I always wanted to be a bookie.
In my neighborhood – 1950’s Revere, Massachusetts – bookies had the best lives. They hung around the corner playing “morte,” the Italian version of “rock, paper, scissors.” They kept a schedule of house calls to all their clients, picking up and delivering small amounts of cash and little slips of paper with numbers carefully written on them. Many clients, like my parents, bet nickels and dimes, so the bookie had to carry a very sophisticated cash box.
Our bookie, my Uncle Johnny, was as regular as the milkman, the iceman, and the insurance man; he was more consistent a presence than the mailman.
I’d never seen a female bookie, but that didn’t bother me. I was sure I could do the work. I had no desire to grow up to be like the females around me, who did nothing but housework, cooking, and grocery shopping all day long, except for boring coffee klatches midmorning and midafternoon. My own mother washed our kitchen floor every day of the week. She changed the curtains and hung out heavy loads of stark white sheets, grumbling about how hard her life was.
So, my choices as I saw them: lug kids and bags of produce around the streets of Revere, or whip out a wad of bills and laugh your head off with the cool guys in front of the drugstore.
It was a no brainer.
Causes Camille Minichino Supports
Castro Valley Library, Castro Valley CA
Revere High School, Revere, MA