Re: RARA-AVIS: The Maltese Falcon: 'stuss games'

Peter Walker (
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 08:18:08 +0000 Luc sante's excellent account of 19th Century New York gives this
explans stuss games as a development of its very popular forerunner
fargo (an ever so slightly bent gambling game and which was so popular
it gave the English language such phrases as "keeping tabs", "srting
along", "sleper" etc). Stuss was the most successful variant of fargo
(and was also known as 'Jewish Fargo') and it dominated the NY Bowery
area from the late 19thC to WW1. It never took hold anywhere else so
Hammett's accont of Thursby's career: "..but they got him once in New
York for knocking over a row of
stuss-games" is an accurate statement of this fact. The game was even
more loaded in favour of the 'bank' than its forerunner and all the
mayor gangsters of NY, Monk Eastman, Kid Twist, Jonny Spanish (who's
names would not look out of palce in Hammetts books) opperated a stuss
game. It had died out by WW1 but - and here's a roundabout link to
Chester Himes - the reapperance of this knid of 'gambling' was first
seen in Harlem in 1928 and had been renamed 'numbers'

"Low Life" Luc Sante Pub (UK) Granta 1998 Pp 159-160

Peter Walker
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