Antique Childhood

The Prize

On the news last night, there was a story of a woman who won a house. A house!

A lot of people say, “I never win anything.” I am one of those people who say that. I never win anything. Except a pumpkin. One time I won a pumpkin.

The year was 1969. It was Friday, October 31st. Halloween. I was a skinny scrawny fourth grader at St. Cabrini Catholic grade school. The entire month of October, the teacher had a big fat pumpkin sitting on her desk. Just before the bell rang, she decided to hold a drawing for some “lucky” student to take it home, thus relieving her of the task of disposing of a large and soon-to-be rotting pumpkin come Monday morning.

The PumpkinYou could have knocked me over with a feather when my name was drawn. I was thrilled! I had won something! My nemesis and rival, Erin Flannigan — who was cuter, smarter, had better hair, was more athletic, wore nicer clothes, had a sister and could do just about everything slightly better than me except possibly jump rope — really wanted that pumpkin. But there was no way I was giving it up, especially not to her!

Intoxicated with the thrill of the win, it did not occur to me that I would have to somehow get that pumpkin home, that I would have to walk nearly a mile schlepping a ginormous pumpkin that weighed not that much less than I did.

I proudly strode up to the front of the classroom like Miss America to claim my prize. I was so thrilled. I slid the orange beauty off the desk and up onto my knee and then I hoisted it up to my tummy, which sent me reeling backwards a few steps. I wrapped my spaghetti arms around my beloved prize and with my back swaying like a pregnant lady, I staggered two or three drunken grapevine steps to the door. Erin made one more generous offer to take the pumpkin off my hands, but I said nothin’ doin’ sister, it’s my pumpkin and I’m keeping it! And then with trembling knees and sweating brow, my pumpkin and I slowly melted to the ground.

But I remained undaunted for I had won a prize! A pumpkin!

For the next half mile, I slowly slogged toward home, repeating the knee-lift/hoist/stagger/squat/rest sequence about every ten steps. I was sitting on my pumpkin on the sidewalk resting up for the next sequence, when I saw Paula Vose’s mom zip by in her little VW Bug. The tail lights turn red.  The car stopped and then whirred back towards me. She rolled down her window. “Wanna ride?” she asked. God bless Mrs. Vose! She had mercy on me. I nodded my head vigorously. She got out, put the pumpkin in her car and took me home — a kindness I have never forgotten.

The next day, I noticed the bottom of the pumpkin was beginning to turn black and soggy. I ceremoniously hauled it out to the burning barrel in the back yard. I lifted it to the edge of the barrel and with an odd sense of satisfaction, I tipped it in. It hit the bottom of the barrel with a resounding thud and sent up a cloud of grey ash. So long prize. And I haven’t won anything since.

* * * * *

Have you ever won anything?

67 thoughts on “The Prize

  1. I’m one of those “never win anything” types also. Really why do I have such bad “winning” Karma? My DD wins lots of stuff and she is only 14. If someones name is going to be drawn….it is hers….I always let her enter drawings and contests. She won $2000 savings bonds in a sing a jingle contest when she was 5!!!! So since it was put away for college and that is $2,000 less I have to pay….I guess I can say….I actually won!!!

  2. I won a jigsaw in a school raffle. My ‘friend’ snatched the ticket from me, went onto the stage in front of the whole school and proudly accepted the prize!

    I didn’t even want the bloomin’ jigsaw, I was just so annoyed I didn’t get to go up on the stage! I’m a bit of a show-off when it comes to an audience!

  3. Hmm. I FELT like I never won anything, but maybe just because it’s been rinky-dink stuff. The best was when I was about 10, I got 3rd prize in one of Cricket Magazine’s monthly art contests, since that’s national! (got a fine quality set of watercolors and pad).

    Guess I’m greedy, I was really hoping for a Powerball jackpot. 🙂

  4. I won a stuffed owl in 6th grade at a school carnival, (probably around 1973-74) and I can’t remember ever winning anything again after that. (I still have the owl!!)

  5. I was like you, until Mother’s Day of 06. Our church was giving out pamper baskets full of spa stuff. I won one. I was so floored! AND enjoyed everything in it.

  6. I went to a Christmas festival with my brand new baby (1990 and 2 after him- smile) and knowing that my new baby was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, I entered his name in a raffle for all sorts of lovely prizes. He WON! Hmmm, 100 gallons of heating oil and ummm, we have electric heat. Darn, that baby sure was lucky and I STILL adore him! LOVE your blog Antique Mommy!

  7. I’ve won a few things over the years, the most recent being a weekend stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach (Destin, FL) which I have yet to use. But I’m planning to make use of it sometime this fall for a little R&R…

  8. I won a makeover on one of our local morining shows – twice actually. The first was a Valentines Day makeover, I came home to a message on my answering machine asking me to call in if my husband and I were available on a certain day. Even though I called back right away they had already filled the all spots.
    The next one was when Clairol was launching a new line of Blonde haircolor. I went into the studio sans makeup and in drab clothing as requested. Unfortunately my hair had been sun kissed between the time the entry photo was submitted and the makeover was done. They proceeded to put handlotion in my hair to darken it up. We then spent a full day shopping at Nordstrom and having our hair cut and colored so it was worth it.

  9. I am habitually unlucky. I have a sister-in-law that has won more things than I can count from a local Christian Radio station. Tickets to, concerts, stars on ice, the circus the list goes on. She did take me with her on a trip she won, so I guess I was a winner as well by proximity. Inspired by her, I must have called that radio station for 50 different contests. I did finally win one time for my name to be entered in a contest to win a trip. All I got out of the deal was an rather embaressing phone spot on the radio and a CD. It was still quite exciting though.

  10. I have won several things over the years, but one of the first was the Barbra Streisand/Barry Gibb album. I won it in a dance contest at a high school dance. I danced with Nick Anderson. He wasn’t even my date, but we knew we could dance together well from drama class. When they announced the contest, we found each other quickly and won! How fun was that. Wow. Thanks, AM. I hadn’t thought about that in years.

  11. I won 3rd place in a twist contest and got a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album. I won a Vespa scooter from Target about 4 years ago. There was a one night stay at a nearby hotel that was very nice a couple of years ago. Several years ago I won on of those large picture thingys that’s like pressed paper/raised letters with the names of God. And then there was the summer pass to a water park that was 30 miles away. So I guess I’m doing pretty well.

  12. About ten years ago, I was cleaning house one Saturday morning (back when I used to care if the house was clean) listening to an Oldies station on the radio. They had several name that song and artist contests and I just kept cleaning. Finally worked up my courage to phone in and proudly announced the song is “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” by Bobby Fuller. My husband and young son walked in the house about that time and my son said “that sounds like Mom on the radio!” My prize – two free po-boys at Julien’s Po-Boys.

  13. I’ve won a CD and book by being the right caller to a radio station (neither of which were ones I would buy). I’ve won a few door prizes…one recently was pretty cute at a ladies luncheon at church. It was packaged in 3 graduated size boxes which were pink, orange, yellow, and green (flowers and plaids)….and now have taken up residence in my daughter’s bedroom. Many were envious of my cute boxes…the stuff inside, not so much.

  14. I won the cake walk at the Elementary school carnival every time. Every time! Sadly, I used up all my luck and have not won anything since. Too many cakes.

  15. I won a stay at Disney World when I was in 5th grade. Unfortunately, they didn’t pay for the hotel or getting to Orlando, so my mom said “nope.” Sigh. Sort of a non-prize.

  16. I have won a couple of little things.But the biggest was when i got a call telling me that I had
    won a rabbit fur coat! Except I had not entered, cuz i don’t do real fur.A friend of mine had put my name in.And the coat was too big for me and too little for her.But it fit my Mary Kay lady just right.:) So I traded it to her for a whole bunch of Mary Kay and we were all happy then.(Except the poor little bunnies who gave up their fur)

  17. One time I was caller #8 and won a big basket of bad 80’s music, along with a number of Subway coupons.

    Feel free to turn green with envy now.

  18. I won a rocking recliner from a radio station. I entered an “armchair quarterback” contest and predicted the score of the big game and my guess was the closest. I got to go down to a local furniture store and pick out a chair from a select few. I still have it, in fact. My kids have been blessed too – whenever we go to basketball games or whatever, they’ve both been chosen at different times to participate in the on court activities and contests. I think it’s one of God’s blessings that the little one can’t always look to his big brother and say “How come I never got to do that?” so I’m grateful he’s had some similar opportunities.

  19. Oh! I’m the lucky one! Daily I win lotteries from the UK with notification from a Nigerian and I don’t even live in the UK. Isn’t that amazing?

  20. I am certain that I once willed my name to be pulled from a drawing for a free car seat when I was pregnant with my first child. Of course, I have never been able to repeat this feat of mental strength.

  21. Normally I’m one of those “I never win anything people” but in the last couple of months, God’s been overly good with his favors lately. We’ve won tickets to the Brooks & Dunn/Alan Jackson concert, tickets to the Wizards game (soccer) and Mr. Right just told me that he won tickets to “Sweet Charity” (a play) for next month. I think God is helping us to not think about our kids so much… well and the fact that our dating life has gone up quite a few notches!

  22. I’ve won tickets to the ballet, tickets to go back stage and meet Brooks and Dunn at their concert, some CD’s, t-shirts… I’ve always been pretty blessed! My Dad is the exact same way 🙂

  23. I win things a lot – don’t know if it’s luck or just being blessed. I won a $5,000 scholarship in high school, have won lots of drawings, including radio contest – one time won tickets to see Sesame Street live when our kids were tiny tots and we were broke parents. The same week my husband won a certificate for a pizza place from another station so we were able to take the girls to pizza before the show. Just a few weeks ago I won a blog drawing with some fabulous vintage papers!! I won free tickets to the preview of Elizabethtown a couple of years ago. The list could go on. I’m a winner, I tell you!!

  24. I’m sure I’ve won something but I’m not sure what. Now, my girlfriend has the luck of the Irish. There isn’t a contest she hasn’t won. If she buys lottery tickets she wins. She won TWO sets of tickets to see the Lion King on Broadway and was nice enough to give me the second set. So I guess you could say I “won”. It was a great play by the way. My son and I loved it.

  25. I believe all good things come from God for sure, but am I the only one who squirms in her seat when we attribute winning “stuff” as a blessing from God? I don’t know. I just wonder about this stuff.

  26. I once won some tickets to a play and a spa basket on a radio show. It was one of those things where you enter online by telling them some songs you wanted played (I chose Love of My Life by Jim Brickman; Beautiful Boy by Celine Dion; You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Blood Sweat and Tears and Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton and dedicated them to my husband and son).

  27. I never won anything I didn’t work for! I wrote an essay once and won a Strawberry Shortcake record. If anything, I inherited my Dad’s unluckiness gene.

  28. Years back I entered one of those Superbowl pools in the office I worked in then. Gave the guy my dollar, closed my eyes and pointed at a square, figured that was a dollar wasted. All the other people who planned and calculated and figured which team would win by how much were VERY ticked off when my square won! I bought a quilt and some pillow shams with the money, and my 15 year old son still loves that quilt, so I guess it was a lasting win…

  29. I was won a 6 pack of Diet Bargs Root Beer by being the 9th caller when the Song of Summer was played. I was 8. I never did actually go get the Root Beer, but by golly, I was the 9th caller!

  30. Well, I am two time winner. At the Halloween Carnival in 5th grade, I correctly guessed the number of gumballs in a big bowl and won a goldfish which lived approximately 24 hours post victory.

    However, when I was pregnant with C., I won a beatiful bassinet complete with bedding from a local baby boutique. It more than made up for the goldfish.

  31. At my after graduation party, during the dinosaur-stoneage year 1990, I won a case of motor oil. When I got home at 4 in the morning, I left the case of black liquid gold on the table with a note for my Dad. He was more proud of that case of motor oil than he was of me graduating. Oh-last year at our elementary schools Winter Carnival I BINGOed 3(!!!) times. I was so excited, I just couldn’t beleive the gimormous luck I was having. 3 free Pilates lessons and two five dollar bills-doesn’t get much better than that, now does it?

  32. Well, I won tickets to a series of Christian concerts this spring. Four tickets to each concert. I took my son and his cousin, 11 year olds, to the Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman/Louis Giglio concert. Not only was the music amazing, but Mr. Giglio gave a talk that not only touched my soul, but gave those young people something that they will remember for all eternity.

    The third concert I was unable to find someone who could go, so we gave them to a young man who was standing in line to buy tickets. He was probably a college student on a budget but wanting to see the Newsboys. Not only was it an amazing concert, but we got to help out this kid and his girlfriend.

    I think God was part of that winning. It was a boost to my husband and me who are struggling financially right now and still allowed us to touch others at the same time.

  33. I win lots of stuff, sure – last year’s most exciting prize was a basket of Crabtree and Evelyn products, which was nice – but no one in the world wins as many things as my oldest child, who is some sort of weird contest winning machine. She wins EVERYTHING!

  34. I can’t say that I NEVER win anything, but its so rare its just not fun. (I put one of my boys’ name in drawings now because the lucky squirt won a TV!)
    I just this week won a book on Calliper Days! I’m just so excited I can hardly stand it! I would prefer to win, and need to win, like, oh, $25,000, but hey, I can read my book under my leaky roof when its not raining!

  35. I am not lucky very often. I did win a brand spanking new BBQ in 1995. I lived in an apartment building that didn’t allow us to have BBQ’s. Just my luck. Clare

  36. I’ve “won” a free trip to Mexico for sitting through an excruciating 2 hour sales pitch for a time share and then holding out through strong-arm tactics of the hierarchy of sales supervisors who did not want to be defeated. That was a sweet victory. However, we never used the tickets because we couldn’t have afforded the hotel once we got there. Still worth it.

    I’ve won a basket of cheese from Hickory Farms. No telling how old some of that stuff was.

    I recently won a door prize for two movie tickets. You’d think I’d get a date out of it, but I’m still waiting…..I mean, how cheap and easy can you get, and still I wait.

  37. Antique Mommy, sometimes I wonder too. Is there such thing as “luck”, do things sometimes just “happen”? Stuff wears out…but I do know my God can keep things running … there are some things that are just tooo deep for me…I just know what I know that I know 😉

    Oh, I don’t win things or money…but I keep hoping LOL.

  38. I commented earlier this morning that I haven’t won anything since the stuffed owl in 6th grade, but just today I won a custom bookmark from my sister-in-law’s blog!! (Kim from Hiraeth) because I was the first one to groan at her lame pun she posted!! My luck has improved, apparently!! 🙂

  39. Funny you should ask. As I was reading this post my cell phone rang. My son’s name was drawn at Michael’s for a free craft/birthday party! OK, that doesn’t count for me, but isn’t that neat?
    I did personally, win something when I was in college. I was driving down the old country highway and passed a furniture store that had this HUGE rocking chair out front. I had always wondered about this store, so I turned my stunning white Ford Escort around and went inside for a look. The nice old Southern lady accosted me at the front door and told me that I MUST enter her drawing for an oak hutch. OK, I’m feeling daring today. So I sign her ruled, spiral bound notebook paper with my name and dorm phone number.
    Not a week later she was calling me at 8am! to tell me I had won the hutch. Great! Wonderful! Now how to get it home, 3 hours away?
    That’s another story. But I still have the beautiful, handmade hutch and treasure it as it is the only thing I’ve ever won.

  40. When I was in fourth grade the class had a drawing to see who would get to take the class pets, a pair of mice in a terrarium, home with them. I won! The postscript to the story is that the two mice, who apparently had been celibate during the school year, bred like crazy once I got them home. My dad ending up releasing them (and their offspring) in the woods.

  41. In college I was the winning-numbered caller on the campus radio station and won Edgar Winter’s “White Trash” album. Whoopee! Normally, I don’t have the kind of luck/karma that lets me win anything, but after I married my husband, we won tickets to anyplace in the continental US. I hate to fly. That said, we did take a romantic weekend to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It snowed!

  42. Just a few months ago I won a set of white Making Memories vinyl wall alphabets. They are still in the package. And one time I won a big book at a teacher conference. Oh, and one day at MOPS I won a t-shirt. Oh the money I could make selling those goodies.

  43. One time I was chosen for an American Idol contest at a minor league baseball game. They played a popular song and stopped the music, handed me the microphone, and I had to sing the remainder of the chorus. In front of a crowd of about 1,000 I did it! I went nuts! Can’t remember which song it was for the life of me right now, but I won free Subway Subs for 30 of my Dawgpound friends.

    Of course, I was chaperoning a trip to the baseball game with our Jr High group from church so they were my “30 Dawgs”, but that’s okay!

  44. Whenever there are door prizes at an event, I always win the goofy, odd prize. Never do I win something that I am actually excited about.
    My Bunko group in Texas occasionally had everyone bring something for the “looser” prize. I once won a bunch of rolls of toilet paper. Now that was a good prize. Seriously.

  45. I won a jar of jelly beans once by guessing how many were in the jar…I don’t even like jelly beans. But, my 8 year old son has won two bikes in the last three years, and they were really nice bikes too!! He’s a lucky kid!! And I’m his lucky mom. 🙂

  46. I very recently won a point-and-shoot video camera from AOL’s uncut video! Talk about a surprise, because I don’t seem to win things either. Trouble is, I love the videos I make with my Canon digital camera, so the treasure I won sits gathering dust, unused. It’s worth around $100, so I’ll find somebody who can use it, eventually, and pass it on.

  47. I won a 10-day, all expenses paid trip to Europe. Really. Flew into Paris and traveled through France, Switzerland and Italy. I was in Notre Dame on Palm Sunday, St. Mark’s Basilica on Holy Thursday and the Vatican on Good Friday. The trip of a life time.

  48. I can’t say I’ve never won anything, but it’s been few and far between for sure. My BROTHER on the other hand, wins EVERYTHING!!! I mean EVERYTHING (well he hasn’t gotten the lottery or publisher’s clearning house–YET!) He won a two week trip to Australia on the radio 10 years ago. He and his wife were newly married and struggling so it was the honeymoon they hadn’t gotten. They did have to got see Metalica in Sydney (my SIL, not a big fan, but I told her she had to at least listen to a couple of their hits so she’d know them). But got to hang back stage & take advantage of all the ryder stuff (no brown M & M’s in the bowl, etc…) It seemed pretty cool.

    I keep thinking I’m due for a big lottery ticket win cause of my lack of luckiness, but it’s that whole “You gotta buy one to win” thing that seems to elude me.

  49. I think the biggest thing I won was a color console television (do they make console tv’s anymore?!?). Funny thing is that I thought it was a scam. Especially when I showed up at the store to pick it up and no one had heard of the woman I was supposed to meet. She called later, there was a mix-up (she didn’t work there), I went back and really got a tv.

    I’ve also won a number of movie premiere tix, Tom Petty concert tix (Concord Pavilion), a Bible, a CD, $102, a beautiful Chihuly coffee table book, a big old cake, and assorted door prizes (women’s retreats, etc.).

  50. There’s a lot of us ‘never won nuthin’!’ people out there, huh? I did actually win something once. I was at a scrapbook event for charity and they were handing out raffle prizes left and right! The last raffle prize was for whoever hadn’t won a prize. I rose my hand…

  51. Deanna, My not-winning streak is so bad that one time I was at a charity auction where you walk around and write your bid on a sheet of paper associated with whatever it is you want. I was pregnant at the time and I thought I was bidding on this fabulous gift basket of cool baby stuff. Well, I won my bid, but I had written it on the wrong paper and ended up winning Scobby Doo sheets. As it turns out, now three years later, that Sean really does like the Scooby Doo sheets (even though he doesn’t have any idea who Scooby Doo is) whereas the basket of baby stuff would have been long gone by now. So, I sorta won in a delayed thrill-is-gone sort of way.

  52. I won a beach chair from a Coke drawing and a handpainted plate at a ladies church function (I gave it away ’cause it didn’t match my decor).

  53. I won a McDonalds dinner once just because I was in line. I went to McDonalds about once a year. The lady behind me was upset because she had been trying for weeks to win it. No telling how many dinners she bought to win one.

    I also won a baseball pool which is ironic because I’m not a sports fan, which kind of annoyed some of the fans. I chose the winning score and I didn’t even know what the winning score should be. That was nice. It was $10.

    Mostly I don’t win, though, because I never enter contests.

  54. Kathy: I forgot. I win those too. They want to give me all kinds of money if I will just send them a few thousand first.

    Sadly, I don’t have the few thousands or I would be rich beyond belief:-)

  55. Too bad you couldn ‘t turn that pumpkin into cinderella ‘s carriage. These days i win all sorts of spam prizes which i delete as junk mail…they are all scams

  56. I “never” win anything except once I won $1000 from a rock station!! Everyone at my office was trying to win; the receptionist would keep track of how many songs they played, and then we’d all start hitting “redial” and trying to win. (It was a small office) I used the money to buy a new computer so I could work from home. 🙂

  57. When I was in the sixth grade I participated in a “cake walk” at some community carnival. You paid your ticket to walk around some chairs with the other participants, and when the music stopped you sat on a chair with a number. If your chair number matched the one they drew, you won a cake.
    I stayed for turn after turn, long after people who came after me had won their cake, or had gotten tired and left. I stayed so long that they took away chairs, trying to improve my chances. They obviously felt sorry for me.
    But I never did win a cake. Though I played until the carneval was closing and I was the sole one traipsing around two chairs.
    I was prepubescent and the sensitive sort to boot; I walked away so disappointed I was almost in tears. Only the shame of someone seeing me crying kept them from pouring down.
    I have won things since then, but for some reason walking away empty-handed from that blasted cake walk came to mind. Why didn’t they just give me a cake?! Sure, it would’ve been “breaking the rules” and all, but cut a kid a break already. It was obvious the day was over and the rest of the donated cakes were not going to be “won”.
    Even looking back with all the “wisdom” and experiences life has given me, hard knocks and all that, I think those ladies were short-sighted not to make an exception for one young girl. But the upside is, to this day I am sensitive to anyone getting the shorter end of the stick and how it’s affecting them. Yea, “life isn’t fair”, but neither are people, and sometimes a softer touch can go a long way.

  58. Oops, I just looked over the comment and thought that “carneval” looked funny. Yea, I know it’s “carnival”. I truly got it mixed up with “carnevale” (Kar-nay-vah-lay), as in the Italian Mardi Gras. Really! We moved from Italy not too long ago, and while I can’t profess to be proficient in Italian or to even be the party-hard Mardi Gras kind of gal … some things just get in your brain and get you confused. Please don’t hold it against me! heh-heh.

  59. In high school I got a phone call from McDonalds and because I could say “two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun” in less than 10 seconds I was sent a t-shirt. Hooray for me. And 30 years later, I can still say it.

  60. [And then with trembling knees and sweating brow, my pumpkin and I slowly melted to the ground.]

    I love the visual!

    Of course, my biggest prize by far has been the little trickster I call my son. Cliche, clickclick, I know. 😉

  61. When I was around six or seven yeras old I won the Easter Egg hunt at our church & got a huge stuffed bunny and a lot of multi-colored sugary eggs with the hard outer crusts. On my son’s third Easter, he won the Easter Egg hunt at our apartment complex and received a basketfull of goodies plus a Charlie Brown stuffed doll. Guess it runs in the family! My husband won a photo in the newspaper with the humongous pumpkin he grew. I suppose we’ve actually won several things over the years–through company raffles, or movie tickets, every few years we hit it in some small way! Dh is particularly lucky this way.

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