The R.I. Bubbe Lottery – or how to keep your grandchildren close


This article is dedicated to anyone who writes to a child at summer camp and never gets a letter in return.

For several years, I wrote my grandchildren at summer camp, and never received an answer. So two years ago, I created something I call the Rhode Island Bubbe Lottery, which has the dual purpose of getting “my boys” to write to me and also exercise their brains. It even worked with a grandson who didn’t attend camp.

Here’s how it works: The first year I sent riddles (five or six) to the three boys and told them whoever responded with answers to all my riddles would be taken out for lunch and an afternoon of playing games at Dave & Buster’s. Lo and behold, I received answers to all the riddles!

Sometimes they came up with answers that were different from those in the riddle book. For example:

Riddle: What has a neck but no head?

Answer: A bottle.

One of my boys: A sweater. 

Riddle: How do you turn a dollar into two dollars?

Answer: Hold it in the mirror.

One of my boys responded with an answer I love: “Call your bubbe.”

At the end of the second lottery season, the four of us went to King Richard’s Faire, a medieval fair in the woods of Carver, Massachusetts, complete with jousting tournaments, games like archery and rope-ladder climbing, and performances all day long. I won’t soon forget the lunch of hand-held turkey legs!

We were there from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. As we left the fairgrounds, one of my grandsons said, “Wow, I completely forgot what it is like out here.”  How good is that … we actually felt like we had been transported to another time and place!

I have not decided what the 2017 Rhode Island Bubbe Lottery will be, but I have decided that the reward will be a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, the witch city.

This summer the boys will be 12, 14 and 14. This is probably the last summer for my Bubbe Lottery. However, a creative spirit can always devise another way to keep the children we love in close contact. 

Which reminds me that I now have to get ready to have dinner with my college-age granddaughter, followed by appointments for both of us with a fortune teller!

MAY-RONNY ZEIDMAN is executive director of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center, in Providence.