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Lois Zook Wauson

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Grandpa Loved to Gamble
By Lois Zook Wauson
Monday, July 13, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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I loved my grandpa. He smelled of snuff most of the time but that was okay. My aunts talk about what it was like then they were growing up during the late 1920's and '30s. Grandpa loved to gamble

Grandpa Loved to Gamble

Domino parlors were very popular back in the twenties and thirties in Texas. I think they still are in the small towns. My grandpa, Earl Goode, loved to play dominos. He also loved to play poker. Dominos was his “friendly game”, and poker was his “serious game”. My Aunt Fay was talking one night, at a family get together before a funeral, as they talked about their daddy “O how Daddy liked dominoes, but he like poker the best and how he loved to gamble!”
The years of the 1920’s were hard years for the Goode family. They were farmers, and they were constantly moving all over Texas living on a different farm, near a different town. But they were happy everywhere they went. That’s the way it was when you were in a big family. Even with the difficult times and tragic times, they still love to get together and talk about those times, and reminisce and laugh about them.
After the crash in 1929, things were really hard, with no money, failing banks, drought and people migrating all over America looking for work. You just packed up your family and took off looking for work.
As the rest of the family listened in on this interesting bit of family history, Clare, another sister, piped up, “Yeah, do you remember the time he won that farm in a poker game. It was when we were living in Coleman County?”
“Oh yes!” said Fay, her eyes lighting up, “I remember us all living there. That was the nicest house we ever lived in!”
Clare said, “I remember it had a pump outside the kitchen door for us to pump water in the house and that was the first time Mama had running water. It was so nice and the house was so big! Daddy won everything in that poker game, from the livestock to the farm equipment and all the crops. The crops were fixin’ to come in. There was room for all of us in that house!”
She went on, with a sudden sad look in her eyes, “But you know, we only got to live in that house for a month, ‘cause Daddy lost it in another poker game!”
Their mother hated gambling. Lavonia Goode was a devout faithful woman, and she always prayed that Earl would quit gambling. But she stuck by her man. She loved him.
The summer after they moved to Floresville, they loaded up the car, with the kids and a pile of feather mattresses in the car, and camped out on the way back to Coleman to pick cotton. There were seven of them that summer all piled into the roadster with the mattresses. They stayed one night in a little tourist court which was a treat for the kids.
After the kids had fallen asleep, Earl and Lavonia went up to the little store by the tourist court. There was a slot machine there, and Earl wanted to play one game. Lavonia wouldn’t go near the machine, but Earl kept insisting, and finally convinced her to go over and put a nickel in it. “Come on, Voney. Just one nickel! Just one!” he kept on begging her.
In order to appease him and get back to the cabin, she put in a nickel. A pile of nickels came tumbling out. She stood there with her mouth while Earl roared laughter. She had won over $3.00. That was a lot of money in those days. She got so excited she began to put the nickels back in dreaming of winning more. In less than 20 minutes she had lost all the money. She made a vow that night to never gamble again and tried to convince Earl to quit. He never did. The story has been passed down through several generations in the Goode family and everyone laughs as they tell it.
Earl Goode was the kindest man I ever knew. He was the only grandfather we ever knew. He would come to visit us on the farm and stay for weeks, after my grandmother died. That was during the ‘40’s. In the summer time he would lie in the dark on his little bed with the radio on, listening to the ballgame. It is one of my fondest memories of Grandpa. The Brooklyn Dodgers was his team. Even in the afternoons, with the heat so bad in the house, he never missed a game. Sometimes when he got a chance he would bet a nickel on the game with whoever would take him on.
He also loved beer. He kept a warm bottle of Lone Star Beer under his bed, and while listening to the ball game he would take it out and sip on it periodically. That beer would last all during the game. I guess he could dream of being at a game, cheering on his team, with a cold bottle of beer in his hand.
Sometimes I would slip in and lie down beside him, with the radio going, and listen to the game with him. I liked the smell of the snuff he kept under his lip, and even the smell of the warm beer, but mostly I liked the feel of his arms around me as we would laugh and listen to the game.


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