Taking Numbers at the corner of 4th and Grove

My father had many stories about taking numbers — the illegal lottery — during the ’50s and ’60s down by the corner of 4th and Grove in Jersey City. (The Green Door tavern, Jean’s Luncheonette, Lou’s Barber Shop, the fruit and vegetable store — even the corner itself — all are long gone.)

One of the tales concerned sitting on milk crates on the sidewalk along with some other guys from the neighborhood, While my father was writing out a betting slip, a new car came to a sudden halt in the street in front. A well-dressed, husky young man got out and ran over to the group yelling “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE!”

Quickly standing up — and simultaneously flinging the pencil and paper off to the side — my father asked “Whad’ya mean?” He was puzzled for the visitor was not Jersey City Police — those all were one way or another well-known. Was he a Prosecutor? State? A Fed?

The stranger put his hand in his pocket, Everyone expected some sort of badge to emerge, No, in the wallet was just a driver’s license.

“I’m Harold Delmore of the Delmore Milk Company. Those are our crates that you’re using for benches. I want them back.”

As Mr, Delmore put his hand on one of the then wooden boxes, my father said “Hey! There’s a deposit on these! You gotta pay that first before you goes takin’ anytin’.

“Now confused, “I . . . uh . . . don’t have any money with me.”

“So? You came here lookin’ to cheat us out of the deposit? Get goin’ before I call a cop!”

Harold Delmore ran back to his car and never came back.

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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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