Honest Sid

Honest Sid

4.6 16
by Ronald Probstein
     
 

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If you're going to live outside the law, you'd better be honest. This seeming paradox was the operating principle of Sid Probstein's life. Guileless and endlessly optimistic, he was known as Honest Sid around his stomping ground of New York's Broadway. Sid wasn't a tough guy, or even a bad guy. He just never had the patience for the "straight" life, grinding out a… See more details below

Overview

If you're going to live outside the law, you'd better be honest. This seeming paradox was the operating principle of Sid Probstein's life. Guileless and endlessly optimistic, he was known as Honest Sid around his stomping ground of New York's Broadway. Sid wasn't a tough guy, or even a bad guy. He just never had the patience for the "straight" life, grinding out a living at some monotonous desk job.

He was the quintessential American dreamer, always sure that the good life was just one big score away, a man who never stopped believing in his own good luck, even when the evidence said otherwise. He had all the tools, he was charming, good-looking, quick-witted and decent, but he had an obsession he couldn't escape.

Honest Sid is the story of an American archetype as seen through the eyes of his son, Ronald, who loved him, and who almost lost him. It follows Sid's adventures in the world of bookies and bettors, fighters and fixers, players and suckers set against the often-romanticized backdrop of Depression-era New York. It is also the passionate tale of the great and tempestuous love between Sid and his wife Sally, and of his son Ronald whom he idolized.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Probstein (Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus/MIT) offers a delightful life story of his father, Honest Sid, "a gambler, a horseplayer, a bookie… a ticket scalper" and an all-around nice guy. "Even though his lifestyle was crooked," writes Probstein of his father, "his intentions were loving and honorable." It was just that he had neither an interest in nor a temperament for a real job. In his youth, in the early decades of the past century, he'd been a promising baseball player—until he threw a game. He'd tried being a booking agent for vaudeville acts—Adam and Eve the Twin Bowling Monkeys were a big draw—but that was too straight a profession. And so, seemingly inevitably, he made his life and living amid the denizens of New York's Broadway—shady characters with bright suits that Damon Runyon would later turn into American archetypes. This, then, was the setting of Probstein's childhood. His playgrounds were boxing gyms, betting parlors and theater basements along the Great White Way. While other kids learned to hunt or fish with their dads, Probstein learned to handicap horse races and calculate betting odds, skills that would serve him well in his later science career. Life was not easy for a freelancing ne'er-do-well and his family in Depression era New York. A good week would mean Sid brought home a large stack of cash to his wife, and the love of his life, Sally. A bad week meant the shylocks would come calling. Good times meant Sunday dinner at Lindy's, bad times meant quick exits from transient hotels. Nevertheless, Probstein adored his father and this affection imbues the book with an appealing nostalgia. A lithe, dashing figure in his tailored suits, Sid was never anything but kind and devoted to both his son and Sally. An eternal optimist, he was sure that the next bet, the next horse race, would be their ticket to the good life. It never happened, but despite the bumps along the way, Probstein cherished life with this charming dreamer of a dad. With humor, a rich eye for detail and a storyteller's knack, the author brings to life a time and place now long gone. Probstein is clearly having a good time here—the reader will as well.
Personal - Marie Clark
Written with great sensitivity this memoir of the life of Sid Probstein adds yet another unforgetable and colorful character to the cast created by Damon Runyon. Honest Sid, the father of the author Ronald Probstein, was an inveterate gambler, bookie, and hustler who scalped tickets in New York in the 1920s and 30s. He and his family lived on the edge. He taught his son how to handicap horses, how to eat for free at the Automat, and how to pack up and leave a residential hotel when the rent...
Online - Book LoverRome
Honest Sid is the story of a father, a gambler, a bookie, from the Broadway area of New York City. The author, Ronald Probstein, is the Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has written other books, though mainly scientific. Taking a break from his science background Probstein shares his story of his father and a family dealing with the depression and the darkness of the gambling world in the city.

This is an intriguing book
Online - Midwest BookReview
To make ends meet and to keep your sanity is a hard compromise to make. "Honest Sid: Memoir of a Gambling Man" is a son looking back towards his father and reflecting on how he lived his life. Ronald Probstein reflects on the figure known as Honest Sid, who he knew as Dad, and how he lived his life. Giving original insight in how the families of these individuals who will delve into the underworld to make ends meet and how they are not necessarily bad people, "Honest Sid" is amazing.
Online - DP Hart
Honest Sid is a story that has universal appeal. I recommended it to my mother who was born and raised in Iowa on a farm. Though not a typical Midwesterner, she does share many of the same values and background. She wrote to me "I just finished reading the book you recommended: Honest Sid. What a remarkable story!

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440141874
Publisher:
iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/21/2009
Series:
Rising Star Series
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

One of America’s foremost engineering scientists, Ronald Probstein is Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His undergraduate training was at New York University’s night school and his graduate work in aeronautical engineering and physics at Princeton. He has played a principal role in some of the most important scientific and technical achievements in the post World War II era, involving spacecraft and ballistic missile reentry physics, hypersonic flight theory, comet astrophysics, desalination, synthetic fuels, and the electrokinetic remediation of soil. For these achievements, he has been honored as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Academy of Astronautics, and awarded an honorary doctorate from Brown University. Author, editor, lecturer, inventor, Professor Probstein has ten critically acclaimed scientific and technical books to his credit. Born in New York City in 1928, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife, Irène. He has one son, Sidney, and three grandchildren.

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