Playing cards for money, something more in a small Maine town.
Life is a gamble. And some like the thrill of what four kinds of cards, arranged the right way can cause for a winning hand. Or bluffing your way into making others think you are holding dynamite. It is a skill, art form for many. To put on your poker face. Become ice cold. Blank. Hard to read. A card shark.
One late night card game in Houlton Maine had a pick up truck on the table.
Up for grabs as the pot grew and the players reached deeper. Got creative. Caught up in the heat of the what to hang onto, discard.
What to wager and when to keep going or just fold. Push away from the felt top table. As a bartender kept the crew lubricated so to speak. Running drinks from behind the bar, the late night watering hole.
Max Escovitz a local car dealership owner in the day that many still talk about. That happened decades ago but still recalled by the few in attendance. Drinking was involved. The hour was marching into the wee early morning region. And the final hand was one that Max had had enough. Folded and wanted to know what was in the hand of Justin Hogan. Who was not a partaker of the fire water.
Justin said you folded, doesn’t matter. You quit. Stopped the game. Had enough.
But Max offered a thousand dollars to know. He had to end the suspense. That would haunt him for the rest of his life. The need to know strong.
A pair of twos held by Hogan was what beat a pair of kings in the hand of the car dealer. Max told Justin to come down to the dealership later today. Select your pick up. Figure out which color, model and he would do up the paperwork. Pass the title.
Wheeling and dealing.
Playing the odds. Max would order a dozen limos from the car maker, the factory. Knowing they only made these luxury rides a certain time of the year. Then stopped production until next year. He would store them up over Farrar Brown, a auto parts place in downtown Houlton Maine. On the corner of Pleasant and Mechanic Street where Aroostook Auto Tech is now.
Then auto dealers from around the state, or further away would need a limo out of season from the manufacturer.
Max would get a call. Sure he had a limo. They could have it today. For a price. A tidy profit. Smart man that sold New Moon mobile homes, took potatoes for payment from area farmers. Helped financed your fertilizer bill. Anything to make a dollar, turn a profit. A true business person, mover and shaker. With fire in his belly. Winding himself up to go go go each morning.
But one night, lost a pick up truck in the shuffle, deal, look at your hand. And figure out how to play those red and black cards. To make others think you were holding something you were not. Confessions of a bartender now long retired that I ran into yesterday. And cub reporter like took a few notes after the reminiscing. To spin a tale, create another blog post for you faithful readers.
The drink maker, smoke provider who says to this day after being behind the bar for many evenings, he can still remember what everyone drank, puffed. From memory. When he sees them on the street. Or if passed away asked. Because it was his job to know how this person liked their gin. Something he called pine cone water. That dentist Dr Ira Tarbell could differentiate, not be fooled in any taste test. He knew, enjoyed his gin. All the varieties.
The bartender, giver of advice or just an available ear to listen. Keep pouring them. Taking orders unless that’s enough. Shut off the hose. Just knew what that person preferred to light up. In the smoke ’em if you got ’em. He remembered. Had to, his job. Back when second hand smoke was shared freely. Everyone did light up. We all did not know any better.