Old School

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 1, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

Every day at the track is like a new chapter in a book. You get to meet interesting people from all walks of life. Some are just more interesting than others.

Meet my friend Danny. Well, you don’t get to meet him, but let me tell you all about him.  You’ll feel just as good.

Dan is an older gent. I never put down an age, but Abe Lincoln and he would have been about the same age! He is from New York, and his wife has passed and his kids live in Florida, with his three children and ten grandchildren.

I see him slowly walking to his seat, as soon as the doors open every day. I just bought him a cup of coffee, and you would have thought it was the world. Good guy… The kind you would like to call a friend.

I asked what he did for a living and he just kinda mumbled a bit. It took 15 minutes, but finding out he was a bookie was really neat in my book. He took bets from all over the city, and had over twenty guys working for him. He was large in the world of betting. “Hell, guys couldn’t get to the track or go to the ballgame and I just kinda stumbled into this life.”  It was good and bad.

The good was the money he made over the years. He told me of huge weekends, and how guys paid up back in the old days. Something the younger guys don’t do now.  (I agree)

Over 40 years doing his trade with no “Godfather” moments he said. Nobody got hurt, and it was just a job. Sometimes you had to call a guy’s wife, or threaten to call his boss. But that was it. It would have made for a boring story…. Things were good until the O.T.B’s came into action, and then people could make bets everywhere. It was at that time when sports betting became huge. He even told me that the first line in sports came from Lexington, Kentucky… Things were great, and it put all of his kids through school. It was the day a new player was referred to him, that was his undoing.

His little bar where he held court was taking bets, and his new player came in to pay up his $110 in losses. He was a loser every game. It was at this time he was raided for illegal bookmaking. This is when things got bad…

He ended up going to jail for two years, and never told on a soul. He took the heat all by himself. But while he was doing his time, the business kept going. When he was released, he was given $30,000 to start up his life again. It was at this time he and his family moved to Dayton, Ohio and continued to live until Mae passed away. He moved because he couldn’t be there without her.

He now lives in a retirement community in Northern Kentucky, and even has a gal. His days are spent doing what he loved the most (besides Mae), and that was gambling. He makes three to four plays, and shoots to keep pocket money to take his gal out for dinner and movies. He loves Brad Pitt and Robert Redford. His favorite movie is “The Sting.”

I shook his frail hand, and he smiled. “Best of luck big guy, and don’t bet too much.” Talking to Dan was a pleasure. I loved his story, and saw the look in his eye as the ponies went to post. I guess some things only get sweeter with time…