The late Russell JOnes AKA Ol'Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan reminded me about my father today. There's an Ol' Dirty Bastard song called Rawhide which includes the lyrics "I'm gonna get paid fully ... whether it's truthfully or untruthfully." That line sums up my father as he was always after what he coined O.P.M. (Other People's Money). He was a straight hustler and always had his fingers in some racket.
My parents brought a house in eastern NC when I was in third grade. Back during that time NC had a ban all fireworks. This meant every year around New Years and the Fourth of July we would jump into the car and ride across Highway 70 and down I-95 to South of the Border. For those not familiar with South of the Border, it a place just south of the NC in South Carolina that has rides and sells fireworks of all size. There are signs advertising it's existence all along I-95 in Southern NC.
Our purpose for going to South of the Border was to load up our car with as many different types of fireworks as we could with the money my father had. In most cases, we made the trip on the Firday night or Saturday after payday as going then maximized the amount of money available. Of course, the idea was to take this trunkload of fireworks back to home and then sell them to others that were not as industrious as my father. With his trunkload of fireworks, my father spent the next week hitting all his usual hangouts and selling the fireworks at a 50-100% mark-up. Within the first day or so, he had a new wad of money (usually lots of ones wrapped in a $50 or $100 bill).
I remember travelling with my father and mother (someone had to keep him out of trouble)almost every time, but my sister wasn't always present. One such time in which we made the trip without my sister, we travelled down late in the day (South of the Border is a 24 hr establishment). Upon returning we hit Bunn around 11PM and my father was hungry. Bunn is a little town on I-95 and we usually stop there for gas. Being a little town this means that every shuts down early and after driving all over town, the only place to eat was Pizza Hut that was getting ready to close and the only thing they had available was a pizza with pineapple on it. [This was my first encounter ever with a pineapple pizza, but later in college I would order them by choice.] This pizza was available because apparently someone ordered it for pick-up and never came to get it. At 11PM and nothing else available, my father who would not ever consider eating a pineapple pizza normally gladly accepted the discounted pizza and we got back on the road.
The last time I visited my father at his house was about 2-3 years ago (after McKenzie was born, but before Nesta was born). He had injured his shoulder and was no longer to work, but not collecting disability. His wife was just injured, so they had no legal income. At that time, he had purchased a new CD burner and was bootlegging CDs. They were then taking that money and buying food that they then prepared and sold out of the house along with beer and sodas. Keep in mind that the closest local store was 5+ miles away, so they were the closest location where such items could be purchased. As I sat there that night, one of his wholesale customers came in and purchased $100 in bootleg CDs ($4 each), a beer and a sandwhich. I just remember chuckling to myself because no matter how amazingly bizarre his schemes were they almost always paid off.
His luck was always just amazing. My mother always joked that even thought he would the first to die, he would outlive us all. He ultimately got the last laugh because none of us expected him to go this early.