by Gene Trimble
In last months column I started Rip Poulos's story of a 30 year gambling career along the Gulf Coast. In part II Rip's story will identify 8 more chips used in Mississippi. But first, as I promised, I need to tell you a little about Verta Lee Swetman.
Verta is 81 years old and recently retired from a 48 year career in the Federal Court system in Mississippi. She and Rip were on opposite sides of the law and today, they are still friends. To understand gaming on the Gulf Coast, you must understand that most people wanted it. It was a way of life. It has always been there, out in the open for everyone to see. Most judges did not look at the gambling as a crime. Verta Lee may or may not have felt this way, but she also had a job to do.
If you saw the movie Mississippi Burning with Gene Hackman, you will recognize this story. In 1964 J. Edgar Hoover needed a warrant to search the property where the 3 slain civil rights workers might be buried. He told the agent in charge to travel 200 miles, in order to bypass two other US Commissioners, and get the warrant from Verta Lee. He was afraid the other two would alert the KKK. Verta issued the warrant, took the affidavit home with her, and put it under her pillow. The next day, the FBI found the bodies. The times were different in those days. Many people in Mississippi did not want the bodies found. Great harm could have come to anyone helping the FBI.
Verta's handling of this situation, once again brought the FBI to her door in 1970. There was a big push on to close the gambling joints. In one day Verta issued 200 warrants. She told me, she signed her name so many times, she thought her wrist was sprained. Once again, there was fear that other commissioners would alert the gamblers. The Fed's confiscated over 1,500 slot machines and many of the casino's chips, in this massive raid. Over the years, several County Sheriff's went to jail for protecting the gambling.
I could compare the last two months columns to the movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Ms Gulf Coast. Verta Lee would most certainly be "The Good." That leaves Rip to be "The Bad." The only Ugly one on the coast that weekend was me. Maybe not! I forgot, both Susong and my brother in law was there also.
Last month we had scans of Rip's RP chips. This month we are featuring 8 other chips used by Rip or was used at other Gulf Coast casinos. At this time I hope there is room to scan all of them. All of Rips chips have been forwarded to the authors of the Gaming Table. The green Magnolia Club-SqinCir is listed in the GT as a Florida chip. Rip positively Id's it as a Biloxi chip. The most chips of any one kind that Rip had, is 40. I got the only LEH - H/C he had. I feel certain more of all of them will show up, due to the amount of publicity that Bob Gabel got on the Blast From The Past chip show.
Magnolia Club SqinCir Biloxi 40's & 50's Ran by Mickey McCool. Magnolia Club Rect/Heart Biloxi 40's & 50's Ran by Mickey McCool. JEH H/C Long Beach Ms 70's Jerry Heydon (crap game). 406 Club LgSqs Biloxi 40's & 50's Ran by Mickey McCool. GNK HHR Biloxi 60's 406 Club, does not remember
the persons name.
Fiesta HorseShoes Biloxi 60's & 70's Now Treasure Bay Casino. Grove LgSq Biloxi 40's & 50's Pic courtesy of Ed Hertel SC Rect/Heart Biloxi 40's - 50's Social Club-2nd floor of
the Union Bar.
The Fiesta was open from 1950 to 1993 and was closed to make way for Treasure Bay. It was owned by John Mladnich. It was the first club on the coast to offer entertainment, year around. Like Gus Steven's Supper Club, the gambling was moved to private clubs when liquor was legalized along the coast.
In the past four months, I have written stories about 22 chips that were not listed in the Gaming Table, The Sal Sagev 5, Hacienda 4, RP Biloxi 5, and other Biloxi chips 8. I have had many good comments about the stories. Thank you to all. Actually the real credit belongs elsewhere. Credit for the Biloxi chip finds belongs to one man, Bob Gabel. He did all the work, I only reported on it. Credit for the Hacienda find belongs to my friend, an unnamed chipper. He not only found them, he said something to me, that sparked my interest. Without that spark, they might still be un-attributed chips, today. The Sal Sagev story happened because of two chippers making unproved claims in order to make a big profit. I actually set out to disprove their claims. I think my story might have hurt the price on the SSC chips. That was not my intention. I begrudgingly give the credit and dedicate the SSC story to these two nice, but just a little bit greedy, chippers.
I am old, tired, and researched out. At least until that next little spark "Lights My Fire".
I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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