Ida’s taking names, picking teams, and giving numbers

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As soon as Ida got the message on that day in 1963, she got to work. She outfitted a small sailboat she received from a rich family in New Orleans.

But now she was getting down and dirty in the Big Easy, ripping up the mahogany interior and filling the gunwales of the sailboat with kerosene, rope and tins of pickled herring she had brought from her beloved Silver Star. For good measure, she threw in a subway map from New York City, which she routinely used as subterfuge for her code.

No doubt the Cuban authorities — if they seized the load at all — would be confused at the surfeit of numbers on the map: “3, 425, 33, 531, 72.” But it was assured that her compatriots in La Habana, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Santiago, or wherever they reside, would get the message, as clear as the skylight at the Flatbush Library.

But Ida had no interest in politics or the egomaniacal whims of men who go to the end of the earth for a place in history. For what is a marble bust, a stone monument, a sentence in a child’s textbook, and do they all not crumble inevitably before our eyes? These were not rebels, nor government forces to which she sent this buoyant package; these were men and women simply trying to host the opening of a gallery.

That is why Ida inserted a laminated note inside one of the cans of kerosene quoting the great Walt Whitman: “The future is no more uncertain than the present.”

Ida’s picks: Broncos (−10.5), Jets (−2), Bears (−3), Ravens (NS), Browns (−5), Steelers (NS), Colts (−5), Falcons (−3.5), Buccaneers (−7), Bills (−3), Bengals (−3), Packers (−6.5).


Dolphins (10) over 49ers

“Not sold on this Kaepernick fellow.”

Seahawks (−10) over Cards

“You know the score.”

Texans (4) over New England

“Texans are for real.”


Giants (−6) over Saints

Ida’s record last week: 7–7–2

Overall: 87–99–6

Kryptonite: 5–8

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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