Six Million and One

Israel Rostov was a high school dropout who worked as a fur-cart pusher in the State and Lake Building. Roy was eight years old when he first saw him. On Saturdays Roy often accompanied his grandfather, Jack Colby, whom he called Pops, to the furriers’ office there that Pops shared with his brothers, Ike and Nate. Their brother Louie, who was the president of the Chicago Furriers Association, which he had founded, kept his office on the sixth floor of the building. The Colby brothers’ office was on the eighth floor.

Roy would sit on a high stool and cut up pelts with a stiletto-like knife Pops had taught him to use, while his grandfather and great-uncles sat around a marble-topped table and played cards. When Louie joined them, the game was bridge; otherwise, they played three-handed gin rummy.

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