either be dead of in jail before you reach 21.”
Before I get into my story let me make something perfectly clear. In all of my writings, people will think
I'm knocking Hopedale.
That’s the last thing I want to do. Thirty years of being on the road, I have spent time in hundreds of
small towns and just about every big city in the U.S.A. Hopedale is no worse and probably a little better
than most small towns. The lessons I learned as a boy and young man living in Hopedale (believe
me, I wouldn’t change one minute of that time for anything) I learned that you can’t live in a world of
“shoulda – coulda – woulda’s.” You have to live in a world of one minute, one hour, one day at a time
and try to squeeze 25 hours into every 24 hours you are breathing. If you don’t have a passion for life,
you’ll go through life existing, not living.
I am proud to be a charter member of Hopedale. Born at 121 Freedom Street (Seven Sisters) and not
the Milford Hospital.
Like most of my generation, I’ve wondered how many people are still around that have Hopedale as
their birth place on their birth certificate.
1946…The Gambling Years
I had won 40 K on the boat coming home from Germany. The average worker was making 1500 –
2000 dollars a year. The next three to four years all I did was gamble, drink and sleep. What’s better
than being 20 years old and having a beautiful car and a pocket full of money? There’s a saying used
by smart gamblers: “There’s nothing sweeter than money won.”
So I set off on my quest to become rich by gambling. Milford was a wide-open town after World War II
for gambling. Gambling joints were rated in those days by doors. If you walked into a gambling joint
through one door into a game that meant that joint was paying off the authorities and didn’t have to
worry about being raided. It also meant protection by police against robberies. A two-door joint meant
you went through one door into a room like a pool hall or candy store. Then there was another door,
usually steel or hard wood, to go through to get to a card or crap game. This joint did not have good
connections. Some of the places where I gambled were the Hearts of Ben Club, a few hundred feet
down from the Italian Catholic Church in the Plains section of Milford, Goochie's Tobacco Store on
Central Street, some of the old quarries that had buildings on them, and inside a trailer truck that was
parked on the side of the highway on Route 9 a couple of miles west of Framingham. There were
three or four places we frequented outside of Boston. They were nightclubs that closed business
around twelve or one. Games were run until seven or eight in the morning. Also there were several
plush homes in Providence and Worcester that had a lot of Greeks. In Worcester we played a new
Greek dice game called Barbouth. It only took a year and this game took off. It caught on and was
played all over New England. It put most of the crap games out of business. This is the game that I re-
invented several years ago and now hold a patent on in which I have been trying to promote into the
casinos for the last three years.
‘Goochie” owned a tobacco store on Central Street in Milford where we would gamble. He was an
Italian gentleman in the 30s or 40s. He had been in the service during WWII. The story goes that when
he went into the army and got down south to a training camp, he started running a crap game that
became very successful. He paid off the right people and spent the entire war at that camp. He came
home after the war ended, a very rich man. In the 1950s, I used to go with Goochie to the biggest
Barbouth game in New England. It was in a nightclub in Revere, north of Boston. After the club closed
they set up two pool tables in the middle of the dance floor and at two ends of the floor they and two
platforms about twelve feet high. All during the game, two men would sit on the platforms with
shotguns protecting the games. There were thousands of dollars in these games. In the winter of ’51,
one night at a game I was playing, the dealer was calling that there was 5000 open on the second
shooter. A guy approaching the table hollers, "I got it covered". The dealer looks at the guy and says,
“Okay, Tony.” The first shooter throws the dice and wins. Tony, who hasn’t even got his money out of
his pocket, has lost $5,000. Well, Tony pulled a roll of money out of his coat, all 100-dollar bills, counts
$5,000 and didn’t put a dent into the roll. I figured he lost about $20,000 in a couple of hours, and left.
Later, I was sitting at the bar having a sandwich and a cup of coffee. (I never drink booze when I
gamble.) I ask one of the local guys sitting next to me having a drink who the hell what that guy Tony?
He says, “That’s Tony Pino, the brains behind the Brinks robbery.” I’m thinking to myself, “This bum
looks like he couldn’t rob a kids piggy bank.”
September ’59…The Brinks robbery was labeled “the crime of the century by the FBI. Seven men walk
out of Brinks with 2 ½ million without so much as breaking someone’s fingernail. I saw Tony on
several occasions at the game and most of the time he had other guys with him. Several years later I
found out I was dead wrong about Tony and his buddies. The Boston Globe front page had seven
pictures of Tony Pino and his buddies. The headline read, “Brinks Robbers Caught.” (More on the
Brinks robbery at Wikipedia.)
By 1961, I was broke. Lost my car and had to get a job. Gambling was not the way to go. A strange
thing happened to me that changed my whole outlook on gambling. One frigid night after work (in
Drapers) I meet John Cyr and we would take our paycheck, take a bus to Milford. We would walk from
Main Street down to the Hearts of Ben to save the 35 cents taxi fare; about 1 ½ miles. John and I did
this for months. We’d lose our paychecks, save just enough to take a taxi home, broke. On one
particular night when we were walking down Main Street, a men’s clothing store was having a sale.
There is this beautiful suede leather jacket on sale. I said to John, “I want to go look at that jacket.” I’ll
remember the words that John said until the day I die. “What, are you nuts? Are you going to waste
money on a stupid jacket?” Didn’t buy the jacket, went to the Barbouth game, lost my money and went
Several hours later, laying in bed, no jacket, no money, the words John uttered earlier in the evening
came back and etched themselves into my brain. (Why are you going to waste all that money on a
stupid jacket?”) That night I made up my mind. I stopped gambling.
I eventually went back to gambling, but I taught myself to use self-control. All the years of being in the
trucking business because of the lessons I was taught by Mr. Sneiderman. (Hopedale’s junk man.)
I've always made a lot of money from what I call side deals. Deals like I made at Drapers when I
bought $80,000 dollars worth of emery cloth for $5.00 and sold it for $25,000. This was my gambling
money and investment.
1951…I got married to Concetta (Connie) Federico of Milford, had four great sons and 57 years later
we’re still married. At the time we were married, I was working for Hopedale Coal, driving the tanker in
the winter and for Rosenfeld’s Redimix in the summer.
1952…Connie and I moved to Los Angeles, California. That year we spent as much time in Las Vegas
as Los Angles. I guess when you’re born and lived in a small town, it’s tough to live in a big city where
people are cold and indifferent.
1952…We moved back to Milford.
1954…I went back to work for Hopedale Coal and Rosenfeld Redimix. We had our first son, Steven.
We were living in a three-room apartment and decided it was time to buy a house.
1957…We bought a small five-room bungalow at 116 Freedom Street, Hopedale. It was directly
across the street from where I was born, 121 Freedom Street, 28 years earlier. This was the time in
my life when I started doing a lot of serious thinking. After 28 years of living, here I was only 100 feet
away from where I was born. Most people live what is called a circle of comfort, and most people stay
in that circle their whole life. Most people’s circle is very small; some people’s circles are wider, and
very few people’s circle is large. The way I figured was if I wanted to make something out of myself, I
would have to get well outside my comfort circle. I still had memories of working for myself in Draper’s
dump at the age of 10, wheeling and dealing and making money.
All the people I lived with in Hopedale all labored under the same assumption. Working for Drapers for
that steady paycheck was the way to go. Sound and secure. No gamble and stay in that comfort zone.
John Cyr and I had been best friends for over 25 years. We got into a lot of trouble as kids and had a
few close calls as adults, after we got out of the Army in 1946. John and I got into a new trend that was
sweeping the country. Scuba diving. Nick Guido from Milford (His father owned Guido’s Café on Water
Street in Milford.) taught us the fundamentals of diving. A couple of years later our diving skills were
fine tuned by an ex-WWII Navyman from Beverly, Mass, who owned and operated New England Divers,
one of the first companies in the U.S. to sell scuba equipment.
For five or six years, John and I dove almost every Saturday and Sunday and on any holidays that
occurred during weekdays. I think we dove every quarry in New England. I believe there isn’t any body
of water within 100 miles of Hopedale that we didn’t get into at least once. We knew the Milford
quarries like the back of our hands. It was common belief that the quarries were full of automobiles.
There weren’t any in the fifties. They started to show up in the sixties. To get an auto into a quarry, the
road has to go right up to the quarry edge.
There were only two or three quarries where you could do that. In the fifties and sixties auto body parts
were hard to get. There was a big demand for fairly new car parts by body shops. Two or three shops
would get together and pay us good money as long as the body part was in good shape. About all the
cars in the quarries belonged to the insurance companies. New autos sold (Chevy and Ford) around
$1500 and up. We were selling the autos to body shops for $500 and up, depending on the condition.
I was buying them from the insurance companies for $1.00. How come so cheap? Thanks to Mr.
Sneiderman’s School of Business, I knew how to make a deal. We were the only ones retrieving cars
from quarries in New England. If they wanted to hire us to retrieve an auto for them, I charged so much
it wasn’t worth it to them to bring it up. Then I gave them my “offer they couldn’t refuse.” The auto
belonging to them was their responsibility and under water they could be a hazard. Some kid could
dive into the water and hit his head, or some kid could go swimming down and get entangled in the
auto. They could drown or get hurt. Insurance companies do not like the idea of getting sued. They
would have given the auto to us for nothing, but by law they couldn’t. They had to sell them, so they
sold them to us for $1.00.
Most of the cars were more than 40 feet under water. You had to be a well-trained swimmer or diver to
reach 40 feet down without an aqua-lung. The only insurance company I couldn’t con was Lloyds of
London. Today there is still a 1964 Cadillac that belongs to Lloyds of London sitting on the bottom.
That quarry was filled in when they built the industrial complex between Route 16 and Route 109.
(Newspaper articles - Removing cars from Milford quarries
John Cyr quit diving after five years and I continued to dive for another twelve. I gave diving lessons at
the Woonsocket YMCA, the Worcester YMCA and the Whitinsville pool. I taught a couple of young guys I
worked with to dive and we formed a small company retrieving autos out of the water. That is when we
hit the mother lode. We found a quarry in Quincy that was ten times bigger than the Milford quarry. It
was about the size of Hopedale Pond from the bathhouse to the dam at Freedom Street. It was around
90 feet deep and loaded with autos. We made an inventory list of what we could see. If my memory
serves me, there were over 80 autos in our list, and a lot more that we couldn’t see, because they
were under the ones we could see. This was the list we used to sell the autos. We did a lot of
underwater work including cutting fishing nets free from lobster boat propellers in Rockport, Mass.,
and retrieving lobster pots for lobstermen. We did a lot of search and recovery work around the Milford
area. One of the jobs I did for Drapers was in Hopedale Pond. They were getting a lot of fish into the
filter to the boiler room and it was causing a big problem. They had a six-foot diameter pipe about 90
feet long going from the dam to the center of the pond, and a screen at the end to keep fish and junk
from getting into it. It had been there for years and was pretty well rusted out. I did all the underwater
work removing the old pipe and screen and replacing it with a new pipe and screen.
One of the strangest jobs I did was when a guy from Milford hired me to find his false teeth. He had
been fishing on Louisa Lake and fell out of his boat. He couldn’t swim and almost drowned. He saved
himself by hanging onto the boat, but he lost his teeth. I found them the next day. Another satisfied
customer. . He was still alive and went home with his teeth in his mouth.
In the fifties there wasn’t much equipment available for divers such as underwater cameras. It took me
four months to build an underwater housing out of plexiglass for a 35-mm camera. I had plenty of help
from several engineers at Drapers. They gave me a 4x6 sheet for plexi that cost a lot of money, and cut
to the sizes that I needed. I smuggled them from Drapers and fused them into a camera housing at
home. There was no fast film in those days. I met a professional photographer from Medway and I
taught him how to dive and he taught me how to develop film. (Newpaper article on John's underwater
camera.) The only underwater movie pictures you saw in those days was Cousteau, who had a couple
of documentaries, and Mike Nelson of Sea Hunt, the kids hero on television. My friends from N.E,
Divers lent me a two-hour underwater documentary film, one of the first made for that length of time. I
had a showing at the Hopedale Town Hall and got quite a turnout. I was a guest speaker on several
occasions. The one I’ll never forget is the night I spent with a bunch of Cub Scouts from Hopedale.
Russell Dennett, my neighbor, asked me to speak to the scouts. I got the gym at the Community
House, set up a display of all the diving equipment. There were about 30 kids who attended. It started
at 6:30 p.m. They filed past the display by 7 p.m. Then we started a question and answer period. The
questions these kids asked me blew my mind. (I had spoken to several older groups that didn’t have
half the knowledge that these young kids had on diving.) At 10 p.m. they were still asking when
Russell Dennett came up and told me I had to knock it off because these kids had to go to school the
In the years of diving I only had three or four close calls. Once in Haskell’s Quarry in Milford, I went
diving a couple of days after getting a cold. I started to descend, got to twelve feet and had to stop
because of the pain in my head and ears. (The pressure on your body doubles when diving, from 15
pounds per square inch to 30 lb./psi at 15 feet.) I had to come back up to ten feet, and then I got back
down to 15 feet and then back up to 12. I worked my way to the bottom of the quarry at 80 feet. I figured
my sinuses were clogged and this would clear them out. John Cyr was with me and he gave a signal
to go to the top. I followed him up and when we got to 15 feet he kept going but I had to stop because
me head felt like it was going to explode. When I went back down to 20 feet I was okay. I did this
several times with no luck. I was stuck at 20 feet. I stayed there for five minutes, but still the same
problem. I had two choices; stay there and run out of air or go straight to the top. I had to gamble.
I dropped my weight belt and started for the surface as fast as I could, not breathing, but exhaling.
When I got to 12 feet I heard an explosion in my head. The pressure was gone, but when I got to the
surface I was completely blind. I tore off my mask and threw it up on the rocks. I thought my eyeball
had blown out of my head.
In a few minutes my eyesight started to come back. When I climbed out of the water and looked at my
mask I saw the problem. My mask was full of blood and mucus. That’s why I couldn’t see. I had a
bloody nose for a few minutes, but no ruptured eardrums or other problem. I had learned not to dive
right after a cold.
My other close call was in Lincoln, Rhode Island. John and I had found a small safe. The door had
been ripped off, but there was a small cash safe welded inside. We hauled it out of the water and
decided to cut the cash box out with a hammer and chisel. I was pounding away when I heard two car
doors slam shut. I turned to look and saw two Rhode Island state troopers standing behind us, guns
pointed at our heads and screaming at us to drop the hammer and get on our bellies.
I think both John and I wet our wetsuits that day. The trooper called the Hopedale police and everything
was okay. They took the safe and a couple of days later they got it open and there was nothing inside.
A year later we got a call from the State Police at Lincoln, R.I., asking for our help. We met the same
two troopers at the quarry. Kids had spotted a Caddy about 30 feet down. The state police thought it
had belonged to a bookie from Providence who was missing. We took the license plate off of the car,
checked inside and used the same hammer and chisel that we had used a year earlier on the safe.
We punched out the lock on the trunk and opened it, looking for the bookie’s body. No body. About
three months later we were told that they found him hiding out in Florida. It seems he owed the Mafia a
lot of money and decided to get lost.
In the mid-fifties, my second son, Scott, was born. I was still working for Hopedale Coal & Ice, driving
their tanker. The fellow who owned the two tankers drove one and I drove the other. His name was Joe
Silva. Joe had promised me that I could buy him out in a couple of years. After five years of broken
promises by Joe, I quit and went to work for a company out in Detroit. I worked there for about a year
and a half. The economy was bad, the company closed its doors and I was out of a job.
In 1960 we had our third son, Lee. Scott came down with pneumonia. I had also lost my house to the
Greenleaf Finance Company in Milford. I made a deal with Greenleaf and was renting the house. I had
no health insurance.
I had gotten a job with a new long-distance trucking company in Boston. They were in the process of
buying a fleet of trucks. I would have to wait a couple of months before they had a truck for me to drive. I
happened to run across the VA in Milford and explained my problem with Milford Hospital. I owed them
money before Scott would be accepted into the hospital for his pneumonia. The VA representative told
me the VA would help, but I would have to talk to the Hopedale VA agent. He flatly refused to help. I had
worked for Drapers three times since I got out of the service; the first time for a year, the second time,
a month, and the third time, one week. The VA rep said, “If you don’t take the job in Drapers, NO HELP.”
He set up an appointment for me for 8 the next morning with VP, the employment person for Drapers,
who was also a Hopedale selectman. The next day I put on a suit and tie and went for my
appointment. Mr. P made me sit in his outer office until 11:30 on purpose before he saw me. He
offered me a choice of two jobs. After he explained them, I picked one. I thanked him and got up to
leave. As I left, his exact words to me were, “Do you think you can be here for 8 a.m. tomorrow with
some working clothes on?” – Very sarcastically.
I turned and looked him straight in the eyes and replied, “I’ll go to Milford right now and buy some
working clothes,” and walked out.
VP was probably regarded by most Hopedalers as a nice person. Of all Draper and town officials I had
contact with, he was the last guy on earth that I would want to be in a foxhole in combat with.
I had been working in Drapers less than a year when I made my emery cloth deal where I bought
$80,000 worth for $5.00. (They were going to throw it away.) I made $25,000 selling it.
My second year in Drapers. They had a contest that was going to last one year. It was for new ideas on
how the company could save money. First prize was a new car worth $2,500, second prize was a
pickup truck worth $2,000 and third prize, a boat and trailer worth $1,500, and also the cash value of
savings. From my past experience in trucking, I saw many ways the company was wasting money in
their shipping room. I wrote up a detailed suggestion on one item they shipped a lot of. All entries into
the contest were supposed to be notified in writing if their suggestion wasn’t in the top five, and
therefore you got a $25 war bond. Winning was based on how much money your idea saved the
company over one year. The contest ended and two months later the three big winners were
The first winner got the car and $3,500, the second got the pickup and $1,900 and the third got the
boat, trailer and $1,200.
A year later I still hadn’t bee notified as to where my suggestion stood. I went to VP’s office and
questioned him about it. He was a member of the board that picked the winner. He told me that he
knew nothing in regards to my suggestion. He said he’s check into it. A year later I hadn’t heard from
him. Finally I went and saw Tim West, the son of the president of Draper. This was about six months
after the steel workers lost the election to get into the plant. Tim called the engineers and got one of
them to bring the file on my suggestion to his office. The report showed the idea had been thoroughly
examined and tested. The engineers recommended using it. Tim asked the engineer why it wasn’t
being used. The engineer went to the last page of the report and there was a note – Shelve for future
use. No name was signed. Tim was livid. He told the engineer to get the system implemented
immediately. He told me it would take a couple of days to get the accountants to figure out how much
money this idea would save and what my payoff would be. A couple of days later I was summoned to
Tim’s office. He handed me a check for $2,400. I then proceeded to explain to him that my suggestion
had been an entry in the one-year contest. With a $2,400 payoff I should have won the second prize,
the pickup truck. Tim agreed and said he would talk to the people in charge of the contest. I told him to
forget it. I knew he had stuck his neck out a mile to help me and I really appreciated what he had done.
I learned as a kid that when you have a friend who helps you, you don’t have the right to ask them to
jump off a 100-foot cliff with you.
A year later, Sam Shea of Milford and I put together a trucking deal. He was a big shot in the trucking
business, and I had knowledge of Draper shipping 17 to 20 loads of castings a week to their plant in
Spartanburg, SC. We met with Tim West at his home and he had two accountants look at our deal and
the numbers. After a three-hour meeting they all agreed that what we had proposed was doable and
that we would save Draper over a million dollars a year. Four weeks later Tim called me. I went to his
house and he gave me the bad news. NO DEAL. Tim told me that he went snooping around in the
shipping department. It just happened that the shipping department was run by a Draper crony named
Ballou. Mr. Ballou went to company president Tom West and cried like a baby that Tim was sticking
his nose into his territory. Tim was told to butt out and stick tohis own department.
Drapers had a great product, and for years made a lot of money, even though the whole corporation
was loaded with cronyism. However, in the fifties and sixties the patent laws changed and they got
some competition. After that they didn’t last too long.
In 1966, I bought a new ranch house in Millville. I was driving for Chemical Leaman Tank, hauling
chemicals all over the country. In 1970, I bought a tractor and went to work with CLTL as an
In 1972, my fourth son, Jay, was born. We lived in Millville until 1978.
We moved to Clinton, Connecticut in 1972. I had a house built where Connie and I still live today. CLTL
had a terminal in Branford, Connecticut which made it easier for me and my business driving truck. My
home is situated between New London and New Haven. If you travel on I-95 to New York or
Washington you go by my front door a mile north of Exit 63.
By 1984, the chemical haulers were having a lot of problems with shoddy work being done on the
chemical tanks by small and large companies in the repair business. They didn’t have a clue of what
they were doing. Tanker accidents were at an all-time high. The government passed a bunch of laws
and completely changed the way chemical haulers were to do business. Now to be able to work on
tankers, you had to get licensed by the government. All mechanics had to be licensed and had to have
three years experience and pass a test on their welding skills.
The government was clamping down on the chemical business. There wasn’t a company in
Connecticut that could qualify for a license, none in Rhode Island and none in Vermont. There was
only one small company in New Hampshire and Maine and one in Massachusetts, who were friends
of mine. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this would be a great business to get
In 1985 I sat down for two months and wrote up a business plan. My son, Scott, had been working for
D.J. King, the biggest tank hauling company in Connecticut, as a tank mechanic. He already had four
years of experience as a mechanic and was an excellent welder. I sent him to school nights for a year
to learn the technology end of welding. My son Steven and I made up a list of all the tools and
equipment we would need. We were looking at about $150,000. Our plan was to put up about $30,000
or our money for equipment and borrow $25,000 for three months operation expense. All three of us
were still working at our jobs. Steve and I spent the next three or four months going to auctions every
weekend all over New England.
By the end of four months we had purchased just about all the equipment we needed, and by going to
auction, instead of spending $150,000 we spent only $35,000. In the interim I had been looking for a
building and found one in No. Branford, Connecticut. It was 10,000 square feet. We spent the every
night and weekend for the next three months revamping it to meet our needs. Steven had gone to
trade school and was an electrician. He did all the electrical work and saved us thousands of dollars.
Scott did all the plumbing and carpentry work. By June of ’85, all the work was done. Scott finished
night school and we were ready. On July 1, 1985 we opened our doors for business. Without Steven
and Scott I would never have gotten the business off the ground. These two guys at the ages of 14 and
15 had been building their own dirt bikes and racing them. Both were quick studies. Show them once
and they could do anything from cooking a meal to baking a pie, sewing, rebuilding a house, repairing
a car body or rebuilding an engine.
Several months after we opened, we applied for our government license and got it. We were on our
At Connecticut Tank/Trailer Repair, Inc. Steven and Scott handled all the shop work from inspecting
tanks to rebuilding them from the ground up. My wife, Connie, was our bookkeeper and office
manager. My job was buying and selling tankers and taking people to court to collect money. In the
tank business there are no cheap jobs. Most of the work ran into the thousands of dollars. In eight
years we were grossing a million a year with between seven and ten employees.
In 1994, my son Scott got sick and ten months later he died of cancer. A few months later we hired a
young man to replace him, Mike XXX. Mike was smart, hard working and eager to learn. He was with
us for eleven months. One morning he was testing a tank for leaks by pressurizing it. He was on top of
the tank when a dome cover blew him through the roof of the building, killing him instantly. OSHA
investigated the accident for two weeks. It was also investigated by two engineers from two different
insurance companies. They all came to the same conclusion. No negligence on our part. After two
months of investigation, it was declared and accident – cause unknown.
While tanker repair is a high-risk business, in the fifteen years that we were in business we did
thousands of jobs and never had one tank come back because of poor work.
In the early nineties, Steven was racing a late model race car at Waterford, Connecticut. Several of our
employees and I were his pit crew. One night at a race I got into an argument with Seven and the rest
of the crew about driving style Remember, I had been driving tankers all over the country for 35 years. I
figure I had driven around four million miles. Most people never get to a million. In the argument I told
them I’d seen chimpanzees drive a car in a circle. They got so upset that they took a Ford Mustang and
built a racecar for me to race. At the age of 66, without one lap of experience driving a racecar on a
quarter-mile oval track, I had by debut. It was a 50-lap race. Twenty-five is the norm. I got eight laps of
practice before the race started. I started 50th, ran 48 laps, got put into the wall and finished 18th. Not
bad for a 66 year old racing with 18 to 22 year old kids. Speeds reached on that size track is about 90
on the straightaway and 50 in the corners. The way Saturday night short track racing goes – the
Mustang division, maybe 36 cars show up to race. They will run 3 qualifying races, with 12 cars in
each qualifying race. The first 8 cars in each qualifying race will race in the feature race (24 cars). The
cars that finish 9th thru 12th in the 3 qualifying races will not race that day, (they go home).
I raced for five years.. My goal was to keep racing until I missed getting into the feature race two weeks
in a row, by not qualifying. That finally happened when I was 71. (1998) In the years that I raced, I won
quite a few qualifying races, but never won a feature race. One of the reasons was because to the way
they started you in a feature race. If you didn’t race every weekend, which I didn’t, they started you in the
back. Starting 24th or 25th in a twenty lap race makes it pretty tough to win. They way I look at it, every
race I ran for those five years, I was a winner regardless of where I finished.
In 2000, Steven wanted out of the business so he could try something on his own. On December 31,
2000, I shut down Connecticut Tank and retired at the age of 75. It was the second thing in my life I
regretted doing. The first was quitting school in the eighth grade. Fifteen years in a business handling
a million a year, never stiffing anyone for even $1.00, Connecticut Tank and the Cembruch name had a
five star rating with the banks and with other vendors. We did business with people all over the
country. So I closed the doors with a lot of mixed emotions, but with a lot of pride. We left the game
with a sense of dignity.
(“Mr. Sneiderman, how do you think I did?” )
January 15, 2001…retired two weeks and it stinks! I’ve counted all the blades of grass on my one acre
lot. Now what do I do? Haven’t retired from gambling. For the last fifteen years I wondered why
Barbouth I used to play in the forties through the seventies wasn’t played in any casino. Barbouth is a
parlor game, and the way you bet your money is okay amongst friends, but would never work in a
casino because you’re betting strangers.
I spent the next two years revamping the betting system, making the game compatible to casino play. I
went to Pete Petterson, a patent attorney in New Haven. He read over my claims and the changes I
make to the game. He told me it would be a tough sell to the patent office because the game is in the
public domain. Public domain means that the public has been using it for thousands of years, so it
belongs to the people. You have to make enough changes to something in the public domain so that
the changes make it appear to be different. A very tough sell and a big gamble. So I gambled the
$15,000 to try for a patent. Working with the patent attorney, we came up with 23 claims on my game
patent. Most games that get patents have only seven or eight claims. The more claims you have, the
better chance you have to get a patent and the more protection you have if your patent is issued. The
attorney advised me that the patent office had been inundated with patents for approximately the
previous four or five years and it would take around two years to get one, provided that they believed
we had made enough changes. We were both shocked when I received my patent for my new dice
game. I call it “American Bar*Boot.” It took only ten months. For the last three years I’ve been
promoting this game to the casinos. Today, at the age of 81, I am in my never give up mode.
A couple of months ago, Mr. Sneiderman’s lessons came back to me, and that was, “If something isn't
working, Finagle the Bagel.” In my minds eye, I can read tomorrow’s papers: “81-year old man signs
deal for casinos for millions for licensing of new dice game, American Bar*Bout.”
The words you have just read are just a brief summary of my life’s story. I could have written hundreds
of pages of things that happened to that kid from Hopedale who has an insatiable pride in himself and
life, and has always lived his life with passion, someone an old gambler would call…A STAND UP
GUY. Someone who at 81 looks at himself in a mirror every morning to shave, with only two regrets in
his lifetime…retiring at 75 and quitting school at 16.
THIS IS NOT THE END!!!
John Cembruch, Part 1 Part 2 Memories Menu HOME
John Cembruch - Gambling Days
Sands Casino - Las Vegas
|The Rest of the Story