"I'll be honest with you. I still treat her like she's my aunt. Yesterday, we were hollering at each other and I told her, `It doesn't matter if you're rich or not, you're still a goofball,'" said her nephew, 34-year-old Bryan, who declined to give his last name to protect his privacy.
`Smarter' than mom
Catherine Gietka, an organizer of church bus trips to Atlantic City and Delaware to play the slots, said she's glad it was her daughter who went back and bought the other tickets because "she turned out to be so much smarter than me."
In the Upper Fells Point enclave where Gietka grew up and lived until the mid-1990s, the family home sits quietly, a Virgin Mary and the printed prayers of a Novena resting in the boarded-up window of the one-time confectioner's store. As soon as it stops raining, neighbors predicted, everyone would be out on their stoops talking about Bernie.
But at Geresbeck's, employees and customers already were talking, as the neighborhood store known for its chocolate eclairs became synonymous with luck. As store managers returned from the news conference in Annapolis in their white limousine, rented for the occasion, customer after customer asked clerks the same question: Who is it?
"It has been crazy," longtime clerk Donna Hagerman said. "People here like being part of the excitement of knowing we sold this ticket."
It's so surreal that Gietka, who up until now mostly wrote about the fantastic and futuristic, is thinking that it might be her best screenplay yet.
"It's something more interesting as I move along now."
Sun staff writer Alyson R. Klein contributed to this article.