Back in December writer Richard Leck passed away in his sleep. Karen Lillis is organizing a memorial reading of his work at the Bowery Poetry Club. Saturday, May 9th. 2:00. GM contributor Brian Cogan will be among the readers. Update: read press release.
For those who've read the most recent issue, Richard contributed a piece called "You Could Make a Bet on a Street Corner As Easy As Buying a Newspaper." Those who've not can do so here. (Part one of three)
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You Could Make a Bet on a Street Corner as Easy as Buying a Newspaper
By Richard Leck with Karen Lillis
"News Boy" Moriarty was a Jersey City eccentric. In a town full of mobsters, he was not connected to any mob, he was his own operator. He got the name "News Boy" because he was always hanging around the newsstands in Jersey City: his game was taking numbers. He'd go all over the city taking bets on what the last three numbers of the daily take at the racetrack would be—this was a figure they published in the paper everyday, the day after. He walked up and down the block, knocking on doors, and the housewives all over would place bets with him. If you bet two dollars and you got the numbers right, News Boy would give you back two thousand.
News Boy Moriarty dressed to look like a working man, to avoid trouble. You could mistake him for a window washer or a clean-up man. He wore baggy workpants, so he could stuff all his dollars in the pant legs. Sometimes he might have five hundred singles in his pocket, but he didn't want to create suspicion, to have a bulge.
The bigger numbers games were run by the Italians, but News Boy was a crazy Irish loner—he ran his game alone, he'd been doing this for years. He had his routine, which included a fleet of old cars all over town. No matter where he was, he had the keys to a car nearby so he could make a getaway or stash his earnings in the trunk. He had about a half dozen of them, parked here and there—these were beat up cars that would have cost a couple hundred dollars at the time, the fifties.
Then one day, two painters were sent to paint an old wooden garage. Inside, they found a '47 Dodge sedan. In the trunk, they found a suitcase with two and a half million dollars—in small bills! That was an awful lot of money in those days. Well, the painters got nervous, so they took the suitcase to the police. The police tagged News Boy Moriarty for it, and News Boy went to jail. After about a year and a half, News Boy fell ill, and so they let him out for poor health. But News Boy still had money hidden all sorts of places around Jersey City—that was only one of his suitcases they'd found! He left town and bought his mother a mansion on the Jersey Shore.
News Boy's reign ended in ended in about the late sixties, early seventies.
To be continued.