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Playing Craps Chicago Style

My father has never been a story-teller.  I am not sure why, because he is actually pretty good at it.

This weekend some of the family convened to my sister’s home to celebrate the high school graduation of my nephew Connor.  My younger brother, Joe, his wife, Bethany, and I were visiting with dad on the porch when somehow we started talking about Dad growing up.  Maybe we were just feeling nostalgic remembering our high school days or maybe we were just passing the time.

Regardless, I said to Joe that one of the few stories I remember Dad telling me was when the cops took their winnings in a craps game.  You have to understand, my father grew up in the 40’s and 50’s on the south side of Chicago.  His family was not wealthy.  They were on the cusp of being poor and the working class.

Dad sits back and scratches at his face.  Although he is clean-shaven, I think he does it as it helps to encourage the memory to form.  Dad said the crew of boys he ran with were always putting some games together.  His friend, Jimmy, an orphan, was bunking at the florist shop (I am sure there is a story about this too, but we did not hear that one this weekend.).  Apparently a craps game got started in the back of the florist shop that night.  It got bigger than normal.  Dad said that his crew was there, but there were also some rougher kids there as well.  Dad was in charge of the dice.  There was about $300 dollars on the table and another few hundred in Jimmy’s hand when Chicago’s finest busted in from all sides.  Jimmy put his wad in a vase, it was the first thing that he thought to do.  Dad keeping his cool, kept the dice in his pockets.  The dozens of others scattered into the wind.  Only Jimmy and Dad remained.  A Chicago Police Officer picked up the money off the floor, and as he left, told Jimmy, “It was nice doing business with you boys.”

As the police left, Jimmy and Dad were relieved that they were not getting hauled off to the local precinct.  Dad still had a pocket full of dice, and Jimmy and Dad split what was in the vase.

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