|Grandma Wolfe at 88, Lambertville, NJ|
Off in a totally different direction with this challenge…..the discussion of chance and coincidence got me to thinking about probability in general and the odds of events which in turn lead me to:
|Celebrating her 97th Birthday!|
There's a billboard along the highway near where I live in Northern California announcing that 1 in 3 babies born today will live to see their 100th birthday! My initial response was "that's ridiculous", but with a little investigation, I learned that that is, in fact, the case. That's pretty good odds! Turns out that I have about a 1 in 6 chance of seeing 100. When my grandmother was born in 1887, the odds of living to 100 were well below 1 in 100. But she beat the odds and did live to 100 and we all celebrated the event.
|In Grandma Wolfe's arms, Plymouth, CT|
She was an interesting woman. She worked for 50 years as a tipstaff in the Pittsburgh courts. I don't think she had much use for small children and her home reflected it. We maintained a respectful distance from each other. Despite our rough beginnings, as she got older, she softened, a bit, and when I was in my 20's we actually bonded, a bit, over one of her hobbies.
She was an avid contest enterer - you know, all of those sweepstakes that you see advertised everywhere - - win a free trip…win a new home…win a car - - the ones you don't enter, because you'll never win. She entered all of those, hundreds of times! She'd been doing it for many years and she'd won with some regularity; money, TVs, wardrobes, etc. When she asked me to help her, she was already in her 90's and she had her methods to increase her odds of winning. Every 3" x 5" with your name and address was exactly 3" x 5", so you couldn't be disqualified for not following the rules to the letter! I filled out 3" x 5"s. She had envelopes in every conceivable color, to stand out and increase the odds of being drawn from a bin of envelopes. I addressed envelopes. And she mailed several entries a day, from different parts of the county, thereby increasing the number of places her entries were in the big pile. I mailed letters. Whatever she did, it worked. In 1980, at the age of 93, she won 1st prize in a big Warner-Lambert Sweepstakes -$16K in cash, audio and video equipment, a library of videos. The town came out to celebrate her win with marching bands and a big banquet and she got a letter from the Vice President!
On occasions, she had me enter contests in my name, and we won at least a couple times that I can remember. One win I will never forget was a $100 check for groceries - which at the time, with 2 young children, living paycheck to paycheck, was huge! I took the check to the grocery store and shopped with abandon, putting whatever I felt like in the cart and when the cashier rang it up, it totaled exactly $100.00! What are the odds of that?