Four very important things one needs to understand about the numbers racket and the predominantly negro area of East Street, Nassau, in 1965. First, Father Allen, in his little shack restaurant, sold the best fried chicken in the known universe. It was juicy and crispy all at the same time. Father Allen’s chicken was fried dried like rough leather and seasoned high, about 175 degrees north of high blood pressure.
After the 1967 general elections, which introduced the first Majority Rule government, a nationalist Bahamianization policy allowed negro businesses to expand into previously forbidden areas. By 1973, Father Allen’s famous chicken would be highlighted in the international press, as the cuisine to eat, in Nassau. The restaurant expanded its franchise to the foot of Paradise Island Bridge.
(The Boston Globe, Sunday, 25 February 1973)
Second, in 1965, the only Close Circuit Television (CCTV) in the Over The Hill area of Nassau was your own two eyes. So if someone got caught, like a Numbers man, doing something illegal like running a lottery, it was usually because somebody talked. It was a dangerous occupation. If you were selling Numbers and didn’t have a revolver or a bodyguard somewhere close, you may soon have found yourself out of business, or out of this world.
Third, Numbers didn’t bring in massive amounts of money in 1965. It was profitable for sure, but nothing on the scale of what was being earned with legal gambling in the hotels/casinos of Freeport. Back then, Negroes saved more and did more with what they were able to save. This ethos gave the appearance of vast wealth in impoverished neighbourhoods. A stone house, amid a community of wooden houses, was a castle.
Fourth, Numbers was an underground negro game since forever. Whites gambled in their private casinos. Negroes bet on the three ball after church. For some inexplicable reason, the ability to engage in the sport of betting was taken away from Bahamians in general and negroes in particular since forever. Despite the Bahamas having horse racing, which people could bet on, and had casino gambling, which tourists could engage in, betting was kept out of the hands of the Bahamian population in general, and negroes in particular, by law.
Numbers Case Against Olan D. Smith better known as “Father Allen”
By Monday January 11, 1965, when Olan D. Smith, and his employees Estella Clarke and Napoleon Hanna appeared before the courts, the trio decided the trio decided to change their not guilty plea to guilty.
Represented by attorney Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, they stood as the court pronounced sentence.
Chief Inspector Wilton Boyd told the court that the police entered the East Street restaurant at 11 pm on Monday, December 28.
They arrested Smith, Clarke and Hanna. When arrested, Smith he had in his waistband a .22 revolver with six live rounds and one spent round. The revolver was hidden from view by his shirt which was over his trousers.
Inspector Boyd said the police searched the premises and found £331 12 shillings 2d. and $65.30. The money was in 10 different cigar boxes. Nine other cigar boxes containing documents bearing names and numbers, stationery elements, seven .38 calibre cartridges and one .22 calibre cartridge. Two other boxes were empty. A bag containing small wooden balls numbers from 1 to 100 was also found.
At Smith’s home, in his bedroom, was found a money bag containing £29 in shillings, £205 in four shilling notes, another bag containing £24 in small coins and £37 1s 4d and $53.36 in a number of different places, nine wooden balls not numbered and $2.31 in Canadian currency.
Mr Cecil Wallace-Whitfield who appeared for the three defendants, told the court that Smith being a businessman had other money at his business place besides the lottery money.
He also stated that the money found at Smith’s home had nothing whatsoever to do with the lottery and that the police had not proven that the particular sum of money was connected with the lottery.
Mr Wallace stated that on instructions he received, Smith took the revolver from a drunk man at the restaurant on Sunday night. He said that this was not the first occasion that Smith took a gun or other weapons from his customers.
Smith, he said had intentions of handing the weapon to the police, but being a busy man he apparently had no time to hand it in before he was arrested.
COURT CONFISCATES FATHER ALLEN’S NUMBERS BALLS!
The court confiscated a total of £613, 12s, 11d. and $133.07 which was part of the money found on the premises where the lottery was conducted and in Smith’s bedroom after a search was made by the police.
Mr Bailey ordered that the sum of £120, 11s, 1d and $119.80 be returned to Smith. This was found in Mrs Smith’s bedroom and two cigar boxes found at the restaurant. A number of other documents including bank deposit slips and three bankbooks also returned.
Also confiscated by the court were: a bag of small wooden balls numbered 1 to 100; twenty-three .22 calibre cartridges, seven .38 calibre cartridges, nine wooden balls not numbered, a number of documents bearing names and numbers and a .22 revolver.
Smith was also fined £50 or three months for having in his possession and unlicensed revolver.