Page 62 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneBecoming Streetwise — My Father’s ClassroomMy father left home and came by himself from the coal fields in Illinois to Chicago at the early age of 13. He settled in and around 63rd and Cottage Grove Avenue and over the course of his early years his life was centered around that location. Since he was newly arrived and alone in The Big City, there was much to be learned in order to survive. He held many jobs but it was in the gambling and pool halls that he honed his skills towards becoming a professional gambler with cards and became a 3 cushion billiards master.According to him, this came about the day when a Black Man came walking down the alley carrying a automobile inner tube on his shoulder. My father said that this was the Black Man’s “Shtick” or attention getter. Once he had my father’s attention. The Black Man said to my father, “Hey kid, are you any good with cards?” Somewhat mystified, my father tried to understand what he meant. Thereupon the Black Man drew out 3 cards and said, “Come here and I will show you what to do. You see this card? All you have to do is pick it out after I shuffle them and lay them face down on this box.” After he did so, the man Black said, “Now pick out the card that I first showed you,” which my father quickly did. The man said, “Hey, you’re pretty good. Would you like to bet a little wager on the next card?” With that, my father did and each time that he did, the wager doubled as the game went on. Finally when the wager got big enough, the Black Man said, “Now how would you like to bet the whole thing?” When my father did, the Black Man administered the Coup de grâce and with that he scooped up all of the money and left my father broke. My father had fallen for one of the oldest street scams which consisted of a fast shuffle and a way of dealing and holding back cards, known as Three-Card Monte. After that happened, my father told me that he vowed that he would never loose at cards again.Besides gambling, my father worked as a hot tar and pitch flat roofer as an occupation. In addition to being able to cipher numbers in his head, he followed the laws of physics on the billiard table. And in addition to that, he began a study in character as he would begin to know the mind set of his opponents and anticipate their way of thinking as well as their moves. He became a street wise psychologist whose only method of grading came in the form of how many times he won. His was a hard nose way of dealing with the system and failure could only result in a person’s ability or will to survive.62

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