AC butch

The Life And Times Of A Professional Gambler



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I lived the first ten years of my life on 5th Avenue in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn NY. We lived on the second floor above a carpet store. I don't remember much between the ages of one to five, but from five to ten, that's a different story. In reflecting back, it kind of reminds me of the Bowery boys from a time way before mine. My fifth year on earth was a very important year to me, not only because of my birthday party, but also because of something my mother made me do that changed my life. The streets were a tough place to be in those years, my neighborhood was mostly Irish, and the Irish loved to fight, they thought it was sport. There was this 6 year old named Peter Thomas who also lived on 5th avenue, I had to pass his house in order to go to the candy store to get my mother her daily fix (Pall Mall cigarettes) for whatever the reason Pete didn't want me to pass his house, this kind of complicated my life to say the least. I was a fairly big guy for my age, but had a fear of fighting, as a matter of fact; I would just stand there and take a beating without ever fighting back. One day my mother saw what was going on, came over and grabbed me, she said I better fight back and beat him or else, I beat him so badly that 2 people had to drag me off him, I never lost a fight after that, it became my sport, we'll go into that later.

 Fifth Avenue in the early 1950s was a great place for a street kid to live, and I was certainly a street kid, so much so, my mother had to call the cops at least once a week to look for me, at the ages of 7 and 8, I was already walking down to the Staten Island ferry at Shore Road and 69th street, can you imagine at that age what it felt like to pay 5 cents and take the ferry ride to Staten Island, once I was in there I discovered the St. George swimming pool, which was about a 1/2 mile from the ferry, it cost 10 cents to get in and they had 3 different size swimming pools, a locker room and shower, I can't count the amount of times I snuck there while my mother was going nuts looking for me. There was so much to do right where I lived you would think I never would have to of left the area. Within a block and a half of my house there were three ice cream parlors, the Loews Alpine movie theater, the Ovington bowling alley and pool room with a restaurant that made great cheeseburgers, French fries and a large coke, all for 50 cents. Within that same area we also had a pizza parlor, 2 bakeries, a grocery store, 2 candy stores and a dairy Queen and sports store, four neighborhood bars and my school, and that's not counting all the regular stores etc.


The Day My Life Really Began: 1953
 On this Saturday afternoon I was with my father like many times before in a bar on Ovington Ave. But this was not just any bar; there was also a poolroom on the second floor, a restaurant and most importantly a bowling alley on the main floor. Even though I had visited this bar since I was old enough to sit on my dads lap I never was allowed to enter the bowling alley. This afternoon my father asked me if I would like to try my hands at bowling a few games. That was the beginning of my first and greatest love affair. My father was very good friends with the owner and made arrangements for me to be able to come in any every day after school and bowl a few games for free, my old man would take care of the pin boys at the end of the week. It took me almost a full year before I broke the magical score of 100, and that may have been the biggest thrill of my life.

 It's now 4 years later, at the age of thirteen I'm already a seasoned league bowler, I was the sub on my fathers bowling team and when ever he would rather sit in the bar and have a drink, which would be quite often, I would take his place on the team that game. It was the last night of league play and we were in second place bowling the first place team, we had to win all three games to capture the championship. I had been bowling real well, so my father let me bowl all three games, I came through and helped the team sweep the match, we were number one. The best bowler on the other team, Jimmy Nolan, for that matter, the best bowler in that part of Brooklyn, was a southpaw that threw a real big hook, he was in his mid twenties, was the head pin boy at Ovington Lanes, and had a hot Irish temper. My father was in his mid thirties, was a Swede, and had a hot square head temper. One word lead to another, and I was astounded when my father said, I'll put my son up against you in any other house but this one, how much do you have the guts to bet. First of all, I had never bowled for money before, outside of league bowling and some pot games (that's where a group of guys, put up say a buck each, and the highest game wins the pot) Jimmy was considered unbeatable at Ovington, that's why my father said in any other house. To me it all sounded crazy; I was very good for my age, but not in Jimmy's class. We went down to Lee-mark Lanes on 88 St, I was never in there before, and it was one of these brand new big modern bowling establishments. My father and Jimmy agreed on a three game total wood match for $50. I was bowling with an Ace black and white ball; the type used on the black TV lanes every Saturday night from Neptune lanes in Brooklyn. As I stood at the line, ready to throw my first ball, my legs were shaking so badly I thought I was going to fall right on my face. Jimmy started with a split, some how the ball fell out of my hand for a strike. I went on to bowl the three best games of my life up to that point, 258, 277 and 238 for a whopping 773. Needless to say I won the match, My father gave me the fifty dollars plus fifty more from the bowling league championship, all in one dollar bills, The bank roll was so big I could hardly put it in my pocket. The next day I went to the place for the first time where my life as a gambler really began, Ave M Bowl, I had a hundred in my pocket, my bowling ball and bag in my hand, I was on top of the world.

 All my life, I was bored with, quote un quote, normal everyday people! I love characters, and was Ave M Bowl ever full of characters. I found heaven at a very early age. There were people like Bernie Bananas, old man Al, Iggy Russo, Sal the Plumber, the list goes on and on. One of the guys that lived on Ave M had written a big hit song, Poetry In Motion, sung by Johnny Tillitson, It was constantly being played on the bowling alley jukebox. Another guy from the neighborhood Neil Sedaca was constantly riding up and down Kings Hi-way in his red convertible playing his own hit songs. It was a great time; I wish everyone could experience what I did. One of the things I learned early was the importance of getting on the good side of the people that ran the food counters. My favorite food at Ave M was tuna on rye, heavy on the mayo, chips on the side, and a cherry coke, it was really Tuna mixed with Bonita, I loved it. Charlie was the main counter man at night and would hang out a little after his shift was up at 2am, he would bet on some of matches. That was the magical hour when most of the action bowling began, all the straight people were home sleeping, and we, the night people took over. Charlie was in his forties, short, balding, and a little pudgy, a very low-keyed guy, but Charlie had power, he controlled the food, and how much some one like myself would get for free? It all depended on how well Charlie did betting on you. I got lots of food! Then there was the big money backers, the Lawyers, Shylocks, business men, they all had there own stable of bowlers, like race horses, this was there hobby. They would negotiate matches for their bowlers, when, where, and for how much. The bowler would usually have nothing to loose and get a percentage of the winnings. Some bowlers would get greedy and dump their backers, and the crowd of people betting on them, (loose on purpose, while an accomplice is betting on his opponent) this can be very dangerous to say the least. It is also really looked down at by almost all of the bowlers. One person famous for dumping was Iggy Russso. Iggy was legititmally one of the best bowlers in the world, and that was his problem. He was a true clown, he talked like he had a horn stuck in his throat, carried 3 balls in one big bag at a time, when everyone had only one ball, his pants were clipped up above his socks, and he loved to taunt his opponents. It got to a point that Iggy had to dump games in order to get matches. It didn't always work out so well for him, like the time he found his brand new car busted up and burning outside in the street, not to mention all the times he had a gun put to his head. As I had mentioned before, I found my heaven at a very early age... butch


Learning The Hustle: 1959
The first real experiences I had witnessing a total hustle involved Bernie Bananas and Al Rosa. Bernie was a young Jewish boy that looked like your typical bookworm, a real nerd or so you would think. Before he found the bowling alley he was a hard working grade A student on his way to becoming a lawyer, he was my age 15. Al Rosa was in his mid twenties, about 6ft tall with a spare tire around the middle, just married, and just moved into the neighborhood, a real nice guy, lived above a store on Ave M across the street from the bowling alley, had a high paying job as a fur cutter. Right after Al moved onto Ave M, he made the biggest mistake of his life; he walked into the bowling alley.

Al would take the D train home from his job in Manhattan, which ran on the elevated line on McDonald Ave right along side the bowling alley. It was payday, Al's pockets were full, and as he walked down the steps from the train he decided to check out the bowling alley. The second he walked through the door, Bernie new he had a pigeon. What went on the next year changed and ruined Al's Life forever. Bernie would bowl Al every Friday when he got paid, after he beat Al for his the whole paycheck he would bowl one more game on credit, this way Al would have to come back the following week, on pay day, to give Bernie what was owed to him from the previous week. That would start the whole cycle over again. Al Rosa couldn't beat Bernie at bowling if both Bernie's eyes were covered; it was an out and out hustle. Al became a degenerate gambler, lost his wife, his job, his self-respect, and everything else that ever meant anything to him... butc
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Going On The Road: 1959
In the early days at Ave M back in the late 50s it wasn't what you would call a big action house, mainly the kids, such as myself, Roy, Marc, Bernie, Norman and many others would bowl pot games and some head to head matches. Many of the local bowling alleys such as Elmwood, Leader, Windsor, Shell and Jamar had the same situation. Saturday mornings and afternoons were the big times to us. A women by the name of Jose owned the lunch counter at Windsor lanes in Boro Park, she had her own stable of teenage bowlers, we would go down there on Saturday mornings and challenge her guys, trying to get into her deep pockets. It was something to talk about and look forward to all week long. We set up a lot of home and home matches and that's when the doctoring of the alley conditions would come into play, trying to gain some sort of an advantage, it usually would backfire. I remember the time I was bowling a home and home match against one of the top guns from Elmwood lanes. The first three games were at Ave M, I was ahead by a total of 38 pins going into their house. I threw a semi spinner and bowled much better on dry lanes. The lanes at Elmwood were so oiled down that nobody could hit them, the condition was actually laughable, the 38 pins became monumental, I won the match. If they had left the lanes alone, he would have had a legitimate chance of beating me... butch


Ave M Becomes A Big Time Action House: 1960
 The real action started at Ave M when two guys by the name of Mac and Stoop joined forces and made Ave M their home. They would go onto turning Ave M into probably the biggest action house in the Country. The big name bowlers came from all over the place, gunning for these two Damon Runyon type characters that would become legends in their own time. One of the greatest moments I remember is the night this 16-year-old tooth pick from Long Island came into Ave M with his backers. I honestly thought the ball weighed more than him. He went on to cleaning out the house; his name was Mike Lemongello, one of the greatest action bowlers of all time. He also did very well on the pro PBA tour as did many of the action bowlers who came out of Brooklyn, such as Johnny Petraglia and Marc Roth just to name a few. Through out the years there were many good action houses in the Metropolitan Area, Paramus, Yonkers, Kuskies, White Plains, White Stone, Colony, Kings Lanes, Fitzimmons, Bowlmore, Gil Hodgers, and many, many more, but Ave M was in a league of it's own, thanks to Mac and Stoop. These were the days that most of the major alleys stayed open 24hrs a day, 365 days a year. What more could I ask for.


 In my teenage years I had one major problem, my father, he was very strict about me being home no later than 10pm. That was fine before I started hearing about all this great action that was going on late at night after the leagues were over. By this time we were living on a dirt lined Street in Bensonhurst, across the street from the Cemetery. One Friday night I woke up about 3:30 in the morning and started daydreaming about what must be going on at the bowling alley. It became to much to bare just thinking about it, so I decided to gamble, I very quietly got dressed and stuffed some pillows under my blanket, and wrote a message that I left early to go fishing with my friends. My bedroom was in the back of the second floor of our home, I went out the window and jumped on top of the near by over hang to our back door, I then climbed down the peach tree that was near the back entrance. I walked the 10 blocks or so to the bowling alley, the anticipation and excitement was mounting every step I took. When I finally turned the corner at Ave M and McDonald, the site in front of me was beyond my wildest expectations. The entire block of the bowling alley on Ave M was lined with very expensive doubled parked cars, they were all over the place, the entrance to the bowling alley was brightly lite and many people were hanging around outside the door. As I made my way into the bowling alley my heart was pounding and now I totally couldn't believe the site in front of me. All 28 lanes were going and the place was so crowded you could hardly walk in. Money was being bet on the games like it was water and all the famous action bowlers that I had only heard stories about were there live and in the flesh. They came from all different areas, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, Philadelphia, you name it. My whole body was tinkling. I had to go to the bathroom real quick, which was on the second floor behind the locker rooms. As I walked up the steps there were people all over the place, a big money crap game was going on inside the locker rooms. I really thought I died and went to heaven. From that day on I was totally and hopelessly hooked, the world of action was definitely my world.


 Six months after sneaking out of my house and returning before dawn almost every night of the week, it finally happened. It was about 4 am; I was bowling a match with a total of about 500 dollars bet on me, a very sizable amount in those days. It was the tenth frame, I needed 4 or more pins to win the match, as I picked up the ball, I saw my father standing there, starring at me. My knees were knocking; I hit my ankle, threw a gutter ball, and lost the game. My father said to me, pack up your gear and get in the car. On the way home I expected to have my head busted open, instead, he listened to how much all this meant to me, and he became my backer. At this point I must have been spending every free moment I had at Ave M, I became a real good bowler, but was smart enough to stay right below the big names in the game, what I would call the 190s class action bowlers. It was easy for me to make a living off of these guys. Certain nights of the week, different houses had the big action, Saturday Night was Central Lanes in Westchester, Later on it would be Yonkers Bowl, and Friday Night was Whitestone in Queens. Ave M was the only house that had the big action 7 nights a week for a period of 2 to 3 years running.


 We had all the great action bowlers coming there. Bert Goodman, Sis Montevano & Johnny Myers, Fats & Deacon, Kenny Barber, Joe Santini, Freddy the Ox, the greatest bowler that ever lived on the 4lb wood, Stoop was the second best. The list goes on and on. They would come in with their own crew and backers, and people that just wanted to bet on them. There's a whole story around each bowler and their backers, which you'll see in the motion picture. To say they were all very colorful characters, would be a vast understatement. What started bringing all these bowlers to Ave M and kept them coming back was Mac & Stoop, who mostly bowled as doubles partners at that stage of their lives. These were two of the biggest characters of all, especially Stoop. I never tired of their endless stories about their lives, on and off the lanes. Besides being great bowlers they also were great whoremasters who loved to party. Mac was older and well respected, as a bowler and a human being. The sixties were really a very innocent time in bowling circles, people were looking to make a rep for themselves, and a match usually ended when someone went broke. The seventies were much different; everyone seemed to be looking for an edge. I saw matches end before they began, like the time at Yonkers bowl, when the great Richie Hornright walked off the lanes because his opponent Joe Beradi, threw 10 power house strikes in a row in practice. I was shocked, I never saw that before, and Richie was truly one of the best action bowlers in the world... butch


My Main Man: 1961
 It's 1961 and besides my father backing me I had my own crew. My partner, like myself, was also 17. Paul's life is a whole motion picture and book within itself. He was a good-looking macho Italian womanizer, he was also a mans, man. Paul's father owned a very successful wholesale bagel bakery, Paul worked as a bagel baker and hated it, even though he earned 3 times the money that most family men did. No matter how much he made, it was never enough. Many times in the middle of the night he would have to go to the family business, or sneak into his fathers bedroom, to (lets say), borrow some money to get into action with. Paul's father was the type of man that would kick the living shit out of him for any reason at all, but that never stopped him from doing whatever he wanted.


 We would be involved with each other, off and on for most of our lives, including making sex films that showed on Broadway and through out the World at the tender age of 20. Paul was working with Andy Worhal and many other famous or near famous people, you'll see a lot more about these years in the motion picture. We were two very young adults with an office on 7th Ave above the Carnegue Deli, interviewing naked girls for our flicks. Paul would end up firing the leading man many times, and take over the roll himself... butch


Last Weekend Before The Big Mistake: 1966
It's 1966 and one of the toughest matches I ever bowled was against Richie Grossman, who would be found a few years later in the trunk of his car in Gravesend Brooklyn with a bullet in the head. It was a Friday night, A week before I would make the biggest mistake of my life, getting married, I left my future wife about midnight and walked the 5 blocks to the bowling alley. The night before, my crew, consisting of Paul, Doug, and Larry, had made a mid size hit of about eight hundred bucks, that was suppose to be our kitty for tonight's action. Paul wanted me to bowl Richie , Doug and Larry felt he was to strong because I wasn't bowling that much lately, and Richie was a workhorse. Paul immediately split the kitty up and told Doug and Larry to go get fucked, he turned to me and said bowl him, you'll eat him alive.


 It turns out it was my best night ever; my first three games were 290, 289 and 246. The first 15 games I averaged about 240 and we were up about eight thousand, by far the most money I was ever winning. Richie went broke, I paid for the lines, the match was over or so I thought, I was feeling great, couldn't wait to get out of there and split the money with Paul, in walks Sal the plumber. Richie talks him into backing him and here I am, back on the alleys with him again. It's now about 5:30 in the morning, all the people that were betting on me had gone home, we were covering Richie for about fifteen hundred a game all by ourselves. By nine thirty Richie completely wore me out, I quit winning 300 hundred dollars, Richie was pissed that I quit because he was still down thousands that the outside betters had left with earlier.

 The next night I was at Leader lanes at about 1 am, I was still exhausted from the night before and swore I wouldn't bowl. My partner Doug begged me to bowl doubles with him. Relentlessly I gave in and bet only ten dollars out of disgust of what happened the night before, we went on to beating 4 different doubles teams, never lost a game all night, cleaned out the house, I never increased my bet past ten dollars, many thousands had been won, I made 170 dollars. I walked out the front door with my bowling ball in hand to the middle of Coney Island Avenue, made my approach, delivered the ball towards the sewer, which became my head pin, that was the last time I threw a bowling ball for quite some time. The following Saturday I got married and didn't even walk into a bowling alley for the next several years... butch 


Butch's Big Hustle: 1976
 I had worked on Wall Street for a few years and rose through the ranks quickly, I became the manager of the margin dept at Bache and then Reynolds & Company. I was very unhappy working for someone so I quit and purchased a NYC Taxi Cab medallion, much to the disagreement of my wife, who loved the idea of being the bosses wife at the office parties, what a put down it was to say my husbands a cab driver.


 I decided to work nights, which at least put me back in my environment. My workday began every night at 6 PM after the rush hour; I would stop at about 12 (short hours) and go to where it all started, the bar on Ovington Ave. The bowling alley part no longer existed, the poolroom was expanded, but I was there for the card games that went on right at the bar. I would meet my partner Larry who also went to work on wall St and then purchased a cab with me. We both supplemented our night's pay from the card games each night; the other players just weren't in our class. It was like taking candy from babies; besides, they were all drunk on top of it.


 One night we were having a drink and just talking, I think we wiped every body out. Larry was saying we should start getting some exercise, why not go bowling. At first I said no, but then he talked me into it, It was a Tuesday night about 2 in the morning and we soon found out that none of the local lanes were open 24 hours any more. I actually got a sick feeling in my stomach; I was 30 years old and felt as though my era had slipped by me.


 We decided to take a gamble and drive out to Long Island to see if Green Acres Bowl was open. On the way out we started to reminisce about all the years of action we were involved in and could it be possible that it doesn't exist any more, I felt that was impossible, it was always there. It took about 40 minutes to get there, as we approached the shopping center, I found myself almost praying that it would be open. A great relief came across me when I saw the outside lights on. As we walked into the alleys my eyes were searching everywhere at once, Green acres was a very large establishment. Would there be any action, would there be anyone I new. All of a sudden I spotted something going on way down at the end of the right side of the bowling alley. I found my heart actually racing as we walked down there, sure as shit! It was a match game. I felt a great feeling of relief go through my body, it was only one game, but that really seemed to mean something to me.


 I didn't know anyone that was there, they were descend bowlers, bowling for a few hundred a game, with about 8 people betting on the side. One guy was covering all the action for this one bowler called the beeper, he was called the Beeper because he didn't talk, he beeped. The person backing him was named Barry Bernstein, a middle aged Jewish man who owned a successful business in the garment center, and loved to gamble. After watching a few games, I did what I hadn't done since I was 11 years old. I rented a pair of house shoes and started bowling with a house ball. I bowled a few games with Larry, we both bowled pretty bad, which was nothing new to Larry; he never was much of a bowler.


 The match game was over and every one was just sitting around shooting the shit. From where I was sitting with Larry it wasn't hard to over hear them, it gave me a little insight into what was going on in the area. Thursday nights, the action was at Kuskies in Lynbrook Long Island after the Classic league, a rich trucking company owner by the name of Mac, was the big money backer there, Mac was in his mid sixties. Saturday night the action was at Raceway lanes in Yonkers, a 2-floor movie house, converted into a bowling alley. The big names came from all over for the weekend action. Friday night was Whitestone lanes in Queens. The biggest action around was being backed by Bill Daly, A thin guy about 5ft 10, in his mid 20s. Bill was a 190s bowler himself, but only went head to head with someone when he had a big advantage. He figured people were willing to take a shot at his long money. His #1 horse was a 16year old by the name of Jeff Kidder; Jeff had ice water in running through his veins, and was maybe the best action bowler I ever saw. Where Bill Daly's money came from, nobody knew, he went into the Army broke, when he came out and started backing Jeff and Cliffie Bergman, he covered all bets, no matter what the amount was. It was fun watching Jeff bowling against some of Macs horses from Kuskies, Mac sponsored quite a few top pro bowlers on the PBA tour. When some of his guys were in town, Jeff would bowl them, usually coming out on top.


Instead of going to the bar every night we started to check out these different action houses, stayed quietly in the background, and just observed what was going on. Most of the players were different from the last time I was involved. To some extent the action was even bigger than when I was in it, but there wasn't as much of it, another big change was how careful everyone seemed to be about whom they bowled, they all kept looking for an edge. I was driving with Larry to Green Acres on a Monday night, this time I brought my own bowling ball and shoes; I kept them from years ago. Larry said I should get back in shape and bowl some of these guys. I agreed, but not the way he meant it. I told him my plan was for us to act like big money pigeons, I told him I wanted to bowl the backers, Barry Bernstein, and then Bill Daly with Mac betting on him. Larry said it'll never happen, some one would know me from the past and kill the deal, besides, where would I get the type of bankroll needed to bowl these guys with.. I told Larry to leave it up to me, I could con them, and the cash would come from Dougie, who was doing very well with a Amcco transmission business that he owned, Doug robbed all his customers blind.


 It was some years since I saw Doug, but I new if I told him I had a pigeon he'd come running. The first thing we did that night was bundle up all our singles from the cab business with some big bills on the top and bottom. I managed to start up a conversation with Barry, mentioned that I use to be a fairly good bowler years ago but can't seem to recapture it. I figured this way I was covered incase any one told him about me. I also mentioned that I owned a cab company. I then started bowling against Larry a few alleys away and started flashing the bankroll after each game to pay off Larry for the game I just lost to him. That was the hardest part, being bad enough to actually loose to Larry.


 This went on a few days a week for the next 2 months, I formed a nice relationship with Barry, a few times he asked to join in with us and make it a 3 way pot game. I declined, I told him I've seen him bowl and I wasn't back in shape yet. Barry was a low 170s bowler; I was already shooting 190s or better in other houses when I practiced for real. By locking him out I was setting him up for the big kill, then I figured the money I beat him for would be used against Bill Daly, with hopefully Mac betting on Bill, If all went right, I could make a few years pay. I already was forming a relationship with the both of them, whom both disliked Barry. I mentioned how Barry was trying to hustle me, and that if I could just get a little better I would bowl him, don't forget, Bill was a much better bowler than Barry. I kept coming off as a has been, with lots of fresh money.


 Through out this period they saw Larry beat me for what seemed to be a small fortune, he would kid around with me and ask how much fresh money my cabs brought in for him that night, he acted very obnoxious. It got to a point where they all wanted a piece of me instead of just Larry getting it all. He actually would wink at them, as though to say, this is my private fish. I called my friend Doug in New Jersey, told him what was going on, and just as I had hoped he said to set it up, money was no problem.


 That night at Green Acres I managed to barely beat Larry for the first time and started talking like a big shot to Barry, I said it's finally coming back, that I'm ready for him head to head. I think he thought I was nuts. Larry kept on saying that I shouldn't even consider bowling Barry, as planned, I got mad at Larry, told him to get fucked, and in the heat of anger told Barry to name the day. To my surprise, Barry said the only place he would bowl me was at Times Square Lanes in Manhattan, 42nd St & B'way. That really threw me for a loop, I couldn't figure it. Turns out that's the general area where his business is, and that's actually his home lanes. I was never in Times Square Lanes let alone bowl there, I said no problem. The match was set for that Wednesday night.


 I met Doug and his brother in front of a coffee shop near the bowling alley, Larry didn't come because he and Douglas weren't on talking terms, I gave him a piece of the pie anyway. Doug's older brother came with him, had arms like tree trunks and a permit to carry. The bowling alley was right around the corner from the famous Ames poolroom, where the Hustler with Jackie Gleason was shot. Times Square lanes was below street level, as we entered, we saw quite a few people waiting for us, we were amongst the few white people there, I was beginning to wonder if this was a mistake, maybe Barry knew I was hustling him. He greeted us and asked where Larry was; I said I was still pissed at him. I introduced Doug and his brother, who accidentally on purpose, let his piece be seen. We started practicing, after about 10 balls each; we were ready to start the match. I asked Barry what he wanted to bowl for, to my astonishment, he only put down $200, At this point Douglas stood up, faced the crowd of about 25 people, took out a tremendous wade of money, all $100s, and boldly announced, I'm covering the house, put it up gentlemen.


 At that moment I felt sky high, it was a long time since I felt like this last. I went on to beat Barry 7 straight games, after purposely loosing the second game. The hardest part was keeping it close. Barry kept going into the empty office of the bowling alley and getting more cash, liked he owned the place, maybe he did. We took him and the crowd for $9000 cash; the last game was a $2500 marker. I was paid the following week at Green Acres; Barry told me he'd never bowl me again. I told him that if I get better I'd like to bowl Bill Daly next, I think he knows what happened, he said to me, let me know when you set up the match, I like to bet on you, and then he winked at me. It took another month to set up a match with Bill Daly. Douglas was broke from the trotters; I got in touch with Paul, who made arrangements with his bookie Cubbie to back me. The match was set for Kuskies on a Thursday night at 1:30 am.


 That night to prepare mentally for what I hoped to be the biggest money night of my life, I left my house the regular time for work, instead I went to the Manhattan Beach hotel and checked in. Went to my room, took a shower, asked for a wake up call at 9:30, laid in bed nude with just the sheet on me, I wanted to totally soak up the moment, daydream about beating Bill and Mac for about 50 big ones, all of a sudden the phone rings, It was my wake up call, I had dosed off. I met Paul and Cubby, we went to a steak joint on the way to Kuskies. Cubby kept asking me if I was sure I could beat this guy, Paul had told him it was a shoe in, which was not true, Bill Daly was a good bowler. Cubby wanted to know how much to bet, I told him to start off at $2000, he choked, but said OK. Paul said he would do the betting. I told him, Bill would just say to name it, just tell him the amount, no bluff plays. We get to the alleys, picked a pair, and started practicing. Just like I hoped, Mac was there. I'm hitting the lanes real well in practice, Paul does what I told him not to, he asks Bill Daly, what do you wanna bowl for. Bill Daly immediately shoots back, 5 grand, Mac chirps in from the background I'll take 5 more on Bill, to save face for Paul I had to say, I only wanted to start for two. I win the first game, tie the second game, win the 3rd and 4th, Bill comes over to me and has the balls to say, my lowest game is 214, and I haven't won a game yet. He said I had one of 2 choices. Change lanes or bowl Jeff Kidder on these lanes. I said no to both, he said if I didn't pick one of the two, I would never get the chance again to get into his money. I told him to get fucked, and put my ball away. We ended up winning $10,000, I never bowled him again.


 As I was walking out Barry Bernstein was walking in, he really got pissed off when he found out about the match and I didn't call him. He said it wasn't the money, it was the chance to rub it in Bills face, that he really disliked him. It was mixed feelings on the way home, the money was good, but we felt cheated. Once again, Larry wasn't there, because he and Paul also don't talk anymore... butch 


Mattie Takes It In The Mouth: 1961
One of the things that slowed down the action at Ave M for a while was what happened to Mattie. He was a tall powerful dangerous person. In his earlier years he rode with a motorcycle gang out of Coney Island, nobody fucked with them. He was the type that would rob neighborhood stores, and gasoline stations by gunpoint, and get away with it because no one would have the balls to finger him. One night he held up the card game with a shot gun at Al Rosas apartment, even though they he had a mask on, every body new it was him, Mattie's size and voice gave it away. These were all local guys that hung out in the bowling alley. One of the guys said Mattie! That's you, he just stood there and said, I don't know what you're talking about; he made everybody at the game strip off all their cloths, took the money and fled. When confronted the next day, he just laughed and said your all nuts. A few months later Mattie had been stoned on pills and god knows what else for a couple of weeks. The big problem was he started intimidating some neighborhood gangsters while drinking at a downtown bar. One Sunday night two caddy's pulled up in front of the bowling alley, four guys got out, walked in, went up to the bar where they found Mattie and asked him to step out side, which he did. They walked him around the corner, put one bullet each in his mouth. To say the least, the cops where hanging around for the next couple of weeks... butch 


We Get Taken: 1978
It's 1978, I'm a partner with Paul in a Company called Leonard Paper, we supply mainly wholesale bagel bakeries with the bags they need to deliver the bagels in. The first thing we did was building ourselves a nice office in this old run down building on McDonald Ave. We hired a driver and warehouse man, there wasn't enough money being made to pay them, so we went to the track everyday and ran a poker game on Friday nights to support the business, which made us feel legitimate.


We actually did pretty well at the track, once we stopped following the touts and inside information. When we were getting word from the jockeys, trainers etc, we were constantly running like chickens without heads to Monmouth, Garden State, Penn National, even the Trotters. It rarely worked out, but was a lot of fun. We did much better doing the handicapping ourselves. Paul was actually a very good handicapper and I was the systems guy handling the betting. We would stay in the Man Of War room; in those days it was a fancy restaurant. Our bookie Miltie would stop by before each race and take our bets, no cash up front. We were betting about a grand a race. If we won he'd pay us at the end of the day, if we lost, we didn't have to pay until the next time we saw him, he also picked up our check each day and gave us club house passes.


The card game was a real winner for us, we'd spent about 200 catering it, paid a hundred for the use of some ones apartment for the night, and cut on the average about 1500 hundred for about 12 hours of work. The real money came when we sat in because the game because of a shortage of players. Our main customers were the Greek Diner owners, they had lots of cash and loved to bluff, it made for big pots. We had one fish I brought into the game, Howie, an insurance agent, A Jew from Staten Island, 5ft 8in, about 150 lbs and wore lots of gold, had a mustache, and always wore sunglasses, he thought he was the swiftest, coolest, brightest, con job on the face of the earth, a total creep and scum bag, he was easy pickings, lost every week and couldn't figure out why, he kept coming back for more. One night we had some heavy hitter mafia types from down town Brooklyn, one of them pulled a gun on Howie and accused him of dealing seconds, Paul saved his ass that night and smoothed everything over, they never came back to the game. Howie denied everything, said they were nuts, we believed him, we were wrong. Paul got even with Howie a year later when the game broke up. Howie got Paul a five thousand dollar loan through connections he had, the loan was approved without being checked out. Paul was suppose to kick back fifteen hundred, a grand for Howie and five hundred for the inside man, instead of giving Howie the money when he came to the warehouse to collect it, Paul pulled down the big iron gate and gave Howie a beating. He still had the balls to ask for his cut, Paul hit him again.


One day while eating at a seafood restaurant on Nostrand Ave, the owner of the place, Jake, asked if we wanted some fresh blood for the game, he played with us every week and almost always lost. He said he had some pigeons that were customers of his and looking for action, we said fine. Turns out they were all professional card cheats, (mechanics). The first two who came into the game that weekend was Teddy and Mel, Teddy was one of, if not the best card and dice mechanic in the country, Mel was very good also, but still in training, the following week they brought in two catchers, a woman and man in there sixties, the woman dressed very expensively and was suppose to own a jewelry business, the man with the cowboy hat was suppose to be a rich Texan. They got paid a salary for being fed the winning hands, that's why they're called catchers.


A few weeks later crazy Ed started to play in the game, Ed was an ex special forces maniac that owned 2 stores. One day his Ave X store was held up while he was there, he crabbed his gun and went running after them, commandeered a passing car and made the women driver chase after the other car racing down Ave. X while he was shooting at it. When he first came to our game, he tried to put his gun on the table; we had to explain that wasn't allowed.


After the third week we started getting suspicious, there were just to many pots with multiple good hands, the same people seemed to win all the really big pots. These two old folks were winning unusually high amounts of money each week. Teddy was a real character, he started off with a full bottle of liquor in front of him and slowly got very drunk, or so he wanted us to believe. The liquor was for real, but he still did his thing, he was extremely intelligent, tall, thin, a full head of hair, bulging eyes, very large hands, a tremendous asset for his trade. His one big problem was that he was so good at what he did; he would always throw hints at what was happening as a challenge to catch him. This made his partners very nervous. A lot of people in the trade wouldn't work with him for that reason; the consensus was that he was nuts.


One-day years later I saw him at the Taj in A.C., he parlayed 2 hard eights, the original bet was 400 into 40 thousand, I made eighteen hundred, two one hundred bets, I didn't parlay my second bet.


Back to my game, as much as we watched very closely we couldn't spot what was happening, he was that good with cards. One night after the card game was over, the usual crap game began on the floor against a foam pillow. As usual Teddy was throwing hard ways at will. I watched real closely when Boris had the dice, what I spotted was that he really wasn't shaking them up in his hand, and when he threw them they never touched each other as they rolled off the foam pillow. I took a shot, I called Mel into the bathroom and simply said, and I we know what's going on, end the crap game and let's talk. The response I got totally floored me, he looked me square in the eyes and said, ya got us.


After everybody left, Teddy and Mel stayed behind and told all. For the next three hours, Teddy showed us how good he was with a deck of cards and dice, he could go both ways, stack the deck as he picked it up, the most amazing thing I ever saw, he set up 3 pat hands in a matter of seconds. He also showed us how he just switched the whole deck when he cut the cards. The new deck called a cooler had already been pre set up when he went to the bathroom. With dice it was the same thing, he could switch them for a loaded pair at will, or what really amazed me was the way he could manipulate legit dice, like I saw him do years later at the Taj. He also told us that Howie was dealing seconds and still loosing, they never called him on it, no reason to. They said he also brought loaded dice into the game. That's why Paul took care of him the way he did. We broke up the game after that, Teddy went on to completely breaking crazy Ed, he lost both stores, lost his house, lost his wife who he beat on a regular basis, and became a truck driver. I haven't seen Teddy since the Taj in 89... butch


Richie Finds God: 1983
 I get a phone call from one of my closest friends who I hadn't seen in years, Richie, he's at his mothers house on McDonald Ave, I drive over to pick Richie up, over the past 20 years we've seen each other a few times, It's always the same, feels like we've never been apart. The first time I saw him after high school was a real shocker, I'm at Lackland A.F. base serving KP in the mess hall, and I'm by the back window and see Richie's head go by. You could of blown me over, turns out he joined the Navy and was at Corpis Christie Texas. He some how found out I was at Lackland and hitched hiked up to see me. We talked for about five minutes and he was gone. The next time I heard from him was the following year. I was home in Brooklyn, he got out of the Navy on a bad conduct discharge and was in Beverly Hills, he wanted me to fly out and join him, said he had some deal going down and the cash was rolling in, he would send me the airline tickets, I declined the offer. From there Richie moved to Dallas Texas and married the daughter of some big shot racketeer, the only problem was he wouldn't let Richie become part of the business. It's now the early seventies, Richies getting divorced, lives by himself, and runs a card game for extra cash. The game gets held up, Richie thinks he recognizes the guy under the mask, calls his name and is walking towards him, the guy aims his gun at Richie who turns away and catches three bullets in the back. I'm now standing in my mother's kitchen on 57th street; Richie takes off his shirt to show me the bullet holes going through his body. This had happened only one week earlier, not one bullet hit anything vital, and they all went cleanly through him, a miracle within itself. He also opened a bag with the blood soaked shirt he was wearing that night, he said he was saving it for someone. A year or so later I received a letter from Dallas, all that was inside was a news paper clipping about some guy that was found shot to death by the side of the road.


 The next time I saw Richie was about 1976, once again he calls me from his mothers house, I pick him up that night about midnight with my cab. He comes walking towards me on crutches, as he reaches the cab, the throws the crutches into the middle of the street and gives out some sort of a very loud howl.


 One night as he was coming home to his apartment he noticed a big hole in front of his building that wasn't covered, they had been working on the water pipes. He climbs down in the hole and lies there until he's discovered that morning. At the time his job was driving a tractor-trailer, which he tried to continue to do, but kept passing out. Every time they sent him to be examined, he would insist there was nothing wrong, and then go out and feint again. Some how he fooled the doctors and the insurance company, got a bundle of cash up front, and an income for life. He was in NY to celebrate and let loose, the last year and a half was really hard for him, he had to constantly play the roll of an injured person. I also found out something else about Richie that I didn't know. He was seeing a shrink for this big sex problem he had. Seems he was constantly horny, the first thing he did when he got inside the cab was show me the biggest bundle of cash I ever saw, tell me what happened and how he got it, and then said he had to get laid.


 Being a New York City cab driver, that wasn't much of a problem for me. What became a problem was the three and four times every night that he wanted me to take him to a different whore house, on the way home about 7 am each morning he would select a number from screw magazine and make arrangements for a girl to come to his mothers house. He said that when he would talk to his shrink about this problem he would get all hot and have to go into the bath room and jerk off, which he did numerous times each day. He stayed about three weeks, spent about twenty grand, and gave his mother ten. By the time he left he decided what business he was going to go into with his new found fortune, he'd become a pimp.


 Dallas had very strict laws about prostitution, that's why there was very little of it, that is, until Richie got started. He made a lot of contacts the three weeks he was here, and took a lot of phone numbers. Richie set up along with his partner, he originally wanted me to be that partner, but I declined, a legitimate referral agency that would send freelance models out to be photographed. His fee for this was forty dollars that the customer paid directly to him. The girl was to be paid one hundred dollars, also directly from the customer. Richie had no control over any side arrangements that might be made between the girls and the customers. Some of the girls got busted for prostitution, but the cops weren't able to nail Richie. He now had forty girls working out of his agency, he also had four girls living and sleeping with him in this gigantic bed that he had specially made, it helped satisfy his problem.


 The local mob got wind of how much he was making and wanted in, Richies hotheaded partner told them to get fucked. One day Richie was jerking off in the bathroom of his office, a few guys came in with shotguns and blew his partner away. That night Richie was in New York. He stayed for a couple of weeks and didn't go back until his ex father in law said it was safe. Richie needed a new business to go into, he rented space in one of the most prestigious retail buildings in Dallas, and opened up an art gallery. One of the ways he helped stock the gallery was to travel around the Country and visit the Libraries of some of our largest universities. He devised a technique for stealing books that contained very valuable prints by famous artists. I saw him in Brooklyn with his brand new Town Car loaded with these books; he was on his way back to Dallas.


 A few years went by and now it's 1983, once again a get a phone call from Richie, he's at his mothers house again, she still lives on McDonald Ave with the train going by her window. That old house has great memories for me of the card games I played in with Richie, his step father, and his older brother Billy, I was 13 at the time, we'd play baseball poker, it made for really big pots, as crazy as Richie was, his brother was even worse.


 Billy hung out with the Ave P boys, a really tough crowd. One Saturday night Richie and I were at a dance being held in the gym of St Brendons church on Ave O, we were out of our element. Some of the local guys from Ave O started fucking with us, there was about twenty five of them, they sent over there smallest guy, who had a real big mouth. They told us we didn't belong there. Richie said he was going to sneak out and get his brother, I said fine. About a half hour later Richie comes walking in with Frankie Erf from Ave N, Frankie's wearing a white T shirt and tie, he walks over to me and says, let me take care of this, I said fine, Richie tells me his brother is outside. The three of us walk over to this short prick from Ave O and all his boys start surrounding us, The Erf says to the little scum bag, outside, and points to the door, as everyone starts walking towards the exit some one yells from over by the windows, hey guys, you better check this out before you go out there. Everybody including us walks over to the big windows to look out side, the first thing I heard was some one say holy shit, when I looked outside, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. There must have been at least a hundred guys there from Ave N and Ave P; they had baseball bats, chains, garbage can covers, and what ever else in their hands, a thing of beauty. The next thing we saw were cop cars coming from all directions, the fun was over before it began, we walked out feeling like kings.


 The next time Ritchie's brother got involved with us was when we got hustled by a father and son combo. Some rich Jewish kid invited us to a card game at his home; he lived in a very expensive apartment building on Foster Ave. His father played in, and cut the game, after we left, both of us had lost, Richie said the father was dealing seconds from the bottom of the deck. Like I said earlier, Richie doesn't usually confront people, he sets them up. We arranged for the son to come to our card game in the basement of this apartment house on Ocean Parkway, this old man that we use to hustle every payday was the janitor of the building and kept his tools downstairs. Riches brother Billy met us there and we took the kid to the old mans workroom. As soon as we walked into the room Richie pushed him into the wall and said we know we were cheated at your house and wanted our cash back, the kid denied it, Billy told Richie to hold the kids hand down, he picked up a very big long knife and said I'll fix the cock sucker, he came down hard with the knife towards the kids hand. I don't know what his intentions really were, but he cut part of the kid's finger off. I almost threw up.


 When I picked up Richie he asked if he could stay at my house, I was living with RoseMarie but not married to her yet. I checked with her and she said fine, she gave him her master bedroom and a bag of candy each night to take to bed with him.


 Richie told me he found God and how it happened. There was a six-month period the previous year that he was completely blind, the doctors couldn't tell why, but he couldn't see a thing. A friend of his told him about this church where some people seemed to get healed. He figured he'd try anything, he was brought up to the alter where a man walked over to him, placed his hand on his head, and said, I and God forgive you for all of your sins and what you did to me and my family. It turns out that this guy had screwed Richard, or so Richard believed in a business deal a few years back, Richard got even with him, much in the same way he did to the Duval guy years ago, he fucked up the guys whole life and family. As the guy walked arm in arm back up the isle with Richie, his eyesight started coming back, at first it was like a blinding light sneaking in. Richie said from that day on he started giving up all his worldly possessions, and donating his money to the church and various charities. He moved out of his fancy apartment, got rid of the art gallery, and was living and working on a small run down ranch outside of Dallas. I told him straight out I didn't believe him and what was the con. He insisted it was the truth and went back to Dallas after a three-day stay with us. I was totally confused.


 A couple of weeks later he calls up and speaks to me and Roe, he said the days he spent with us were the happiest of his life, the candy Roe gave him each night was something he would never forget. He wanted to know if he could come and live with us and get involved in the entertainment business we were just starting. Roe told him he was always welcome to stay at our home. Two weeks later he called again and says he's leaving Dallas in a week to come and move in with us, I felt very confused, I love Richie, but I'm a very private personal person, I didn't think this would work out but didn't have the heart to tell Richie. A few days later I get a phone call from Riches mother, that morning the owner of the ranch was going into town to pick something up, Richie volunteered to take the truck and do the chore for him. On the way to town some young kids were speeding towards him, they hit him head on, Richie died instantly. He never came to live with us, he moved in with God... butch


Philly Schwartz: 1957
Philly Schwartz was one of the little pleasures in my life. Whenever I, or any of the guys wanted to leave reality for a while, all we had to do was go to Philly's house on 23rd Ave. For some reason he always seemed to be there, Philly was on the tall, dark side, fairly good looking, he was the original Walter Mitty. Whenever we would visit him, he would spend at least one full hour telling about his adventures of the night before. He would be very meticulous and descriptive about every little detail. Many of his journeys were in far away Countries, Philly was our age 13, he was among other things, a secret government agent with a license to kill, a rock star, a champion boxer, a race car driver, and a swimming champion, a pool hustler and big cat trainer. On occasion he would even have to leave this planet, his stories were so on the spot, and full of details, we just sat in awe almost believing them. Philly was a very serious person, if anyone laughed or snickered while he was telling about one of his adventures he would fly off the handle and throw the guy out of his house, he said he couldn't stand being around immature or ignorant people. I lost track of Philly years ago, I miss his stories, and I never laughed, not in front of him anyway.


There's no Business like Show Business: 1984
I'm home reading the paper, an article caught my eye about some guy in N.J. that hired this Michael Jackson look a like for his sons birthday, and how successful it was. My son Joseph's twelfth birthday was approaching; I figured that would be a great present. After suggesting it to Rosemarie we decided to have his party right at the warehouse, it fell on a Saturday and that was perfect. We contacted the agency that represented the look a like, he was available for that date. We advertised that Michael Jackson would be at the Party Warehouse and drew quite a crowd. I had a PA system hooked up so Michael could dance on the loading dock; the streets were packed with people. When Michael arrived, the entrance was more than I expected, he pulled up in a stretch limousine. Two professional looking body guards got out, and flanked the car, the driver opened the door and Michael came out, the crowd went nuts.


He walked inside, signed autographs, posed for pictures, and danced to three songs on the dock, he was great. His departure was as showy as his arrival had been; a perfect day, and we also did a lot of business. A couple of days later we get a phone call from the look a like, whose real stage name is Jimmi Crash, he says he would like to stop by and visit, we told him he was welcome anytime. A week later he stops by and tells us how nervous he was that day, when they turned the corner and he saw all the people waiting by the warehouse, he also mentioned how welcomed Rosemarie made him feel, and what a good feeling he got from her. He went on to tell us how badly the different agents treat the entertainers, and take advantage of them financially. He asked if Rosemarie would consider acting as his agent and getting him work through the party warehouse. He also said he could bring in some of the best look a likes in the country, Madonna, Cindy Lauper, etc. We thought about it, and decided to give it a try.


Rosemarie became like a mother to all of them, she would go on the jobs with them, and it got to the point they didn't want to work unless Roe was at their side. The response at the parties always amazed me, they were so good at what they did, half the people would think they were real, the kids would scream and chase after the Limo as we left. They were at our house constantly, we have a real nice patio and den, and they loved it, along with the rest of the house. After a couple of years of handling mainly look a likes, we got involved with Lee Elvis, the number one Elvis impersonator.


Lee Elvis, is, and always will be, a whole story within himself, I love him. He came to us after hearing how fairly we treated everyone. The second he saw Roe, he flipped out, he was with his new wife Jan, and went into this whole thing about how Roe looked exactly like the women that he had loved the most in the whole world, his manager, who died on him. He takes out a picture of her; it did look like Rosemarie's twin. The first time I saw Lee perform was at Christopher's nightclub, it sold out, and Lee was phenomenal, I filmed the whole show. Then there was the Howard Stern show; actually a pilot Howard was doing in competition with Arsenial Hall for a slot on channel 5. I went to the studio with his wife and some bodyguards; we took a limo and had it wait for us. Part of the show featured Elvis look a likes, Lee was the spokesperson for them. Howard taunted all of them, Lee was the only one that went back at Howard, he through a karate kick that just missed Howard, and Howard fell backwards getting out of the way. Lee also verbally assaulted Howard, Howard talked about Lee everyday on his radio show for a full week after that.


What happened after the show really impressed me. We get into the limo, Lee tells the driver to go around the corner and pull up in front of the Carnegie Deli. It's Saturday night about 7 pm and there's a long line to get into the place, I said forget it, Lee says were going in. He gets out and I follow him past the line and directly in, he calls for the owner who was upstairs, the next thing I saw was people being moved, and doubled up at other tables, while preparing an empty table for the six of us, there was no check given to us, you figure it, I can't.


The same thing happened years later at the Hard Rock café on W 57th street. Lee was extremely temperamental like the real Elvis; he drove his band, and everyone else nuts. I don't know how his wife put up with him. The proudest moment I had with him was when we set up an audition for a show being produced by the same people that did Jesus Christ Super Star. The auditions were for a show that would open in the big room of the Las Vegas Hilton, then go on the road, and end up at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. They were looking for a young, middle aged, and older Elvis. I called up and told them about Lee, I said he was leaving the next day for Pittsburgh, and only had a short time available for the audition. They agreed to take him directly in.


We arrived at 44th street and B'way by Limo, went up to the 18th floor and found a mob of Elvis impersonators. As they had promised, we were ushered directly into the main room. It was a very large, had high ceilings, huge windows, it was a dance rehearsal room. There was reporters and TV camera men all lined up against one wall, about 50 of them, CBS, ABC, NBC, Cable, you name it, they were there. They all had one thing in common, they all looked very bored, and half asleep, that is until Lee walked in. He was dressed in street cloths, his street cloths consisted of, studded, very tight, designer dungarees, with a very large chrome belt buckle, ruffled shirt, and enough gold and diamonds on his hands and around his neck to make Mr. T jealous. He had a small thin cigar in his mouth, a walking cane, and had duplicates of the great glasses that Elvis wore. There was one piano player on the left side of the room, no PA or microphones. Lee walked directly over to the piano player, whispers something in his ear, turns abruptly, and walks doubled paced towards the middle of the floor, and loudly announces to the piano player! hit it.


The whole place is on there feet, cameras in hand, Lee blows them away while doing three songs, one more than any one else did. He walks swiftly and directly out of the room, he's sky high, I tell him to go into the bathroom and get his composure, all the reporters are following him out. This is when I first realize I'm not camera shy, the first thing I see is this CBS camera coming directly towards me, along with a famous reporter. I said to myself, this is kids stuff, go get em. To my surprise I found myself talking to these reporters like it was old hat, didn't faze me at all. Lee came out and did his thing, that night on the six and eleven o'clock news, Lee, myself, and Roe, were on every single channel, channel 9 used Lee all night as a promo spot for the 10 o'clock news.


The next one that came our way was Ernie Contri, the number one Frank Sinatra sound alike, anywhere. Ernie doesn't look at all like Frank, but sounds exactly like him. Ernie is also a total character, and I love him to. Ernie is the second act we booked into the lounges of Atlantic City, the first was a band that we put together by the name of NEW York Heat, and I own the trade name. Both New York Heat, and Ernie, started at Caesers Boardwalk Regency Hotel. Ernie went on to playing Trump Plaza, and was suppose to become the number 1, A act, at Resorts International, a two year contract, 36 weeks a year, 12 grand a week, he fucked it up, and lost the gig. We would've received 15% of the pie, 18 hundred a week. New York Heat was offered a gig as the opening act and back up band for Billy Fellows, the biggest lounge act in the country at the time. They would of worked Vegas and A.C. all year round. They would of made seven grand a week, less our 15% for the five of them. They started fighting with each other and fucked it up. Then came our prize jewel, Just Us.


My brother owned a grocery store in Boro Park Brooklyn, one day he called me and said some guy wanted to meet with me. The way he said it I new what type of a guy he meant, one of the boys. This very well dressed, good looking, tough looking, Rich looking, middle aged Italian guy started telling me about the band he represented, Just Us, I told him I knew there reputation, as being one of the top three cover bands, in the Metropolitan area. He said with all of his connections, he hasn't been able to get them booked in Atlantic City, and that's where they belong, I agreed. He told me how everyone would appreciate it; if we were able get them in Resorts International.


Just Us was made up of seven good looking second generation Italians, had great bodies, great voices, and they had been together for 10 years, they really had their shit together, they were so good, and so popular, they got fifteen hundred a night in local clubs. In preparation for their A.C. auditions they brought in a professional choreographer, and added some dance steps to their act. When Ron walker, the entertainment director for Resorts, heard and saw them doing the late fifties and early sixties, he was sold, Ron doesn't get excited to often, he was excited. They were a big hit at Resorts, like New York Heat, and Ernie was at Ceases, Rosemarie was getting quite a reputation for having the best acts around.


One day we're at our condo in Margate, reading about the up coming grand opening of Donald Trumps Taj MaHal. We found out where there offices were on RT 9 in Pleasantville, and went there, Rosemarie got into see the entertainment director, a young woman named Jean Reagan, and they hit it off right away. Jean agreed to come to Resorts that night, seems she still didn't have what she considered the right band for Donald's, grand opening party, three thousand big shots and celebrities were being flown in from all around the world, she also needed the right band to open up the Kasbah lounge, the largest and most beautiful casino lounge in the world. To say the least we were very excited that she was coming to see our band. Joey and Louie were brothers and the main two front singers. It was obvious Jean was impressed, as soon as they hit the stage, Louie did his version of Just a Gigolo, moving his pelvic area, and shaking the way he does so well, Jean leaned over to Rosemarie and whispered in her ear, I want him, can you set it up, the casting coach in reverse. Roe told Louie, he said no problem.



butch's career as a gambler

· 1957 - bowled my first match for money, $50 - 3 game total - won - 13 yrs old

· 1957 - started playing various games of poker with my friends, loved it

· 1958 - pitched coins every day at school, enabled me to use cabs most of the time

· 1959 - became a bowling hustler - it supported me

· 1960 - started shooting street craps and going to the track - this was the life

· 1961 - was already learning how to cut my loses, and press a hot streak

· 1962 - joined the Air Force and used my gambling skills to stay in the money

. 1963 - was asked to leave the A.F. and resumed being a bowling hustler

· 1966 - made the mistake of getting married, quit gambling and stopped bowling

· 1970 - bought a cab so I could get back into the street life

· 1972 - started playing poker every night after work, made more than working the cab

· 1974 - would work the cab for only 3 or so hours and than go to a poker game

· 1976 - went back to being a bowling hustler, the money was once again flowing

· 1977 - quit bowling because the easy money stopped, went to the track everyday

· 1979 - started to run and cut a weekly poker game with my partner Paul

· 1980 - played in our own game as much as possible, won a lot of money

· 1981 - our game closed down, started going back to the track everyday

· 1982 - took up casino gambling, went to Atlantic City every week, 3 day stays

· 1983 - started booking bands in A.C., spent more time there gambling

· 1985 - resumed playing poker and going to the track

· 1990 - started teaching people how to be a winner when gambling

· 1995 - started to play a lot of poker in and around Atlantic City

· 1997 - started to gamble on the internet, blackjack and craps, earning a good living

2006 - Playing a lot of internet poker for the last few years, doing very well, life is great.






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