"Why did you do that?" the bookmaker asked.
"To pay off my gambling debt." Sam replied.
"Why didn't you come and tell us?" the bookmaker asked. "We'd have worked out payments. What about your wife?" That was Lil.
"I'll make it up to her," said Rubin. "In affection."
"Some kind of nut like you I've never met," the bookmaker told him. He bought back Rubin's hand laundry for him the very next day, but Sam kept on betting—on games, on craps, on horses. He went into the toy business, selling Howdy Doody puppets, and in the early 1950s became a traveling bicycle salesman, journeying only to cities with racetracks.
"I was a complete degenerate," he says. "On Sunday I would bet 14 football games and lose 12 and win two. At $3,000, $5,000 a crack. A lot of money I've got to get up on Monday morning. I'd get advances from the factories I represented. But I was an astronomical earner and I always paid."
Lil put up with this for years and years. One day Rubin stopped betting with the books. He doesn't know why. "It just came over me," he says. It was a Sunday morning about 18 years ago.
"You feeling well, Sam?" Lil asked. "You're not making any phone calls."
"Do I have to?" he said.
"You always seem to have to," said Lil.