Aug 10, 2020

Keep On Scratchin'

If I had to name five things that my grandparents enjoyed in their lives, the Pennsylvania Lottery would be a strong contender for the top of that list.  They played the three and four digit lottery almost every day, and they bought scratch-off tickets just about every time they left the house.  The photo above was taken at the Wyoming Valley Mall in June 2007 while they were scratching off an instant lottery ticket that they bought at the Cigar Store.  They never spent a fortune on them all at once; usually no more than five dollars each.  However, when they won, they almost always cashed in the winning ticket to get more tickets, which I always thought was pretty silly.

Lottery tickets have always been a gift in my family as well.  Pretty much every Christmas card I ever got from the age of 10 had an instant lottery ticket inside.  Grandma gave out Christmas themed tickets, while Grandpa liked to get people birthday themed tickets for the holidays.  If you asked about it, he'd proudly announce that he picked it because it was Jesus' birthday.

I worked for a few different gas stations when I was a teenager and in my early 20's, so I witnessed first hand that there are a lot of folks who didn't have the same self-restraint that my grandparents had.  On many occasions (particularly when I was working third shift), a customer would spend a few hundred dollars in a half hour.  They'd buy the $10 and $20 tickets one at a time, then go scratch them off on the coffee counter or near the newspaper rack, and then they'd come back to buy more.  They treated the place like a casino, which I guess is exactly what it was to them.  Each ticket was like another pull of the slot machine.  This is probably what put me off of buying instant lottery tickets in my adult life.  I might buy three or four over a full year if I happen to find one that strikes my interest, like the Pac-Man tickets from 2006.

When we got the new packs of tickets in at the gas station, they would sometimes be accompanied by a few sample tickets.  They looked just like the regular ones, but the word "void" was present in the serial number, and the back of the ticket was stamped with the word "sample".  You could scratch them off just like any other ticket, but they were just for display - like if a store wanted to hang them on the window or the wall to show what games they had in stock without destroying a real ticket.

Recently, I found a collection of these sample tickets from the late 80's and early 90's on eBay for about five bucks, so I bought them.  It may seem like a silly thing to feel nostalgic about, but it makes me smile to think about Grandma and Grandpa standing there scratching off their tickets and getting excited when they won.  If I ever turn one of my garage stalls into a rec room, maybe I'll hang them on the wall like a store display or something.  For now, I'm scanning them to share on the blog, so you'll be seeing them pop up throughout the rest of the year, starting with this one from the summer of 1991.

Summer Fun (1991)