The gaming room setup was bewildering. But later in life, I learned what they had. It amounted to one craps table, two blackjack tables, a Chuck-a-Luck table, plus a back alcove with a money cage, a counter and a few chairs where they played Chinese tickets. Today, they call that Keno. At the rear of the alcove, next to the money cage, they also had a drink cooler and a little table with a few magazines. A Chinese kid about my age sat on one side of the table, thumbing through a magazine. I found out later he was part of the family. We ignored each other.
My mother got me a creme soda. Then, for the next hour or so, I scrunched down in a chair on the other side of the table, also leafing through magazines.
It was all pretty boring.
During the first week in February, 1932, for the first time ever, the Winter Olympics were held in the United States—at Lake Placid, New York. Sonja Henie of Norway won the gold medal in ladies’ figure skating.
Across the continent in Seattle, Washington, that very same week, a little girl named Mary Bovee celebrated her sixth birthday. A strong admirer of Sonja Henie, Mary went on to become the Junior Pacific Northwest figure skating champion. Later on, shortly before the 1944 Olympic trials, she turned pro and opened in Madison Square garden with the Ice Capades. By the following year, she was one of the Ice Capades’ featured stars.
My second (and final) visit to the Chinese gambling joint turned out to be far livelier than my first visit.
It happened on a Saturday afternoon when my grandfather had me in tow. The gaming room was filled with a loud crowd. When we entered, I spotted the same Chinese kid, along with a little girl who appeared to be his younger sister. They were sitting around the small table in the alcove. This time he waved me over and greeted me as if I was anold buddy. Said his name was Ben.
My grandfather really didn’t have the money to gamble. All he did was play two-bit Chuck-a-Luck a few times and mark some tickets Then he stood around the craps table for awhile, watching the action. In about a half an hour, maybe less, he was standing in front of me, telling me it was time to go.