November 23, 2014

Confessions of a Child Bookie

I'm a lot like my father in many ways. We both liked to sleep late... especially on Saturdays. As a kid growing up, I had to wake up earlier than my dad however. While most kids watched Saturday morning cartoons, I had a job. Well not really "a job" but I had to answer phone calls, take down the numbers and place bets. On Saturday mornings, I was a kid bookie. For those that may not know, back in the day, there wasn't any Lotto or OTB, there were guys that took numbers and placed bets.

Mama:  (screaming) Vinceeent get the phone! I'm busy, I'm making breakfast. It's probably Leroy from down in Harlem.... you know what to do. Just give him the numbers.

Vin: Ahh Ma, do I have to do it again?

Mama: You heard me, give him the damn numbers. Your father is still sleeping. Get the piece of paper, breakfast is almost ready.

Vin: Alright, alright. (It's showtime for this kid as I picked up the phone). Hello... no this is Vincent.

Leroy: Hi Vincent. Can I speak to your dad? It's Leroy.

Vin: Sorry, he's still sleeping Leroy. I know what to do. I got the paper with the numbers. I can do the job. I've done it before. Are you ready for me to start?

Leroy: Okay, okay kid. Take your time and give me the numbers, but tell your dad to call me later.

Vin: Of course I'll tell him. Ya gotta pencil? Are you ready? Mama's making pancakes and they smell good. I'm hungry.

I started to read off the numbers that my father collected from his friends and family. I didn't realize what I was doing, but I was placing their bets. What a trip, only in NY could your kid be a bookie as you get to sleep in. So I confess - I'm guilty. I was a child bookie, at least on Saturday mornings.

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