Occasionally, I will play cards with other prisoners on the compound. The card game is called “spades” and I learned the game at Jesup. It is a common card game among prisoners. I am very particular about who I play cards with. Certain prisoners get carried away with their emotions and create high risk situations. These are situations I avoid at all costs in prison. My spades partner Tim (Hedge Fund Guy) set up a game with two gentleman I did not know. He assured me that they were nice guys who played solely to laugh and pass some time. We sat down to play and I could immediately sense that they were upbeat, fun loving gentleman. As the game progressed, they started sharing stories about their past and their friends. Turns out, that Joe and Tony were affiliated with some folks that some might be described as “organized crime”. Joe explained how guys in their business all have nicknames. His nickname was Joe “Stein”. He acquired his nickname from some business associates who apparently were the front for some of his business operations. The business associates happened to be Jewish. Tony’s nickname was Tony the “butcher”. That made me very nervous! Turns out that Tony owned a meat packing plant which led to his street name.
They went on to talk about “Joey Bananas” (he was a banana importer) and “Cadillac Frank” ( He always drove black Cadillac’s). The funny thing is that Joe and Tony are from cities 1500 miles apart but they know allot of the same people?

Their stories coupled with their sarcastic delivery had me laughing so hard I was almost in tears. Tony shared with us his experiences at a tony prep school out East. (Boston). His father determined He needed a proper education and sent him to a nearby prep school. He was required to buy school clothes prior to the beginning of the school year. His father took him to the recommended store and He purchased Tony blue blazers, grey slacks and school ties. Afterwards, his father insisted they go see his tailor to get Tony a “proper suit”. Tony wore his “proper suit” to the first school dance. He stated He was the only kid there in a shiny brunt orange sharkskin suit with black half boots. (not very preppy). He told his father that He would never wear the suit again and his dad thought He was crazy.
He also said that his dad was the only father on the sidelines at his soccer matches who wore a black turtleneck and a long black leather coat. The other fathers were in brooks brothers suits and camelhair coats.

Finally, Tony related that He was the only kid at school who drove a Fleetwood Cadillac. (his fathers hand me down). The other kids had jeeps and bmw’s. Despite his differences, Tony enjoyed his time at prep school. His classmates embraced him because of his charm and outgoing personality. Tony and Joe provided one of the most entertaining evenings I have ever had in prison. I forgot where I was for an hour or two. I appreciated the humorous diversion!

Ken Flaska

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