history and
Norman Allan
    ted allan: biography         art and literature          science and philosophy            biography            blog



Second Intermission


Odds and Ends.

Odds: There was a slot machine in the cigar store where Ted worked in his teens. This cigar store with its bookie's establishment in the back is portrayed in "Lies My Father Told Me" (the movie) and features in "Love is a Long Shot" (the book). Ted, Alan Herman in those days, was working in the shop, the "front". Once Mr. Keller, the proprietor had gained confidence in him, he showed Ted how to fix the slot machine. You could open it in back and there was a mechanism with which you could set the odds - adjust how frequently it would pay out. So to start with, Keller explained, you'd arrange for it to pay out a lot until it got a reputation as a generous, a lucky machine. Then you'd adjust it to be more stingy, until the interest waned. Then you might prime it again.
     Ted, Alan, used to set the machine so it would not pay out at all. Then he would play it asking, beseeching, "Do it for me!" He needed to see if he was special, if he could beat the odds.

Ends: Ted often felt that he was frozen, as in an enchantment, by Gerda Taro's death. He wrote once of Gerda's planned trip to Paris:

"I remember her saying she was afraid of Capa, and I remember her saying that she might come back. I was petrified she wouldn't. I wanted to go to Paris with her. I felt ill with the thought that she might not come back. She said we'd have a farewell party together. She bought champagne for us. I didn't want a farewell party for us. She wasn't sure. She was afraid of loving me. And I was afraid she'd never come back. So when she died Capa didn't get her. And she was dead, not me. This is what I've never been able to face [that at some level he was relieved]. Well now, the obsession is over. My guilt is over. I am only left with my loss.

chapter fifteen