Up to No Good with WG©Averyell A. KesslerSaturday reprise – This is the first story I wrote about my grandfather.When I was eight, going on nine, my grandfather, WG Avery, taught me how to shoot craps. The lesson occurred in his office a few weeks before I entered the third grade. I was already an expert at Parcheesi and Chinese Checkers so when he opened his desk drawer and lifted out a pair of shiny red dice, I was entranced. A new game!“Where’s the board?” I asked.“You don’t need a game board for this,” he said. My eyes widened. This was not Candy Land or Shoots and Ladders. “Close the door,” he ordered.At that time, WG’s office was in an old worn out house at the corner of Mitchell and Northwest Street, and so close to the railroad tracks that the building shuddered when freight trains clacked into town or the City of New Orleans roared by. The windows were coated with a fine patina of dust and cigar smoke. The floors boards groaned when the front door squeaked open and the walls were infused with the faint aroma of motor oil. But this was his territory, his home, the make or break center of his business. For some obscure reason, Mama dropped me off to stay with him while she ran a few errands. We were best buddies. What could possibly go wrong?“OK,” he began. “You shake the dice hard and toss’em on the desk. If you get 7 or 11, you win. If you get 2,3, or 12, you lose.“What about the other numbers,” I asked.“We’ll get to that in a minute,” he replied. “Let me show you.” He rolled the dice back and forth between his hands, tossed them onto his desk, and shouted, “Gimme a big red, come on big red.” A pair of 6’s landed on top of a copy of the Wallstreet Journal.“Boxcars, dadgummit,” he said.It didn’t matter; we kept going. We played until Mama returned. By this time, I knew the important terminology, “bones, snake eyes, and crapping out.”When Mama discovered my new game ad it’s singular vocabulary, she was horrified. A second lesson occurred in the car on the way home. I would not tell my father, my teachers, or anyone at Sunday School. I would not explain this game to my friends or sneak dice out of the Monopoly box. I would not peek into the secret gambling room at the Jackson Country Club.“But it was so easy,” I exclaimed. “And I won.”“Sometimes, your grandfather teaches you things he shouldn’t,” she said. “Craps is a bad word. Don’t say it again.”She failed to mention that he taught her how to smoke a cigar in the basement of their home in Detroit, Michigan. She was ten.WG wasn’t a total ne’er-do-well. Just an interesting man from another era. He taught me important lessons too, “Don’t follow the mob, work hard, most politicians are weasels and pole cats, and you can do anything you want to do (an important lesson for a female child in the 1950’s). He also taught me craps. So, don’t take me on in a game!When WG was approaching 90, he taught my sons how to shoot craps also. They were 6 and 8. I never said a word.Update for next week – I’ll be posting a reprise story on Thanksgiving Day. I’m the family pie maker and there won’t be much time for writing. I’m also in charge of cornbread dressing and roasting ducks with a recipe from Mulate’s in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Have a happy, festive, and thankful day.

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