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My Alabama Shaw Family on My Father’s Side From 1861-2014

Granddaddy was a gambling man

Posted Sept 30, 2016

Annie Shaw-Barnes, Ph.D.
Author and Speaker
Cultural Anthropologist
Family Specialist
Family Education Specialist
Spousal Abuse Specialist
Christian Church Specialist
Racism Specialist

Hi everyone,

Granddaddy was a gambling man.

He gambled with cards, and my research into card playing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, indicated that he probably played a card game similar to poker. Granddaddy especially liked to gamble with wealthy whites and, in advance, they invited him to gamble in their homes. When he went to gambling games, his mind was set on winning. He made good on his aim and left each game with more money in his pockets than he carried.

Of all Granddaddy’s gambling games, with wealthy whites and his Colored friends, one stood out. At a gambling game with his Colored friends, Granddaddy won two of his friends’ money and clothing and one’s “bebedees” (one piece long johns that covered the man’s limbs and body), leaving his friend to go home naked. His friends looked at their naked gambling friend and made the decision that it was nonsense to make a grown man go home naked. As far as Granddaddy was concerned, if one made a decision, he was obligated to stand by it.

Granddaddy was as serious about gambling as he was about pulling bark, because money was his goal. So, if his friend decided to gamble on his bebedees, Granddaddy thought he ought to stand by his word.

Nevertheless, one of Granddaddy’s three friends, Mr. Jake Cooley, spoke decisively for the group. He said, “Adam, give Manly his clothes. He can’t go home naked. If you don’t give them to him, Mo, and I is gon’ beat you.”

“Jake, are you saying y’all will beat me over what I earned?”

Mo spoke up and said, “Yeah, Adam, that’s what we saying.”

Granddaddy thought for a moment. It just ain’t right for a man not to keep what he worked for and won.

There was a long pause.

Jake interrupted the silence. “Adam what are you going to do?”
Granddaddy was a sensible man and realized he was not a fighting and quarreling man. Hence, he would not ruin his reputation. Besides, he didn’t think he could beat three friends. Moreover, in his opinion, friends were not to be beaten, but respected. So, Granddaddy gave Manly his clothes.

As usual, Granddaddy and his three friends returned to the gambling table, as often as possible, and Granddaddy kept winning their money and enjoying their friendship and showed the way to bet and never get angry.

What a great lesson for winners and losers!

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