A Journey into Civil Rights and Politics
- By the White Guy from the Suburbs that Helped Elect the First Black Big-City Mayor

A MEMOIR by B. Kenneth McGee
A lifetime spent addicted to booze, fast horses and long-shot politicians.

Excerpt from   Eyes Shut Tight

Fast horses...

But the real trouble came with the advent of the bookies into my life. After all, you could only lose what was in our pocket in those days. Credit cards were not a way of life. With the outsider's view of my life style, it was easy to get credit at the bookies. Now there are people who love to gamble and they do it a lot, but there is also the compulsive gambler. For this kind of gambler there is never a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For this type of gambler, there is no half-life in the joy of winning a wager as there is no joy until the placing of the next bet. For this type of gambler, the satisfaction of winning is like a mirage, it is always that spot of water two miles up the road. There is no happy ending no matter how big the winning bet. It is only the beginning of the next bet. For this kind of gambler, ten thousand dollars in the pocket does not represent new clothes for the shabby ones he is wearing, it is not for the children at home that need clothes, it is not help for the wife in the things that she needs. It is the ante for the next big bet, the next big win, for the next big high, which is the betting and the waiting, not in the winning.

You can recognize this type of gambler. He is the one that approaches you outside of a casino, he is red eyed, jumpy, and talks a little faster than he should. He is in a hurry. "Have you got some extra change, maybe a buck," and if you look affluent or maybe like a winner that day, "maybe a couple a dollars?" He knows we gamblers are superstitious. You and he know that the change, the dollar, or maybe the "couple a bucks" is not going to go for the cup of coffee, the bowl of soup, or the pint of sherry, that "bottle gangs" work to get. You and he know what it is for. The dollar might go for four pulls on the quarter machine, two pulls of the handle on the fifty-cent machine, but more likely one pull on the dollar machine. That's what it's all about. The ultimate risk. The highest roll. Maybe the dollar will bring eighteen, maybe it will bring 30 (and a new start) or MAYBE the jackpot (10,000 to one against this) but it happens, or, you might have heard of it happening. In any of these scenarios, you will no doubt see him again late that afternoon, or earlier, at the same spot, same look, same talk, and the same result. You will ante up again. No admonishments will be given. You are soul mates with the same psyche but with a different cash flow. Besides, maybe it will give you luck.

You see this type of gambler at the race truck, but you may not recognize he or she at first if you are not a regular attendee. You will see them after several races have run. You will not know at first what they are doing. In fact, they are picking up old tickets by the handful and scurrying off. They are looking for tickets that have been thrown away by mistake and might be a winner. Almost impossible, but they stoop and look, stoop and look. On the other hand, each stoop is a gamble. Go figure. Later, you will see some of them with their thumb out on the highway, trying to get a lift home, or wherever.

You can recognize this kind of gambler at the roulette table when you see him put every chip he has on one number. Not three numbers. Not two numbers. He puts it all on one number and the wheel spins. "The horses are at the post."

A miracle happens and the number hits. He exclaims, "YES" and pumps his fist into the air. At 37-1`odds and a 35-1 payoff the croupier shoves so many chips over to him that you couldn't possibly count them. There is enough money here to pay off the hotel bill, eat at the gourmet restaurant, treat yourself to all the pleasures that Vegas has to offer, go home in the morning, pay off the mortgage, and return many more times in the future. Roulette is the worst game in the house for odds. There is no way in the end to beat it. You have to hit big, if you can, and walk away. If you return to this table three hours later, you will see this gambler still there. He will be down to his last five chips. He will not put them on three numbers. He will not put them on two numbers. He will put them on one number. He will lose and walk away.

For this type of gambler, a compulsive gambler, there is never a winning day. He is a compulsive gambler, compulsive loser, and the eventual outcome is as sure as Russian Roulette or as sure as a little boy riding down a hill with his eyes closed to see how much nerve he has.


Fast Horses Expensive Booze Longshot Politicians In the South

Eyes Shut Tight © by Ken Mcgee



Page ONE Interviews Ken McGee

Campaigning in the South...

McGee on OBAMA ...

Fast Horses...
Expensive Booze...
Longshot Politicians...

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