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His Uncle Jake

Marlene Geiser

Posted on August 18, 2019 19:27

1 user

My husband's Uncle Jake, "the goniff," is part of a story he wanted to share.

My husband likes to talk about an uncle who greatly contributed toward making his childhood a happier one.  

Jake never finished school, and when prohibition came, Jake and his lifelong friend Dominick went into the best business they could find... smuggling whiskey across the Canadian border and delivering booze to the speakeasies.  You had to be tough to do that.

Besides having to evade the Feds, they had to be careful that none of the Al Capone competitors would take their business away from them.

When Prohibition was over, Jake and Dominick went to work for the "boys" in another line. That took them into the business of getting union members into the Teamsters, whether they wanted to or not.

Jake moved up in the Teamsters hierarchy, and got a special business to run - a "Bookie" joint, which by the way, was also illegal. It was located behind what we would call a thrift shop today. My husband loved the place. It was filled with things a boy would love. There were baseball bats and gloves, ice skates, roller skates, and even a motor scooter, which were all probably "hot" as well.

One day Jake allowed my husband to go into the "bookie" at the back of the store.  He tells me that it was amazing. There were men standing at a big blackboard writing and erasing numbers. Other men were sitting around on telephones talking very fast. Everyone seemed to be smoking either a cigar or a cigarette. Some of them were wearing what he thought were silly hats called bowlers, as they would be called today. 

In the background was a constant noise of people yelling, sometimes even screaming, saying words his father said he should never say. He remembers that had he done so, his father would have washed his mouth out with soap. He remembers an incident when Jake asked him to do him a favor. He was told to go to the dog pound with the large African man who sat at the front of the store, whom he guessed was a guard, and get some cats. He also remembers bringing back four cats which his uncle took and put in the basement.

Some time later, Jake called my husband's mother. Upon hearing that it was he on the phone, he asked to speak to his uncle. The first question he asked was how the cats were doing. Jake replied, they ran away, the rats were too big for them.

When my husband was entering high school, he heard that Jack's thrift store had been torn down and that Jack was retiring with a pension from the School District, where it was recorded that he had been a twenty-year employee. 

Marlene Geiser

Posted on August 18, 2019 19:27

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Source: WashPost

The research suggests a disturbing relationship between prejudice and politics.

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