My father was a bootlegger turned slot machine operator. I suppose you would call him a racketeer but in a small town during that time slot machines and bootlegging were held the business of gentlemen, the same as farming, running a grocery store or fishing for a living. We'd take the ferry to Greenport a few days a week to service the slot machines. That was before I even began school. In those days children didn't go to kindergarten. By the time I entered the first grade I knew how to fix a slot machine to pay 60/40...60 to the house and 40 to the customer.


My mother, on the other hand, was a teacher. It was often said that there was no one that Nellie Thiele couldn't teach to read.


I have both those streaks in me. The racy adventurer, just this side of legit, or free and the scholar.

-Mary Ellen Rooney

No Longer a Gentleman's Business


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