San Roque’s Window of Fortune

Family Invents Public Puzzle Game to Cope with the Coronavirus and Meet New Neighbors

Early clues in last week's puzzle | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

When Andi Schloss and her husband remodeled their home a couple of years ago, the only thing they kept was the big front window. “It’s just so cool,” she said. Under normal circumstances, the Schlosses ― who live at 203 Calle Manzanita, right across from Peabody Charter School in a highly foot-trafficked area of San Roque ― hang “Welcome Back!” messages after summer break and holiday signs when the turkeys and elves show up. But now, with the coronavirus stay-at-home order, they’ve gotten even more creative.

Andi is hosting a weekly Window of Fortune game, in which she puts up the blank tiles of a word or phrase on a Monday and then slowly fills in the letters over the coming days. Passersby try to solve the puzzle by texting her at (209) 483-8070. The earlier in the week they guess correctly, the more tickets they earn for the Saturday raffle. Prizes are $15 gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops. The last two puzzles were “GARLIC MASHED POTATOES” and “ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER.” 

The Schlosses have always been big game-show people. Andi was on The Price Is Right when she was younger, and her family has competed on Family Feud multiple times. They tried getting their 5-year-old son into the Window of Fortune spirit, but as soon as they told him the answer, he’d shout it to the next person who stopped to guess. “So he’s disqualified,” Andi said. Their one-year-old is just happy to watch.

It’s a fun distraction for everyone, Andi said, but it’s also a meaningful way to meet and chat with neighbors. “That’s a silver lining to all this,” she said. “The people who walked by every day with their dog — and maybe we never learned their name or who they are — we’re finally connecting with them,” she said. “It’s such a tangible thing in this really difficult time. I hope it sticks.” 

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