; -:’ -Phil Vinson The Penrod Chronicles \(Being Some History According to r/ 1 –7 ..+,.. ar tas rJpev Alef rt i-,14ekliidii..t—-.4 –‘,.!=i —– gnrillAnERMOVrt fe:” :11Clete44 4 -,’-.–mi’ ..44V.:iiki.,^ r, ‘ ..,, .,,..–.?;.1.,:’1:-;-:.s: ‘,0`rj :’ s’,””. ”””’*’-‘ %. t ..y -**-, i, i 1,:,17X,ii%.Y 5…_.L…z.k_ _ 4-Y:4707:707..iiS:74:KiMPt .y’ t. . ;1 1.1k AN-‘4. ‘ 1_ . .. ‘ ”’ ,….:::::-.. …24: –T . .” -:.” 41′ -1=1::-“–=11117-.’—PR*-It ‘ , ..,–1,-..# it., ..:.74.4ertiiitiAtr,… -..i0;:ttit-tit,…,,.. .-: . . .44 . Lasa..er , 4N.. ”’ -: ‘ “” -Wiry lo , 4. C r .44 t*Orts . .ibt. By Buck Ramsey A in arillo “Among the gamblers around here back in those days there were two big kingpins who did their business on different sides of town,” Scobie was saying to me the other clay. “and to the best of my recollection they never came head to head at the same table. This one old boy worked on the north and east sides of town and kept his games going with the wagoneers and mule skinners and stockyard workers, people like that. He went around in scuffed boots and bib overalls, and though he wasn’t very big you would always remember him as a barrel-chested sort of feller because of the fat money pouch always pooching out at his bib. He ran his games with a mighty lusty bunch of old boys, but he was always able to handle his games real well, there being a certain kind of conditioning by life among the poor that tends to keep their violence predictable. He lived to a quiet old age, sent all his kids through school, and had everything paid for when he died. -But this other feller, the one you were asking me about, he trafficked among the high rollers. He was the kind of man who could impress you in a lot of ways. Like Joseph of the Old Book when he was young,’ he was such a handsome sort of feller he couldn’t wait for the sun to shine each day so he could shine. out too and be seen. He dressed fit for the grave for work or play or strolling down the streets. For bed too for all I know. And as you’d expect, he kept a real neat card-player’s manicure on his fingers.” Scobie checked his right hand fingers and fogged the nails with his breath and shined them on the wide lapels of his outdated old dress coat and went on., “That gambler, he was a real charmer too, courteous to the men and gallant with -the women: He made a habit of addressing people according to their highest aspirations. I mean, if he knew a high school boy wanted to be a doctor, he would call him, say, ‘Doctor Johnny,’ or if he knew an old man had been frustrated by not making it above captainn the Confederate Army, he would always address him as ‘Colonel.’ or if he,went to a poetry recital and heard a matron read who had been in her youth as clearly ambitious as she was unfit for the stage, he would say to her something like, `Well, shades of Sarahif I may address you in the name of that great lady. Sarah Bernhardt, you bring so much to my mindhow lucky for us but unlucky for you and the rest of the world that it never spied your talents and took you from us. . . .’ Yeah, he was a real jimdandy.” I could see Scobie had enjoyed that little chance to imitate a man of high manners. “They had some real nice apartments in a building a couple of blocks from downtown back then, and that’s where he put on his game. He .had that place so decked out the richest men from the fanciest houses around were drawn there by the mere feel of it, the kind of feeling that made ’em think they could be petting velvet in the most exotic distant place. He had hired an old porter from a Pullman car to look after his players, and any time one of ’em wanted something and turned his head to holler for it, that old feller would usually be right at his elbow with what he wanted. There was always a baked ham or turkey and other fixings laid out, and always plenty to drink, dry times or not. “Yeah. He was 1 guess what you’d call real elegant. He was sure more of that than anyone I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around some since. Well, now. though, come to think of it. there might have been one feller lived here for a while back then who might have matched him for fancy. The oil and gas boom around here back then brought in a lot of different kinds of people. and this old boy I’m talking about was one of ’em. He came over from Oklahomafrom the looks of it he must have hit some oil over there and come over here to hit some moreand he was riding in the back seat of a big long black 16cylinder Lincoln limousine with a window that went up and down between him and his driver who was French enough or acted French enough that you couldn’t understand him when he talked. This feller dressed in rich black, all black from head to toe, and had slick shiny black hair and a black moustache and mighty-near black eyes. You could see from the way he moved and looked around that he had some class about him. He wasn’t an unfriendly man, but just kind of apart somehow from the othersnot unfriendly but sort of standoffish, you might say. “I somehow got the idea, and I think was right, that the kingpin gambler didn’t much go for the man in the black limousine. You can probably see why. There just wasn’t enough mirror space in our little town back then for two men with conceits like that to keep a good enough eye on themselves without crowding one another, not enough of the right kind of admiration to go around. Well, anyway, out of courtesy or connivance it wasn’t long before the Oklahoma man in black was brought in on the card game, and the surroundings there turned out to suit his style so well he went back for more. In fact, he went back again until one morning it was seen that the gambler, instead of strolling THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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