The Phonebooth

This ‘glimpse’ was written by John Bourke, who is a Thoroughbred race trainer, breeder, owner and an all- around great horseman. How many times did he drive past this retired box and thought to himself what that phone must have meant to so many people. . . the riders, the trainers, the drifters and others who are now long gone. It is a melancholy glimpse that is too special not to share. Thank you, John, for writing this and thank you for Artful Way (Ray), Give Me Cash (Johnny), and Good Kid (Billy).

I was once an integral part of the backside.  I was virtually used 24/7….but look at me now.  Grass & weeds taking me over- inside & out, thanks to those dam cell phones.

I was even looked upon as a threat to the integrity of racing.  Management locked me up 1 hour before the first post to keep those devious backside folks from calling their bookmakers, thus lowering  the on track handle.

When I was unlocked after the last race, the desperados would be standing in line to make collect calls, pleading to friends or family to wire more money.

I was also witness to many a call concerning affairs of the heart.  Some would profess their love & others question the fidelity of their long distance partners.

Then there were the battling trainers trying to eek out a living, (Pre-simulcast days) giving a story to their owners that rivaled a Tennessee Williams script.  It was a common place for battlers to feed me Mexican Centavos in place of quarters. It was known as a con man’s discount.

I guess the lesson learned from all those calls is simple.  Self preservation takes precedence over all else.

Just waiting for Ma Bell & Thistledown management to lock my door for the final time and carry me off to the old pay phone graveyard.

End of an era.

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