My mother had an honesty streak that occasionally shocked my father. They ran a tavern on the South Side of Chicago for 15 years, and once, my mother found a $100 bill lying on the floor. She held it up and called out over the din of conversation and the pool game, "Hey, did anybody lose this?"

Who should claim it, but Sam the Bookie? My dad just shook his head. "Alice," he said, "I can't believe you just gave money back to a bookie."

I don't know if all of you around here know what a bookie is, but back then, running book involved horse- and sports-betting, and was not a legal activity, so I guess it would be like handing $100 back to a marijuana dealer. Being a bookie may not have been an evil calling, per se, (though I don't know if it was healthy to be on the debtor side of Sam's ledger for too much or too long), but if Sam lost $100, he couldn't exactly report it to the police as missing, see?

To my mom, though, keeping it would have been wrong. Sam was a customer and he never conducted business on the premises (too many cops walked the beat in that neighborhood anyway).



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