Friday, February 10, 2006

San Francisco's Old Chinatown, Part 4

By Commissioner Jesse B. Cook
Former Chief of Police
Part 4*
The lottery drawings: The Chinese have a very large room, with the doors constructed the same way as in the case of a fan tan game room. The far end of the room is partitioned off with wire screens to the full width and about eight feet deep. In back of the screen are two shelves, one of which acts as a counter for four Chinamen. Each Chinaman has a separate window in the screen. O the other shelf are placed Chinese ink pots and brushes, for the purpose of marking Chinese lottery tickets. Every Chinese lottery ticket has 80 characters on it; 40 above the line and 40 below. Each company stamps their own name at the head of the ticket. These tickets are really a Chinese poem, written by a Chinaman while in prison, and later adopted as a Chinese lottery ticket. There is not a thing on these tickets to designate their real use, although they are never used for nay other purpose.
The agents around town had their offices in back of stores where they sell the tickets. Just before the drawing takes place, they present a triplicate copy of each ticket sold to the Chinaman at the window. The duplicate ticket is given the purchaser, while the original is retained by the agent.
The clerk back of the window then figures up the amount that the agent should turn in to cover the tickets sold. If they agree, the clerk accepts the tickets. No receipt are given. The actual taking and accepting of the tickets by the clerk is considered an acknowlegement, as his name appears on all the tickets.
As soon as all the money and tickets are in, the tickets are closed and the lottery is held. In a little package, about 2 inches square, are 80 slips of paper. On each of these slips is a character corresponding to one of the characters on the lottery ticket. The Chinaman sets in front of him a large pan, like the old-time milk pans we used to set for milk to raise cream, and four bowls, each bearing a Chinese number--either one, two, three or four. The small slips of paper are folded into little pellets, brown into the pan and shaken up. The drawing then begins. The first pellet draw is put into bowl No. 1, the next into bowl No. 2, and so on, until there are twenty pellets in each bowl.
The Chinaman then takes another small package containing four little square pieces of paper. On each of these pieces is a figure in Chinese corresponding with the figures on the bowls. The same procedure is then followed as with the pellets. The slip picked from the pan is handed to the clerk, who in turn hands it to a man standing on the shelf in back of him. ; It is opened, in the presence of everybody gathered there. Of course, the bowl bearing the same number is considered the winning bowl, the other three are placed under the counter.
The pellets are then taken from the winning bowl and are pasted on a board in full view. These are winning characters. The Chinese mark the tickets by daubing the characters that agree with the ones on the board, with a brush. After this has been done, they present their tickets, and come back at the proper time to get their reward; that is, whatever they won.
*Part 1 was posted 11/12/05.
-Part 2 was posted 1/7/06.
-Part 3 was posted 1/17/06.
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