Source: Sherman Publications

And bingo was his game-o

by CJ Carnacchio

September 12, 2012

The man behind the weekly bingo games at the Knights of Columbus hall in Orion officially retired after 46 years.

I finally decided it was time to stop and smell the roses, said Mat Mersino, 89, of Oxford.

Mersino, whos been a member of the Knights for more than 50 years, was the one who first suggested the group host bingo games as a way to raise revenue.

From then on, it was his thing.

I got it started so I thought Im responsible for it, Ill stay with it, he said. It was quite popular from the get-go.

Originally, bingo was illegal in Michigan, so instead of awarding cash prizes, the Knights gave winners meat and fresh fruit.

We gave away steaks, chops, chickens, said Mersino, who graduated from Oxford High School in 1941. For specials, we had baskets of fruit.

These days, the Thursday evening game at 1400 Orion Rd. averages about 100 players.

Despite all the games he organized, Mersino isnt a bingo addict.

Its been quite a while since Ive played, he said.

Hard to imagine a life running bingo games, considering all the action Mersino saw in Europe during World War II.

He spent three years in the U.S. Army with the 405th AAA Gun Battalion.

We shot down buzz bombs using 90-millimeter guns, Mersino said.

After the war, he spent 38 years working for Avon Tube in Rochester.