Every night in my childhood home, the ritual was the same. We would wait, nervously, for the phone to ring. My mother would pick it up and hear the news: that day’s combination of winning three-digit numbers, which told her whether any of her customers had been lucky. And if any of them had, she would have to pay out their winnings — at a rate of 500 to 1.
This was Detroit in the 1960s and ’70s and my mother, Fannie Davis, was a high-ranking numbers runner — a bookie and a “banker” who collected bets and paid off wins for the underground lottery business that everyone I knew called “the numbers.”
The game was simple: People called a bookie, put a bet on one or more three-digit numbers, and each day except Sunday “the house” — major numbers bosses — announced the winners, which were based on racetrack results. Individual bankers like my mother had to pay out to anyone who “hit,” or won. In all the years that I watched my mother play and run the numbers, I was never tempted to bet. But I did learn how to gamble.
Her vocation was illegal, so we had to keep it hush-hush. I was not allowed to invite friends over after school because afternoon was prime time for Mama to take customers’ bets. Her customers came to place their bets but also to visit for a while and discuss the latest news. My favorite was when a visitor would recount a dream and my mother would look up what it played for in her dream book, the numbers player’s bible. These encyclopedic reference guides assigned three-digit numbers to all manner of images and experiences, and they helped customers decide which numbers to play.
Whenever anyone other than a customer showed up at our home unannounced, my job was to shove the numbers paraphernalia (notebooks, adding machines, payout sheets) into drawers; when people asked me what my mother did for a living, I said she was “in real estate.” That lie was hard for me to tell because I was so proud of my mother. What I really wanted to do was brag about her distinction as one of the few female bankers in Detroit.
I understood from a young age that the threat of exposure was real. Seizures of gambling operations took place often. But so was the threat of Mama “getting hit hard” — having to make a large payout. Both could lead to the loss of our middle-class status, what I’ve come to understand as our blue-collar black-bourgeois lives.
My mother’s work provided us with a spacious Colonial brick home in a lovely West Side neighborhood, beautiful clothes and a quality education. I could not imagine life without those privileges, and while my older siblings could imagine it — they remembered what it was like before our mother’s success — they didn’t want to.
My mother often told me, “I’m doing this so you don’t have to.” My only job was to take advantage of every opportunity she and her numbers running made possible.
She distinguished between what she called “foolish, throw your life away” gambling and the smart kind. She taught me that a gamble ought not to be reckless. It ought to be calculated, but not avoided altogether. The bigger the risk, the bigger your purpose needs to be.
My mother grew up in Nashville and migrated to Michigan in 1955 with my father and my three oldest siblings. In 1958, she found herself plunged into poverty, with four young children and an ailing husband. So she started her own numbers business. She knew that a lot of people around her liked to play this lottery and that she had a facility with figures and a reliable nature.
The chance to support her family, to be self-reliant, was absolutely worth the gamble. And it paid off. For 34 years, until her death, my mother ran her lottery business well, transforming a way to support her family into a thing of joy and possibility.
Shame was not part of the equation. My mother understood well the difference between a legitimate endeavor and an illegal one. She came of age amid all kinds of laws designed to deny both her humanity and her constitutional rights. When she started her numbers business, it was legal in parts of the country, and the practice in many others, to deny blacks home loans, to deter African-Americans from voting, and to deny black men like my father jobs because of the color of their skin.
While racetrack gambling and Catholic church bingo nights were legal, informal lottery betting — a practice created by and largely practiced by African-Americans — was illegal. None of this hypocrisy was lost on my mother. “We already know that when white folks want to do something bad enough,” she said, “they can just create a law to get away with it.”
Conversely, my mother knew that being a “law-abiding citizen” as a black American was no guarantee of your safety, that all you could depend on in this society was your own moral compass. This was what enabled her to be in an unregulated gambling business and hold onto her integrity. She was a woman of her word. She was loyal to her customers. She paid on time. As she would say, “You don’t need a law to tell you right from wrong.”
When customers came to the house to pick up their winnings, I’d often overhear them talk about what they planned to do with the extra money: “I tell you, Fannie, this came right on time. I’m going to get my mink coat out of the layaway!” Or “Now I can take that road trip down south and go to my family reunion in style!” Or “Honey, I can send my youngest girl a little piece of change to help her out at school.”
And even when a customer hit big, my mother paid up. It often meant she’d have to build up her cash reserve again after the payout, but she understood how a windfall could change the trajectory of a life because it had happened to her. When I was 7 months old, she played three digits of her home address, 7-8-8, and hit big, using her winnings to put a down payment on our family home.
Today, I gamble regularly — I buy lottery tickets. Depending on my inspiration, I play different three-digit combinations. But I always make sure I play my home address: 675. And in the “Red Devil Dream Book” under “Ladies’ Names,” “Fannie” is listed as playing for 6-7-5.
I often think about what my mother would say if she could see me buying my daily lottery tickets. Or what she would say about the other ways I gamble every day, pursuing big dreams and betting against odds. I want to believe she’d approve, because she taught me that there is no alternative. Life is risk.
Bridgett M. Davis (@bridgettmdavis) is the author of “The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers.”
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刘伯温六“【老】【婆】【大】【人】！【手】【下】【留】【情】！【青】【了】！【青】【了】！”【夏】【白】【嗷】【嗷】【的】【叫】【着】。 “【给】【老】【娘】【记】【住】！【老】【娘】【永】【远】【是】【正】【宫】~” “【是】【是】【是】~”【夏】【白】【点】【头】【哈】【腰】【的】【伺】【候】【着】【总】【算】【是】【妥】【过】【了】【一】【劫】：“【对】【了】！”【夏】【白】【忽】【然】【想】【起】【什】【么】【东】【西】：“【吉】【尔】【呢】！” “【额】……”【苏】【茜】【脸】【色】【一】【僵】【哭】【丧】【着】【脸】：“【吉】【尔】【姐】【说】……” “【吉】【尔】【姐】~！？【你】【俩】【在】【房】【间】【里】【干】【了】【啥】
【夜】【色】【如】【水】，【秦】【天】【静】【静】【的】【站】【在】【一】【座】【庭】【院】，【凝】【望】【着】【深】【邃】【的】【夜】【空】。 “【小】【坏】【蛋】，【在】【想】【什】【么】？” 【耳】【边】【传】【来】【一】【道】【轻】【柔】【的】【声】【音】，【很】【快】【打】【断】【秦】【天】【的】【思】【绪】，【微】【微】【偏】【头】，【正】【看】【到】【红】【月】【缓】【步】【走】【来】。 “【刚】【才】【没】【想】【什】【么】，【不】【过】【红】【月】【姐】【出】【现】，【我】【就】【知】【道】【我】【应】【该】【想】【些】【什】【么】【了】！” 【秦】【天】【咧】【了】【咧】【嘴】，【笑】【眯】【眯】【的】【说】【道】。 “【小】【色】【狼】，【你】【也】【不】【怕】
【有】【些】【人】，【在】【面】【对】【第】【七】【重】【天】【时】，【很】【容】【易】【度】【过】【此】【劫】，【而】【有】【些】【人】，【或】【许】【耗】【尽】【一】【生】，【都】【走】【不】【出】【那】【道】【门】【槛】。 【经】【过】【一】【番】【厮】【杀】，【玄】【月】【背】【着】【苧】【茜】【杀】【出】【了】【重】【围】，【只】【是】【身】【后】【还】【是】【有】【一】【批】【人】【穷】【追】【不】【舍】。 【对】【于】【玄】【月】【来】【说】，【他】【已】【经】【手】【下】【留】【情】【了】，【便】【没】【有】【伤】【到】【五】【位】【天】【罡】【星】【君】，【只】【是】【杀】【了】【一】【些】【天】【兵】【以】【及】【天】【罡】【兵】。 “【怎】【么】【办】，【他】【们】【还】【是】【穷】【追】【不】【舍】
【长】【生】【不】【死】？ 【无】【论】【谁】【只】【要】【听】【到】【了】【这】【个】【有】【关】【长】【生】【门】【的】【秘】【密】，【都】【会】【为】【之】【好】【奇】。 【姬】【倪】【皇】【也】【不】【例】【外】，【对】【她】【来】【说】，【司】【空】【见】【却】【还】【不】【足】【以】【相】【信】。 【直】【到】【现】【在】，【姬】【倪】【皇】【也】【不】【得】【不】【承】【认】，【司】【空】【见】【的】【确】【是】【个】【十】【分】【好】【用】【的】【人】。 【正】【因】【为】【他】【这】【人】【的】【脑】【袋】【灵】【活】，【野】【心】【也】【足】【够】【大】，【姬】【倪】【皇】【才】【决】【定】【与】【他】【合】【作】。 【如】【今】，【数】【年】【过】【去】【了】，【韩】【国】【被】【秦】
【萧】【墨】【宸】【终】【究】【还】【是】【放】【手】【了】，【他】【伸】【手】【摸】【了】【摸】【秦】【子】【瑶】【的】【脸】【蛋】【儿】，【在】【她】【额】【头】【上】【落】【下】【一】【吻】，【眸】【子】【中】【全】【都】【是】【不】【舍】【与】【无】【奈】，【就】【在】【秦】【子】【瑶】【的】【手】【指】【轻】【轻】【动】【了】【一】【下】，【萧】【墨】【宸】【转】【身】【离】【开】【了】。 【墨】【渊】【的】【眼】【中】【露】【出】【了】【一】【抹】【复】【杂】，【也】【带】【了】【几】【分】【的】【愧】【疚】，【可】【他】【却】【没】【有】【阻】【拦】【萧】【墨】【宸】。 【秦】【子】【璐】【见】【萧】【墨】【宸】【出】【来】，【连】【忙】【跟】【了】【上】【去】，【本】【来】【想】【开】【口】【询】【问】，【可】【却】【被】【萧】【墨】【宸】
【雨】【过】【天】【晴】，【碧】【空】【如】【洗】，【不】【知】【何】【时】【远】【处】【嫩】【绿】【的】【树】【梢】【上】【已】【经】【悄】【悄】【架】【起】【五】【彩】【的】【虹】【桥】，【各】【种】【鸟】【雀】【欢】【快】【地】【唱】【着】【歌】【儿】，【无】【所】【顾】【忌】【相】【互】【追】【逐】、【打】【闹】【着】。 【无】【疑】，【这】【是】【一】【个】【清】【新】【美】【丽】【的】【早】【晨】。 【数】【天】【的】【精】【心】【呵】【护】，【小】【萝】【莉】【蛇】【毒】【已】【无】【大】【碍】，【身】【子】【虽】【说】【有】【点】【孱】【弱】，【但】【脸】【色】【明】【显】【好】【转】，【隐】【隐】【约】【约】【有】【些】【浅】【红】【色】【的】【晕】【光】。 【白】【里】【透】【红】，【与】【众】【不】【同】