Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 19, 2010

Marge and Larry

So, Larry turned over 100 last week, and I’m sitting with him this morning; him and his lovely wife of 62 years, Marge from Minnesota, a cute blond even at 92. He’s from Brooklyn and spent 70 years working as a bookmaker at about every race track in the country. His father was a bookmaker for “all of the big shots.” Larry was his father’s name, too. Larry’s grandfather-in-law, a fellow by the name of McCabe was a horse trainer in the early 20th Century. He worked for a couple of NY Irishmen, wholesale butchers, who made a lot of money racing horses.

Larry told me he was at Saratoga with his father one time when Tim Mara
and a fellow named Tom Shore were trying to decide what to do with their
money; whether to buy Gene Tunney’s contract or to start the New York
Giants football team.

I asked Larry when this was. “1924,” he answered.  That figures.  I have just
learned since doing a google on Tim Mara and his team that Mara founded the Giants in 1925.   They obviously went for football over boxing.

Larry told me that he used to get twenty or thirty tickets from Mara’s chief clerk for each game, and he and his friends would go up to the games from Coney Island to watch them.  He went to PS 153 on Coney Island Avenue, and paid a nickle for the ride on the subway.  The guys always met him by the school, mooching tickets.

“Gee,” he said, “I’m talking about stuff that happened fifty years ago.” “No,” I told him, after I had taken off my shoes and socks to do the counting, “You’re talking about stuff that happened 86 years ago.”

Marge is a nurse.  She graduated from a school in Minneapolis that is now a big deal hospital.  Larry was griping about being 100, useless and in a lot of pain.  He says, “I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself when I wake up at 4 in the morning.  I have to wake her up.  I wonder why God let’s me hang around.  ” Marge,” I said, “Do you mind Larry waking you up at 4 in the morning to help him to the bathroom.”

“No,” she says to me in her Lauren Bacall voice, “I don’t mind doing anything for him.”   She smiles, and I see a young girl’s smile and know why Larry traveled across the country in a car in 1946 to marry her.

He had to be back at Belmont the day after they were married, and paid some guy at the airport in Los Angeles where they were married twenty five dollars to get him and his bride on the first plane to New York City.  I try to figure how much that $25.00 is worth today.  Larry’s still mad at his boss back in 1946 who said, “I need you.”  “I wasn’t that important he couldn’t do without me for a couple of days,” he says.

I turn to Larry and tap him on the knee.  He looks at me, and I say, “That’s why God still has you around.  So that Marge can do something for you and show you how much both of them love you.”  I don’t add, “You ought to be grateful you old grump.”

Larry looks at me and turns to Marge.  “You know this guy better than I do,” he growls,  “Tell me who writes his material, will ya.”   Marge looks at him and doesn’t say a thing.  Then she looks at me and smiles.

We all ought to have a Marge in our lives…or be a Marge in someone else’s.


  1. made me smile…

    • You know what I mean, that’s why.


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