Buffalo’s Booby muted cries of BINGO! and a signature moment for city schools - The Buffalo News
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Buffalo’s Booby muted cries of BINGO! and a signature moment for city schools

It seems as though there must be something important to say about the Brown Booby – with capital letters, note – that was spotted in Buffalo this week. The Brown Booby is a bird. It lives in Central America and, as far as anyone knows, has never been seen in Buffalo before. Its reach into North America doesn’t normally extend farther than Florida and Southern California.

So, let’s see. We could say something about a booby prize for a bird with a challenged sense of direction, or maybe something about the boobs in Congress who can’t do the nation’s business, but, frankly, neither seems worth the ink. And we can’t think of anything else to say; you’ll have to supply your own punch line.

That is all.

Once upon a time bingo provided about the only (legal) hope of getting rich quick. You’d plunk down a few bucks for bingo cards and the chance to win hundreds of dollars.

But the games were more than that. Besides providing funds for churches, schools and non-profits, bingo brought people together for an evening of socializing. Now, though, with the area awash in gambling opportunities – everything from full-blown casino resorts to the lottery to horse racing – bingo has fallen out of favor.

As Jay Tokasz reported this week, 20 years ago there were 389 bingo operators in Erie and Niagara counties. Last year there were just 72.

Bingo games have considerable charm, from the groups attending together and catching up on each other’s news between games, the lineup of offbeat “good luck charms” over a table full of boards, the amusing bingo dabbers and the delicious tension of being one number away from a win, even if hopes are dashed by the cry of “Bingo!’ from across the room.

But it’s not easy for the leisurely, if cut-throat, game of bingo to compete with the instant gratification of the spinning reels of a slot machine or a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Unless an influx of young hipsters takes an interest in their grandmothers’ game, the continued decline of bingo may be inevitable. We will mourn the loss of its quirky charm.

So, now it’s forgery. Parents in the Buffalo School District, as represented by the District Parent Coordinating Council, are complaining not only that they are shut out of policy-making decisions that, by law, require their assent, but that in at least one case, a parent’s signature was forged.

District officials – these are the people who can’t submit an acceptable document to the State Education Department without official hand-holding – say it was just a misunderstanding between a principal and a parent, but even if so, that doesn’t explain how 34 of 56 school plans submitted to the state – two-thirds of them – lacked any parent signature at all.

Great lesson for the kids.

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