A TASTE OF MONEY

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The tale of a beloved teacher turned slot player

By Frank Scoblete

Who are the slot players and how do they play? Those are hard questions to answer. But here is my analogy:

Her name was Catherine Byznowski and she was a teacher at a well-known high school. She taught English and public speaking. The kids liked her. They could occasionally come to class late as long as they brought a candy bar for Ms. Byznowski.

You see, Ms. Byznowski was massively overweight. Probably close to four hundred pounds on a five-foot-two-inch frame. She had a great sense of humor about it. “My whole family has slightly more poundage than whole city blocks!” This was a time before the intrusive PC police made it wrong to admit that someone was weighing more than a whole New York City block.

She would come into school in the morning carrying two loaded shopping bags of her official food for the day. Her unofficial food could be found each morning in the various offices and teachers’ lounges throughout the building. She came to school early enough to be able to hit up just about each lounge and office for the goodies that would appear as if by magic every single day without fail.

Monday was the best day since weekend foods that had remained were brought in for the faculty and other staff members to enjoy.

The offices of the administration had cookies and cakes, some of them homemade by the secretaries. (Yes, those were the old days!) The language lounge had various foreign foods each and every day, and on holidays each language teacher would bring in a food from the country or countries the language of which that teacher taught. The science department had crummy food, as did the math department. Those two departments were almost all male in those days.

The worst food could be found in the home economics department. The teachers would lay out the horrors that their students had conjured the day before. There were actually days when Catherine wouldn’t bother her “nibbling” (that’s what she called it, “nibbling”) in that lounge. History was a decent department for food. The custodians’ office had great bagels and the best coffee in the school. She was one of the few teachers who nibbled in that office. The custodians loved Catherine, or Kate as some called her.

Every day, she would go to the English office first and deposit her bags in the huge industrial refrigerator sitting like some porcelain goddess in the corner of the office. The English office was known for its delicious homemade breads, particularly Irish bread, as most of the department had Irish blood in it. At least that’s what they all claimed.

On holidays Larry Quinn made Irish coffee, a really strong, liquor-sopped Irish coffee, for everyone to drink throughout the day. Catherine, who was Polish, enjoyed those days. In fact, she told everyone that she was part Irish, although no one believed her. And she knew no one believed her. But none of them had Irish blood in them and everyone knew that everyone was lying. It was a fun department.

Oh, yes, Catherine enjoyed a drink now and again, and, to be truthful, every night at home she had a couple to relax her. She would not, however, drink on Saturday or Sunday evenings because she was a disc jockey on a major New York City classical music station. Her radio name was Kate Byman. She worked at that station for three decades.

Her radio voice was beautiful; sultry, sexy, inviting, knowledgeable about music, and, yes fellows, probably knowledgeable about every- thing else. Men who listened to the station must have had fantasies about Kate. That voice! Oh, that voice.

I listened to the show most weekends, since it had a late start. Many of her students listened to the show as well. Kate Byman had a following.

Catherine also had a side business. She was fluent in Polish, and when Polish immigrants came to this country she would select which one she would house in order to teach him English and get him used to living in the United States. She was paid to do this by some nonprofit agency. She and her house guest would enjoy their time together in sundry ways. I never saw one of her roomies look unhappy. How could anyone be unhappy boarding with Kate Byman?

Catherine was able to truly enjoy herself and even have a good laugh at her own expense. During one public speaking class a student gave a talk about his skateboard. When the student finished, Catherine said she was going to try it and “propel my bulk into the wild, blue yonder.”

She took the skateboard and put her foot on it, pushed with her other foot as she had seen the student do during his talk, and…the entire building shook when she went flying and falling to the floor. Ba-boom! It took the four male gym teachers to lift her onto the stretcher. “I think that’s the end of my skateboarding career,” she laughed as she was wheeled down the hall.

Yes, Catherine Byznowski was a unique individual.

And when Atlantic City became a casino town she would go there on holidays to play the slots. She loved the slots.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

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