After several reports on the internet that Amarillo Slim Preston had passed away, it seemed appropriate that this story about being robbed involved him. But I talked to Slim in Amarillo and it seems he might overcome his illness. Slim is battling cancer and has heart problems but is fighting hard.
In the late 60s Slim, Sailor Roberts and myself would go to West Texas to play poker, bet on high school football, and take bets from the local bookies on sporting events, The high school football games in Texas was an amazing thing. Stores would close early and the entire town would go to the games and bet heavily on them. The stadiums would hold 15-20 thousand people and would be sold out.
After a big football game in Midland, Slim and I decided to go to an afterhour’s nightclub where they had a backroom poker game. Black and white people were separated in those days and this game was what was called “colored town.” We had been to this game before and the owner of the club invited us to play. We were the only white people in the club but we had always gotten along extremely well with the blacks. We won almost every dollar in the poker game and stayed around for a few cocktails. We finally left and started for our car when a big black guy stopped us and asked Slim for a match. I immediately sensed danger and told Slim to forget it and lets go. But instead Slim reached in his pocket and when he did the man hit him breaking his jaw and knocking him out. The robber took Slims money and his diamond stickpin. He turned toward me but I was already running for my car where I had a pistol that I always carried.
As I was running someone tackled me and three other large black men surrounded me and started hitting and kicking me I would have given them my money but they kept kicking me and I instinctively fought back, throwing dirt in their face every time they tried to get in my pockets. Finally after a terrible beating I got to my feet and knocked one of the men down. Cars were driving by so I guess they were afraid of being caught and they all ran away.
Slim and I went home to treat our cuts and bruises. We had a good friend who was a doctor and he got up in the middle of the night to patch us up. Slims jaw was shattered and he couldn’t eat solid food for a month. I had three broken ribs, multiple cuts, a dislocated nose and my ear was torn loose. After the doctor left we foolishly decided to go back to try to avenge our beating. There was a really tough guy that we had played poker with so I called him. I told him our story and asked if he would go over with us.
This friend was George McGann who later became a famous member of the gang known as The Dixie Mafia. He told me to wait a few minutes while he made some phone calls. After a while, George called back and told us he couldn’t go with us. He said “Those were Chuck’s boys and he is my best friend. They are sorry but didn’t know who you were, but if you want trouble they would understand.”
After thinking a moment I said ok but I told him I wanted to find the guy that had kicked me in the head several times. George laughed and told me it wouldn’t do me any good, he would just whip me again. He had just been cut from the San Francisco 49′ers football team.
Slim wanted to go to the police and report the robbery the next day but I talked him out of it. If we had run to the cops it would have made us unwelcome in several of the illegal poker games we played in. So we just chalked it up as another price we had to play for our lifestyle.
As an afterthought, Chuck came to see us the next day to tell us again he was sorry about what happened. I told him if they would give Slim the $1200 they took we would forget it. He told us his boys had already spent the money. He the asked me how much money I had on me the previous night. I can still see the look of regret in his face when I told him I had $15,000 â€“ yeah, too bad Chuck!
May the flop be with you!