Since I’ve been using the wayback machine I’ll turn it on again and look at a man who was born in 1862 in Bavaria. A man 100 years my senior, one of 15 children who left Bavaria to seek his fortunes in the US starting in New Jersey and eventually ending up in San Francisco.
He liked to work with mechanical things and because of this he eventually wound up working at the California Electric Works where he met his friend Theodore Holtz whom after awhile decided to leave CEW and start their own company. The Fey Company specialized in telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment until in 1895 Charles Fey created a device he called the Liberty Bell, a boxy contraption that you would insert a nickel into and pull an arm on the side of the machine to cause three wheels to spin and depending on what three images came up you could win up to five dollars [if you got three liberty bells].
Charles Fey was the inventor of the first slot machine and it happened here in San Francisco. In 1980 E. Clampus Vitus placed a plaque commemorating the invention of the slot machine at the location of the original Fey Company at 406 Market Street.
The original Liberty Bell machine can now be found at the Liberty Bell Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, NV owned by the grandchildren of Charles Fey. It is made of cast iron and weighs in at over 100 pounds and believe it or not, it still works.
So here is a salute to Charles Fey the man who invented a way to take money from the willing without even having to be there. He was better than any disposed Nigerian Prince I’ve never met.
So I was seeing my doctor this morning and as I figured he wanted me to have a blood test. I go down to the lab and get called by a nurse who’s going to take my blood and she says to me, “Oh Mr. Kauschen, where does your family name come from?” I tell her it’s the name of an eastern province in Prussia. “Have you ever visited your home country?”
She obviously hasn’t looked at a map lately, but she’s sure good with needles. As I’m telling my wife this story she blurts out, “Your home country is Jackson.” I thought for a second and she’s right. You have to go back through a whole bunch of generations to find the first immigrants in my family and they’ve called Jackson, California their home since at least the beginnings of the 1800’s. It’s been awhile since I’ve been back there but Jackson is still the same. We used to go up there every summer and my best friend there was the son of the chief of police who all the teenagers called, “Bubble Butt” and he made Jackie Gleeson in Cannonball run look like a civilized Manhattan business man in comparison. They’ve come up in the world a bit lately with their Indian Casino, but it’s still Jackson.
We used to eat outside in the hot summers there and there was always a neighbor coming into the yard while we was eating with a loud, “Hey how ya’ll doin’!” usually accompanied by something grown on their farm or backyard. So yeah, I’ve got a little country in me and I’d have to agree with my wife, Jackson is my home country and I’m a Native American. I didn’t come from anywhere else, I’m an American. Friends of mine in other countries always find it strange as to the fixation of Americans of what countries their descents came from. I guess it that we have nothing better to do that try and find ways to keep us separated. For me it’s better to say I’m an American because at least I know what I am. The area my father came from was at different times Germany, Poland, Prussia and Lithuania. Who needs all that confusion just be American and be done with it.