The Saga of the Slot Machine and a Temptation

Uncle Leonard and the Slot Machine

This is a story that I wrote about 2 years ago and included in my book Stories to Warm Your Heart and Make You Smile. It was a hub under a different name and I have revised it some. A great story I heard for the first time when me and my mom visited on this Sunday afternoon, almost 2 years ago.

As I do almost every Sunday, weather permitting, I go to visit my sweet little mother who lives just a short drive away. Sometimes she likes to "get out of the cage" as she calls it and go for a drive. She lives alone and I suppose she does get lonesome and bored just reading or watching television and here of late she hasn't been able to get out to putter around in her flowers and rake leaves in her yard. She does have a long list of telephone friends who call her and keep her informed on all the local happenings, gossip and family news.

Mom has only two brothers living and on some Sundays, like today, she wanted me to drive her down to the Mountain Page community for a visit with her brother Leonard. Leonard retired from the NC Department of Transportation where he was a bridge repair supervisor and worked 40 years for the state. He lives on the old home place with his wife. Some of his grandchildren live on the same property where he my mom, and all our forebears have lived for over 100 years.

Today as I pulled into the dirt driveway and his house came into view, I could see he had been busy cutting and stacking wood. We had a recent ice storm and there are plenty of hardwoods on the ground and people gave him the wood to just clean up the brush. At any rate he has enough wood stacked around for years. We went inside and in just a few minutes he came inside, he had been helping one of his grandsons cut some wood that he had sold. We had a good visit and he told me the following story about a time when he was young.

During WWII he was just old enough to find work in town and had been hired for a job in the city of Saluda. He told me he made $1.25 for his work that day and had gotten hungry and decided to get himself a hot dog and a cola at a beer joint in town. He was not supposed to enter such establishments having been warned by my grandparents because of the alcohol served there and also they had one armed bandits. Gambling was frowned upon by my grandmother as much as drinking. Uncle Leonard told me that hot dogs were 15 cents and colas only five cents. He said he got him one and a cola and had a quarter in his pocket.

He had watched all the men of the town drink and spend all their money on that one armed bandit while he was enjoying his hot dog and not a one had won anything. He decided to put his quarter in and give it a try. He said he dropped that quarter and quickly pulled the handle. He said that instantly he hit the jackpot. He said the lady who was running the joint came over and told him he would have to give it all back since he was under age. Now my Uncle Leonard has always had grit in his craw and he told her emphatically and in no uncertain terms, "It was my quarter and I know I'm under age but that money is mine and I'm gonna keep it." With that said he pocketed the cash and went next door to the grocery store and bought some groceries. He was able to buy a sack of flour, 8 pounds of lard,some sugar, coffee and a lot of other items he felt were needed at home.

Uncle Leonard told me he had so many groceries that he had to stop on his way home several time to rest because the load he was carrying was heavy for a young boy to carry. When he finally did make it home, Grandma questioned him how he got all those groceries. When he told her how he had been able to buy the groceries, she told him she was going to give him a whipping for gambling and being in a beer joint. He told her he knew he was forbidden to go inside and to gamble but at least they had groceries now. No doubt Grandma knew he was only trying to do a good deed and forgave him with the stern admonishment, "If I ever hear tell of you being in there again, I'll skin the hide right off your back!"

My mom and her siblings came up during hard times and were poor. They were taught by my Grandmother Christian values and sometimes I think the Lord above just allows a few things into our lives at opportune times that will give us an advantage and bless us. Uncle Leonard true to his word to his mother never had a problem with drinking nor gambling that I ever know anything about and I am so happy he shared this never heard by story about an incident in his life.

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