When one of a kind beats a pair | NevadaAppeal.com

When one of a kind beats a pair

Winnie Canoro sits at a nickel slot machine at Slot World on Sunday afternoon. BRAD HORN Nevada Appeal

All the elements of a great American novel are alive and thriving in 73-year-old Winnie Canoro, including the perfect narrator to tell the story should the book ever be made into a movie.

Of course, that’s only if they could ever get her away from the video poker machines at Slot World long enough to make it.

Canoro is, in every way, authentic: a modern woman with classic ideals instilled from a different America, the simple, beautiful America of her memories.

She plays the slot machine in front of her with a speedy virtuosity. She doesn’t miss a beat of the conversation. In fact, she directs it, moves it around. She owns it.

“I don’t care for either Bush or Kerry,” she says, declaring herself disgusted enough by the current presidential race not to even vote. “I don’t get a good vibe from either one of those guys.”

“I liked Kennedy, Reagan, Roosevelt …” she names a few larger-than-life leaders. Then: “Eleanor Roosevelt gave the graduation speech for my high school,” she says, as though it just happened yesterday and the memories are that fresh in her mind.

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., she crossed paths with quite a few well-known American characters.

“Once we lived across the street from ‘Crazy’ Joey Gallo,” she remembers. “And Vic Damone was a year ahead of me in school.”

Canoro is a survivor. She’s had quadruple bypass surgery, a stroke and was recently diagnosed with diabetes. With changes to her diet, she’s been able to adjust, and refuses to give the disease even a timid foothold on her quality of life.

“I take 16 different medications,” she said with a dry, but incredulous humor.

Like anyone who’s sincere and wants you to know it, she often touches the top of your hand when she’s talking, as though swearing the truth.

The mother of five, she still lives with two of her daughters, Wendy and Linda, and three of her nine grandchildren.

“If I dyed my hair,” she says, smiling, “Forget it! I’d get all those young guys after me.”

Canoro and her family moved to Carson City a few years ago after coming to Tahoe on vacation.

“It was just so beautiful,” she said, hitting a full house and smiling as her credits double up. “So beautiful.”

Contact reporter Peter Thompson at pthompson@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.