Monday, June 29, 2009

The Saturday "Lottery"

-click to enlarge and see if you recognize anyone-

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.


  1. Carl what would you have done with the money if you had won it? Knowing you, you would have spent it at the Western Auto on your car for assessories.

  2. I believe that I see my mother believe it or not !!!!!!!!! The book of tickets came 50 to a book. You had to tear one ticket for each dollar spent. On Saturday in the grocery business spending was big, so you spent a lot of time tearing tickets and removing the stubs for the drawing. So many in fact, your fingers became sore from tearing the tickets. To overcome the constant tearing we would take the tickets to the meat counter and use the meat band saw to saw the stubs away from the tickets. I wonder if anyone else who worked in the grocery store remembers this. And whatever you do, don't stop by the poolroom on your way to the mayor's office to deposit the ticket stubs or you might be late...Of course that never happened to me.

    Jim G

  3. Jim, thanks for using the term "mayor's office". I intended to do so in the text of the posting, but didn't. However, that is exactly what it was known as, and I referred to it in that way all my life there.

  4. wow some store had a bargain day sale on white stripe shirts!

  5. I recall that every once in a while some a##hole would give a non winning ticket to pore ole Damon and tell him it was a winner. He would quickly shuffle up to get his prize.

    To show the character of people in those days, I have seen Bernard or whoever was handling the tickets give Damon a couple of dollars so he wouldn't be hurt by the deception.

    That still makes my blood boil...


  6. Folks who had purchased larger items during the week (stove, washing machine etc.) might naturally have several hundred tickets to search through at the Saturday drawing. Various methods were used such as stitching them onto notebook pages or large pieces of cardboard etc.

    On the Saturday before Christmas of 1959 the pot had reached the $200 range and Bernard, bless his heart, decided to give more people a chance to win by having multiple drawings of $25 each. I was one of the lucky winners and it couldn't have come at a better time, with Christmas presents to buy. mc

  7. What were all the tables with white cloths used for?

  8. The tables with white cloths are cars that got trapped at the intersection in the pedestrian traffic when they got the drawing started!