A few night ago, Charlie and I caught the bonus round of “Wheel of Fortune.” When the letters, R S T L N and E automatically appeared, Charlie wondered why. I’m so old. Charlie’s not that much younger than me and he doesn’t know why those letters automatically appear? My sister, Becky, is his age, and I bet she knows the answer. Back in the day, those letters were the popular pick for the contestant who made it to the bonus round. Through the years, the producers or whoever of the show decided to give the contestants those letters and have them pick three additional letters and one vowel — probably to make the bonus round a little easier.

Quick story I remember: I think my parents regularly watched the show when we lived in Plainview, Minn. The channel that aired the show gave the local and surrounding communities a chance to win $50 by solving a puzzle when its phone number blinked on the screen. The TV station was located in Rochester, Minn., and back then, a call to Rochester from Plainview was long distance — hello, telephone charges. Anyway, my parents were watching the show and I walked through the living room and quickly glanced at the TV. One word. Transportation. _ _ T _ _ _ _ L E — can you guess it? I guessed it — BATMOBILE.

At first, I don’t think my dad believed my answer was correct. And for some reason, I was pretty positive with my answer and asked if I could call in my answer because the telephone number was still blinking on the screen. When the puzzle was solved, the station would show: “No more calls. Puzzled solved.” — or something like that. My dad said yes, but I didn’t believe him. He and my mom rarely let me and my sisters make long distance calls without their knowledge. Because I wasn’t sure if my dad was serious, I lost my chance to win $50. Bummer, I know.

And does anyone else remember when contestants had to spend their winnings on crap stuff when they won a round? “Pat, I would like to have that ugly ceramic dog for $300.” “Hmmmm, I’ll take the Oriental rug for $1000 — that would look lovely in my living room.” “Oh oh oh! I want that gumball machine for $700! Woot!” I wonder if any of those contestants actually kept the stuff or pawned it once they got back home. I’m sure when I was younger, I thought the prizes were cool. And if someone won an expensive sports car, how much taxes would you have to pay? Would the car be worth keeping? Or would someone be better off to sell it?

And one more random comment about the show: Vanna White has the easiest job in the WORLD! I would love to have that job — wear pretty dresses and look like a model. Back in the day, she actually turned the letters, but thanks to technology, all she has to do is touch the screen and the letters appear. Magic! I want that job. I want to wear pretty dresses, touch a big fat screen, clap and smile. Vanna is so lucky.

Categories: Jennifer Elliott

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