Orl~ando Denver and Jesse Hugo were Meyers brothers, born in the late 1800’s.
They were fondly nicknamed “Dude” and “Coot” by the four half sisters who
raised them. Dude was 4 years old and Coot was newborn when their mother died.
These little fellows were constant companions living on a farm in Lincoln
County. When Susie, Edie, Mayme and Rose went to their one room school, they
took the boys along when their father and older brother were busy in planting
Dude was O.D. Meyers, my Dad. Coot was my Uncle Jess, whom I knew by hearsay
and by one photograph. The studio picture in front of a backdrop showed eight
or nine young fellows, a group of “rounders.” All of them were “gussied
up” like gamblers. They wore derby hats at a cocky angle, white shirts, small
black ties with dark vests and pants -- no coats -- and each fellow held an
open beer bottle. They were teenagers making a statement; their smiling faces
suggesting rebellion. Dad and Uncle Jess had center spots on the front row.
Were they gamblers? Maybe. Some said that Coot could make dice obey his
commands and could deal cards with sleight of hand that was uncanny.
Dude and Coot felt that they were imposed upon -- working hard in the fields
for almost no pay. They were bitter about being slaves for their brother and
father. This problem was solved when the brother left the farm and their
father took Dude in as a partner. The younger Coot skipped out, heading West.
He became a mechanic, bought a garage in Yuma, Ariz., and began to market his
skill with dice and playing cards.
About 1930 he and his wife made a surprise trip to Missouri to see Dad. The
brothers talked late into the night, catching up after so many years apart.
Jess had sold the garage, moved to San Diego and was making big money working
in gambling houses just across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. He and Aunt
Gladys were fashionably dressed, driving a new car, s~pendin~g money freely.
We all truly enjoyed these “filthy rich” relatives.
He showed us a few tricks of his trade. He accurately predicted how the
rolling dice would land. He dealt from the top, bottom or middle of the card
deck and told us, as he shuffled the deck, who would get the good poker hand.
He put a pile of poker chips on the table and said, “Dude won this pile.” He
shoved the pile to Dad and we waited. Finally he opened his hands and revealed
the high value chips which he “palmed” and said, “I have to use an adhesive
when palming silver dollars.”
How different these brothers were! Mom and Dad, in apron and overalls, worked
long hours for little profit. Both families were successful and very happy.
Mom and Aunt Gladys arranged for a Sunday carry-in dinner at Aunt Mayme’s
home. The four half sisters and their families were there. Jess, the center of
attraction, told some stories, embarrassing the women who ~“m~othered” him
Did Uncle Jess keep the money he palmed? No. Did he gamble? Absolutely not~!
He was working for the house, employed to make money for the house. He felt
that he was making an honest living, marketing his skill for his employers.
“Fools and their money are soon parted,” Jess said. “It’s my job to help
them in the parting process.” Then he looked at my teenage brother and said,
“Don’t ever get the idea that you can get something for nothing. You can’t.