The extended family of a significant Jersey City illegal numbers lottery figure like my uncle Gus enjoyed prosperity by association.

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The extended family of a significant Jersey City illegal numbers lottery figure like my uncle Gus enjoyed prosperity by association. Anyone out or work — or just experiencing a tight week — was welcome to bounce in for a substantial supper.

As Gus made his rounds about Jersey City, Little Italy and even the entire Metro area, he’d stop at bakeries and fruit stands and buy whatever caught his eye. This might mean boxes full of delectables. On the way home, he’d make visits to his circle and present the items as gifts. Whatever he brought to the house, he’d send the dinner guests home with — along with a big plate of leftovers so they’d have something to put in their fridge.

Before Christmas, everybody got two large babkas, one with cheese and one without, (I still remember the happy sight of those large light grey cardboard boxes.) and a container of chrusciki, the fried dough with powdered sugar Polish pastry.

And for those without any income, there also was cash to be had. Students and others of the extended unemployed were able to expect an annual call. Gus would have a winning horse race ticket — either his or some Syndicate associate similarly allergic to declaring with the IRS. The tickets were cashed in the name of the financially challenged who then received 10% of the take as a thank you.

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About Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established PETCRAFT.com in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa.
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