6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.—Dinner; two hot dogs and a beer.
6:30 p.m. to the close of betting on the first race—Benny hawks the Sheet.
There was no great mystery about Benny's willingness to sweep up the grandstand—the track manager knew he was looking for discarded winning tickets. But the track's patrons did not know about Benny's moonlight activity. Benny was not napping at all during the time from 8 a.m. to noon, when he drew the curtains on his hearse. Instead, he was carefully sifting through the refuse he had swept up the night before, picking out any winning tickets that had been mistakenly discarded by nervous bettors.
Later that night Benny would stroll to his spot on the rail at the top of the stretch. After each race he would nonchalantly but conspicuously walk to the cashier's window and cash one of his winning tickets from the previous night. His repeated visits to the cashier's cage had predictable results: the circulation of the Green Sheet flourished.
My friends and I traveled to the track often that summer, and we were impressed by Benny's success. It was against the law for minors to bet, but it was always possible to suborn some adult into fronting for us if we had the money. Normally we were broke, but on the closing day of the meeting we scraped up $4 and decided to try our luck.
It was a trivial sum, but we figured we could build it into a fortune by night's end if we had one of Benny's Green Sheets. We had forgotten something. Benny's Green Sheet cost 50�, so if we bought one and somehow (no matter how improbably) lost our first bet, we were wiped out. We decided to try a kind of informal welfare.
As soon as betting closed on the first race we went up to Benny and asked him to give us one of his sheets free. "They're not much good to you now," we said.
He refused at first, then told us: "If you get down to one bet, come around. I may give you a break."
Our first try was a show ticket that paid $3. We missed betting on the third race when we got into a disagreement over how to make the best use of the odd dollar. One of the syndicate wanted to go for a $5 ticket, another wanted to stick with $2 bets, while another wanted to spend the buck on hot dogs. We stayed with small show bets, hitting in both the fourth and fifth races but losing in the sixth. The seventh and eighth races brought us small profits, so we decided to open up in the ninth and 10th—and none of our dogs came in. We were desolate, and back down to $2 with only one race left.
We found Benny at his usual spot on the rail. He saw us coming and grinned. Before we could even speak he said, very low, "Three dog. Ten to one. Can't lose." We were in. We would take home 20 bucks.