Back In The Day

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 29, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

We are spoiled by the constant ease of getting a bet down. We can go to the track, head off to the O.T.B., or get online. It is easier than it ever was back in the day. But, there were many good days back then that lead up to where we are now.

Joe is an everyday player. He is 84-years-old. He loves to smoke his Swisher Sweets, and eat chocolates during the day. His pals join in everyday, and he loves to talk about the old days. His days from Youngstown, Ohio.

Joe raised his family of five, and worked in a sheet metal shop. He went to church every Sunday, the way his wife Sara wanted things to be. But on Saturday afternoon, well, that was a different thing…..

Joe would venture up to Sal’s barber and shave. No need for a haircut. It was the place that had a backroom door where he would take a trip. Sometimes to Florida, sometimes to New York, and sometimes to California… Wherever Joe went, he was home by 5:30 to have dinner with the family.

Sal’s had a backroom that would accommodate 100 or so gents. There was four or five tables where locals would come and play five card stud and pinochle. There were four large table that had Daily Racing Forms on them to read. A huge walnut carved bar served as a multi-task station of bar and a place where you get a ham sandwich or piece of chicken. It was heaven on earth… In the corner was Tony Arcolla. He was Deputy Mayor five days a week, and a bookie on weekends. Tony sold the tickets on upcoming races and his sons paid you right off to the side.

There was a loudspeaker system that played the stretch call for various races from around the country.  It was the old “wire” system, and the fun never stopped. You would hear yells and hollering for two minutes, and quiet for the next few. The action was non-stop…. You could collect as soon as the race paid off and the results were announced.

So, as Joe looked at me, he unwrapped a candy. He told me that we just polished the game a bit. It has always been going in some fashion, but now we have video images that bring the races right to you. The game has evolved, the technology has grown, and the system is ever changing. He just smiled, and went back to reading his form. He said, “Tony would have loved this.” The new game has put some books out of business, and some have been created for the guys who bet on the cuff (money owed). Overall, it is pretty much the same. Action all day long, and you can still make it home for dinner…..

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