Monday, June 29, 2009
The Saturday "Lottery"
The above pictured crowd in the center of Baldwyn should be familiar to many of you. The "drawing" as it was called, was the highly anticipated event of the week during the '40s and '50s.
The town was buzzing with people on Saturdays, most all of them with numbered tickets received from town merchants after a purchase. Store clerks gave a ticket after a certain amount of money was spent with them, probably one for a few cents or maybe a dollar. So, a $2 pair of shoes you bought would earn you 2 chances at the prize money.
Ticket stubs were rounded up from the the participating merchants prior to drawing time. I remember Wallis Nelson and Milton Nanney were two of the boys who collected the ticket stubs and brought them to deposit in the mixing barrel at city hall. The barrel was a large round chicken wire cage on a platform with a turning handle to mix 'em up good.
A large roar from the crowd usually meant that Bernard Coggins, Garley McVey, James Preston McWhorter, Slim Weldon or possibly some others were loading the stub barrel into a pickup truck to "bring up the hill". It was now only minutes from some folks winning $5, $10, and sometimes when sales were good, a huge $50 prize. I think that an unclaimed prize from the week before was carried over and the "pot" sweetened for this week's winner.
I have no idea when this practice started, nor what year it ended. They gave money away on Saturdays all of the time I can remember in the 1950s, until the time I left Baldwyn and moved away.
I vividly remember these drawings and the squeal of delight from the winners.
P. S. I never got to squeal.
Photo courtesy of Simon Spight. Made from the second floor over Tom's Drug Store.
Posted by Carl Houston at 3:45 PM