They told Pete of their friendship with me, and Pete sent back a book with the following inscription: “Don. Bingo Joe was the best. He owes me $100. Pete Rose, #4256.”
I figured the cat was out of the bag at that point.
Last year, I met Dad’s close friend, the legendary music professor Jim LaBarbara at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse in Cincinnati. Pete was there, too. Pete immediately said the same $100 line he wrote in the book.
Then he stopped for a second and said, “You know, it is probably the other way around.”
If there was any debt owed, it would have to be on Pete’s side. Dad never missed paying off a bet. If Dad had to borrow money from everyone in town, he did. Paying promptly is what keeps a bookie in business.
There are a lot of ways I thought about paying tribute to Dad on the 20th anniversary of his death, but I suspect giving the tip to John at Galatoires might have been the most fitting.
The lessons from a street-wise man had been passed down through the generations.
I can’t imagine a better tribute than that.
Don McNay is a columnist for the Richmond (Ky.) Register. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.