Slots and Slugs
While working in the shop building machines Dad quickly became the resident expert on how to do things on a Davenport. One day one of the other older workers came to Dad and handed him a round disk just about the size of a quarter. He asked Dad if it was possible to cut off a piece flat like it on a Davenport. Dad said, “Sure, that’s easy.” So they gave him the bar stock centerless ground and Dad rapidly made up several thousand disks to their specs.
Well, the next week they invited Dad to go out with them to make the rounds of the local bars. At that time slot machines were legal in all the gin mills and the only coin that showed was the last one played. These guys proceeded to load slugs into these machines as fast as they could pull the handle, putting all the payoffs in their pocket and putting a real quarter in as the last play. They made the rounds that night and converted their slugs into real money. The next week they invited Dad to go along again. The very first bar they went in they started playing the slots and could see the bartender was very nervous, watching them closely.
Just as the bartender started around the bar to check up on them the machine paid off big with a bunch of the previous weeks slugs. Well Dad thought, “This is it!”. But the guy that was playing the machine grabbed a handful of slugs and said to the bartender in a loud voice, “What the hell kind of a place are you running here?” “Look at all these slugs.” The bartender apologized all over the place and said, “If I catch the guys that are doing this I’ll kill them, but I’ll make all of them slugs good.” They never did it again!
Hard as Nails
One day the carpenter that built the shipping crates for the machines came over to Dad and said, “Earl, you should see that big Swede bend nails with his bare hands. Now Dad, having grown up working with his hands, had the strongest grip I have ever seen. He said, “What kind of nails?” The carpenter gave him a nail and Dad bent it with ease. “Jeez Kris Earl, do that again”, he said. “That’s easy”, Said Earl. Well the carpenter then hatched a plan and said, “Let’s have some fun Earl.” He took some nails and put them in a cyanide hardening pot. Cyanide was used back then to case harden steel and would leave it clean and shiny but hard as glass. Then the carpenter went around making bets that the little guy in the assembly, all hundred and fifty pounds of him, could bend more nails than the Swede. The bets were placed and the guy gave the Swede one of the hardened nails which of course he couldn’t bend. Dad made it look easy and they all thought they lost the bet until Dad took the hard nail and put it in a vise. He hit it with a hammer and it did indeed shatter like glass. The laugh was on them.