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09-11-2017, 01:21 PM

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Originally Posted by Black-Balled View Post
Which makes you and i inexoriably joined...you know i worked at westmont for years and then was with the crew that opened shirlington?

Though i am in the Doug Kelly camp.
I used work at the Champions in Silver Spring when Richard owned it. Before that, he owned Let's Play Games in Rockville. That's where Willie Mosconi put on an exhibition, and I was chosen to make the trick shot that he set up. What a memory! I still have the black-and-white autographed photo he gave me -- for FREE!


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09-11-2017, 01:22 PM

Check out Action Billiards in Winchester...a long haul, but decent room, soft drinks only. Chips tourney Friday night (9 ball), some minor action with a couple of strongish players.


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09-11-2017, 01:24 PM

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Originally Posted by West Point 1987 View Post
Check out Action Billiards in Winchester...a long haul, but decent room, soft drinks only. Chips tourney Friday night (9 ball), some minor action with a couple of strongish players.
I like the sound of that one. I think I know who the "strongish players" may be. This sounds like a GREAT option. Plus, this time of year driving there is just gorgeous. Nice drive.


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09-11-2017, 01:26 PM

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Originally Posted by JAM View Post
Thanks. I know Champions, I actually used to work for Richard Allen, Gary's dad. It is a wonderful pool room for sure!

I'm looking for more of a players' room, though, not a bar-type atmosphere. A place where railbirds like me can sit back and enjoy a few hours of some challenge matches, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.
Yep, I know what you mean. I go back to the days of Bennie's in Reisterstown (also known as Gentlemens Cue), as well as Bill and Billie's in Glen Burnie.

I still remember watching Geese mowing down the competition when they did a Maryland State tournament in both the above, especially if it was straight pool. He didn't waste any time shooting. He ran them out quickly.

All the best,
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09-11-2017, 01:38 PM

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Originally Posted by WildWing View Post
Yep, I know what you mean. I go back to the days of Bennie's in Reisterstown (also known as Gentlemens Cue), as well as Bill and Billie's in Glen Burnie.

I still remember watching Geese mowing down the competition when they did a Maryland State tournament in both the above, especially if it was straight pool. He didn't waste any time shooting. He ran them out quickly.

All the best,
WW
Ww, the old Bill & Billies ( Jack & Jills ) is where I came up and was my home room. Geese was awesome and funny as hell. I learned one pocket from him. The only real competition for Geese in the State tourney was my buddy Cigar Tom. Tom won it like 9 years in a row or something and he's told me Geese was always the only one he worried about . I remember Gentlemams when it was owned by Nick Frank ( also had Northpoint billiards and Top Hat - at the time, he is now passed ). Gentleman's was across the street from on of Barry Greenbergs rooms, I say one of because he lost several along with millions of dollars gambling . That name of that place was Greenies. Do you remember that place or him at all?
  
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09-11-2017, 01:53 PM

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Ww, the old Bill & Billies ( Jack & Jills ) is where I came up and was my home room. Geese was awesome and funny as hell. I learned one pocket from him. The only real competition for Geese in the State tourney was my buddy Cigar Tom. Tom won it like 9 years in a row or something and he's told me Geese was always the only one he worried about . I remember Gentlemams when it was owned by Nick Frank ( also had Northpoint billiards and Top Hat - at the time, he is now passed ). Gentleman's was across the street from on of Barry Greenbergs rooms, I say one of because he lost several along with millions of dollars gambling . That name of that place was Greenies. Do you remember that place or him at all?
I remember everything. If it was a nine ball tournament, Cigar Tom won most, if not all of them. Usually though, I recall it was Tom and Greg Riggie, son of Richard Riggie, in the finals. Tom always beat Greg, as good as Greg was. Greg did win one of those straight pool tournaments at Gentlemens, by beating Julius Cottman. I still remember Geese beating Ed Cecanes, who I believe owned Bill and Billies? I could be wrong. It was in the early 80s. Geese dispatched Ed in about 20 or 25 minutes, going to 125, I believe.

I only remember Gentlemens being owned by the guy named Bennie, think his last name was something like Hutt, but it did change hands a bit, beginning in the 80s, Favorite hangout by a lot of great players, including Cottman, Mike Sidel, Mike Sigel a bunch of times, and I believe, Bo Didley.

I also remember Barry Greenberg. Before he opened Greenies, he played at Gentlemens. You could always hear him yelling about something. Probably a fair, but not a great player. Was known to break a cue now and then. And that big nose of his? Let's put it this way, he didn't get that nose bobbing for apples. Think he was in a fight or two... Wonder if he's still around?

Ah, memories...

All the best,
WW
  
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09-11-2017, 02:51 PM

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I remember everything. If it was a nine ball tournament, Cigar Tom won most, if not all of them. Usually though, I recall it was Tom and Greg Riggie, son of Richard Riggie, in the finals. Tom always beat Greg, as good as Greg was. Greg did win one of those straight pool tournaments at Gentlemens, by beating Julius Cottman. I still remember Geese beating Ed Cecanes, who I believe owned Bill and Billies? I could be wrong. It was in the early 80s. Geese dispatched Ed in about 20 or 25 minutes, going to 125, I believe.

I only remember Gentlemens being owned by the guy named Bennie, think his last name was something like Hutt, but it did change hands a bit, beginning in the 80s, Favorite hangout by a lot of great players, including Cottman, Mike Sidel, Mike Sigel a bunch of times, and I believe, Bo Didley.

I also remember Barry Greenberg. Before he opened Greenies, he played at Gentlemens. You could always hear him yelling about something. Probably a fair, but not a great player. Was known to break a cue now and then. And that big nose of his? Let's put it this way, he didn't get that nose bobbing for apples. Think he was in a fight or two... Wonder if he's still around?

Ah, memories...

All the best,
WW
Yup, I knew Green Riggie too. It was after .... well... you know. He still had moments of absolute brilliance but holding a conversation was not possible. In Jack & Jills he wanted to play me a game of banks for a candy bar - seriously. He broke and ran 3 games outs. Then asked me for my shoes. Yeah the 80's were before my time. N Frank owned those three places in the 90's and on till his death, then his son Dana took over. DANA was killed in a robbery at Gentleman's. He was not one to back down and armed guys beat him to death so the story goes. Barry, I sure u are right. Not to mention H2o was the second most thing entering his nose. Don't Reem be exactlt, but he died 5 or a little more years ago - no details sorry. Unrelated, do you remember the laser cheat dice game scandal at greenies not too long before they closed??? Yes or no as some are still around!
  
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09-11-2017, 03:02 PM

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Yup, I knew Greg Riggie too. It was after .... well... you know. He still had moments of absolute brilliance but holding a conversation was not possible. In Jack & Jills he wanted to play me a game of banks for a candy bar - seriously. He broke and ran 3 games outs. Then asked me for my shoes. Yeah the 80's were before my time. N Frank owned those three places in the 90's and on till his death, then his son Dana took over. Dana was killed in a robbery at Gentleman's. He was not one to back down and armed guys beat him to death so the story goes. Barry, I sure you are right. Not to mention H2o was the second most thing entering his nose. Don't seem to be exact, but he died 5 or a little more years ago - no details sorry. Unrelated, do you remember the laser cheat dice game scandal at greenies not too long before they closed??? Yes or no as some are still around!
Yep, good memory you have. Greg was very talented, but shall we say, a bit unstable. I don't think he would ever have the class of his father Richard, either. But Greg had talent. To this day, one of the best bank shot players I've ever known. During one of the Maryland tournaments, I did ask Greg if he had good bank advice. He did. He said, for every bank you miss, try to remember why you missed it. In other words, build up a memory bank for those shots.

As to the laser cheat dice game scandal at Greenies, nope, no memory of that, but I'm not surprised. I was only at Greenies a few times, when Gentlemens cue went downhill.

Departing a bit from Jenny's question, but I'm sure these bring back memories to her as well.

All the best,
WW
  
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09-11-2017, 03:25 PM

Jammy sorry. Wild wing is right, but if anyone's likes to hear old stories I know it's you so don't be too mad lol 😊
  
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09-12-2017, 03:21 AM

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Jammy sorry. Wild wing is right, but if anyone's likes to hear old stories I know it's you so don't be too mad lol 😊
Don't be sorry. I love reading this kind of stuff. Reminds me of the gold old days on AzBilliards when we used to have fun. Thanks for sharing!


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09-12-2017, 03:24 AM

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I remember everything. If it was a nine ball tournament, Cigar Tom won most, if not all of them. Usually though, I recall it was Tom and Greg Riggie, son of Richard Riggie, in the finals. Tom always beat Greg, as good as Greg was. Greg did win one of those straight pool tournaments at Gentlemens, by beating Julius Cottman. I still remember Geese beating Ed Cecanes, who I believe owned Bill and Billies? I could be wrong. It was in the early 80s. Geese dispatched Ed in about 20 or 25 minutes, going to 125, I believe.

I only remember Gentlemens being owned by the guy named Bennie, think his last name was something like Hutt, but it did change hands a bit, beginning in the 80s, Favorite hangout by a lot of great players, including Cottman, Mike Sidel, Mike Sigel a bunch of times, and I believe, Bo Didley.

I also remember Barry Greenberg. Before he opened Greenies, he played at Gentlemens. You could always hear him yelling about something. Probably a fair, but not a great player. Was known to break a cue now and then. And that big nose of his? Let's put it this way, he didn't get that nose bobbing for apples. Think he was in a fight or two... Wonder if he's still around?

Ah, memories...

All the best,
WW
Geese won a couple Maryland State championships. In 1986, I ran the Maryland State as TD in Silver Spring at Champions, owned by Richard Allen. It was the year of the TCOM release, and Mike Sigel won it. Cigar Tom came kin second, and Teddy Bear Wilson came in third.

Did the owner of Greenies in Baltimore lost his pool room to another in a poker game? I think I remember that.

Oh, and don't ever throw coins with anybody who hails from Baltimore. They're the best. Keith got hustled with coin throwing when he first came to Maryland. I came too late to warn him. Nobody can beat the Baltimore coin throwers.


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09-12-2017, 04:08 AM

Well this is a crowd that might resonate to this well written piece from 12 years ago

**************

Essay
Missing the Cues
When a Funky Old Joint Vanishes, Something More Than Pool Is Lost

By Ted Gup
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page C01
I am in mourning. A scribbled note on the door says it all: "Poolroom Closed." I press my face against the glass. The room is dark, the tables gone -- auctioned off a few weeks ago, I am told. In the mailbox are what look to be two old bills. Nothing else remains of 20 years of Friday nights spent here in one of the few real pool halls anywhere near the nation's capital. The operative word is "real." Sure, there are those family-friendly billiard parlors, polished places with red-felt tables and marble floors where up-and-comers sip martinis, dates coo and bar mitzvah parties are welcomed.

Whatever that is, it's not a pool hall. For that you had to go to Silver Spring, to Champion Billiards on Georgia Avenue. Squeezed between Auto City Used Cars and Meineke Discount Mufflers, it was a true throwback, the sort of place the Music Man himself warned about. Across the street was the required pawn shop with its guitars and gold and guns. Next to it, like some wayward guardian angel protecting our blessed pool hall, was the bronze bust of a homeless man, the late Norman Lane, once dubbed the "mayor" of Silver Spring. It was a tribute to citizens for looking after him. In those days, Silver Spring was like that. So too was the pool hall. It was open to anyone, anytime.



Even in a blizzard, the lights would be on at Champion Billiards in Silver Spring. Now, though, the pool tables are gone and the lights are off for good. (Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post)

For much of its existence, it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even in a blizzard, its lights glowed warmly and you had a place to go. I don't remember a soul being turned away, though I do remember a few who muttered to themselves or went out back for a fix or a swig. Rogues and scalawags it had, but mostly just hardworking men who long ago chose the pleasure of each other's company and the click of ivory spheres about to fall off an earth of sheer green felt. It was all about the game.

Only some seven miles from Washington's corridors of power, it was incalculably far away, immune to its correctness and self-importance. It was one of the few places I knew in my 21 years in the capital where neither race nor class nor ambition meant a thing.

There were two kinds of rules to the hall: written and unwritten. Gambling was prohibited, which meant bills had to be neatly folded and left in a corner pocket or slipped palm to palm. Cursing was forbidden, and truth be told, was not much tolerated. We'd heard enough cursing outside not to want to track it in. And finally there was "no spitting," a carryover from the days of spittoons and rack boys. A little down in the mouth it might have been, but it was ours, and each of us had an interest in keeping it up. Sit on a rail, drop a live ash on the felt or talk trash and you would draw enough cross looks to know you were in the wrong place. On the outside door was a warning: "No one under the age of 18 permitted on these premises during normal school hours and after 10 P.M. unless accompanied by someone 25 or older." But our skill bore witness to our own misspent youths, and who were we to deny the next generation such pleasures? Besides, a real pool hall caters to the truant in each of us.

But it was the unwritten rules that made the hall a true sanctuary. Nobody talked about work, whether they had a job or not. It was a "No Whining Zone," a given that life was not always kind but that here at least we would not marinate in each other's misfortunes. There were no peacocks or pimps in broad brims. Vanity went elsewhere. Inside, a man's past and future counted for nothing, only the present and the number of balls sunk. It was all about the game. One soft-spoken guy always wore cardigans and reminded me of Mister Rogers. We knew he'd done time, but never dreamt of asking for details. That was the past, his past, not ours. It was all about the game. Even the bookie showed enough respect not to ply his trade inside. In nearly two decades, I never saw a fight, not so much as a scuffle.

Life stories, hard luck or otherwise, were off-limits. You learned enough about a person from his game to know whether his company was desired. Almost nobody had a last name. It wasn't as if any of us were likely to hook up in the world of sunlight. Fat Mike, a chef turned shooter, was almost balletic when he took to the tables. "Goose" and "Tom-Tom" were minor deities. Before them, the rest of us parted and silently took in the majesty of their skill.

First names all, except for Mr. Knox. He was true royalty. I never knew his first name, but he was as honorable a gentleman as I shall know, a man who handled a cue with grace, and lived and died the same way. When cancer was eating him up, he allowed a few tears to run down his cheeks, talking about those he would miss most. He apologized, but for him, the ban on hard-luck talk had been waived. He wasn't looking for pity, just a way to make the best of what we players called "a bad leave." I think he worked as a custodian or in maintenance.

Immigrants, too, found their way here, from Koreans to Salvadorans. Political correctness skipped us by as did all the righteous rectitude of Washington, but we did right by each other. A buddy tells me he thinks Reggie, a black, helped sponsor Lee, a Korean, for citizenship. I don't remember any ramp for the disabled but I remember some killer shots made from wheelchairs. A guy with a shriveled arm managed to persuade me to spot him a couple of balls to even out the odds. He destroyed me. After that I never underestimated him again. The only handicap in the pool room was your own.

Women were few. I once brought my wife, emphasis on "once." But in recent years more spouses showed up and some brought their own cues and solid games and taught the aging bulls about gender and humility. Grizzled old men and kids barely old enough to shave gave the rest of us lessons in the perils of ageism. An open mind often came at the expense of an empty wallet. Fifty bucks was a big loss.

We had our music and we had our food -- a hot dog off the spit, a handful of salty cashews, a Kit-Kat from the machine. It wasn't gourmet but at 2 in the morning it kept you going. It was all about the game. The jukebox favored Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love" and Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."

My game is straight pool, an old man's game, the one they played in the 1961 flick "The Hustler" with upstart Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, not the sequel where a bespectacled Newman tutors a clownish and cue-twirling Tom Cruise. There the game was nine-ball.

My standing game was with Ira. One night when we were playing straight to 50, I broke and left him at the far rail without a prayer of a shot -- except he found one and proceeded to run one rack after another, all the way up to 50 balls. I never even got out of my chair, except to rack the balls for him. On that one night, there was not a player in the cosmos who could have beaten him. That feat alone should have preserved the pool hall forever. I imagined a brass plaque outside speaking to his 50-ball run the night of whenever it was -- time was something we quickly lost track of, but never the number of balls. It was a universe unto itself, a place of blue chalk and white talc, of two-piece ebony and ivory cues and oak racks. No sweeter sound there was than that of the respectful tap-tap-tapping made by the butt of a cue upon the floor as an opponent paid homage to a shot well made. It was all about the game.

The poet W.S. Merwin, writing about a pool hall, said the players were "safe in its ring of dusty light where the real dark can never come." Well, "the real dark" came a few weeks ago. Some blamed Montgomery County's smoking ban. I don't know. Five minutes away, Galaxy Billiards Cafe had opened its doors. Thirty-five big TVs outnumbered the pool tables. Short of a pencil and paper, there's no way even to keep score -- no string of beads, no counters. At the far end of each pool table is a "service button." Press it and a waitress comes running. I kid you not.

Five years ago I moved to Cleveland, but before I did I made a list of what I would miss about Washington. The pool hall was near the top of that list. Funny how little things figure large when saying goodbye. On each of my returns to Washington, Ira and I met at the hall for a night of straight pool. I would come through the door after an absence of months and get the same familiar nod from the guys as if I had been there just the night before. No questions asked. It was all about the game. I wonder now what has become of them. It was a brotherhood that fell to a smoking ban, to gentrification, maybe to time itself.

It's true, the place reeked of cigarettes. Smoke wreathed upward and formed a stationary cloud overhead, and saturated my mustache so that next morning my wife would still recognize the smell of the pool hall. But for me, it was the air of Washington itself that had begun to grow stale and unbreathable, a city of fluted columns and sometimes towering egos, of brass-knuckle arguments and invisible walls that divided one city into many. It was becoming what those who had never set foot in my pool hall doubtless imagined it to be -- vulgar, combative, full of hustlers. I came to the pool hall to escape all that and always I found there a breath of fresh air. Really, it had nothing to do with the game.

Ted Gup, author of "The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA," is a professor of journalism at Case Western Reserve University. He can be reached at tedgup@att.net.


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09-12-2017, 04:15 AM

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Originally Posted by mikepage View Post
Well this is a crowd that might resonate to this well written piece from 12 years ago

**************

Essay
Missing the Cues
When a Funky Old Joint Vanishes, Something More Than Pool Is Lost

By Ted Gup
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page C01
I am in mourning. A scribbled note on the door says it all: "Poolroom Closed." I press my face against the glass. The room is dark, the tables gone -- auctioned off a few weeks ago, I am told. In the mailbox are what look to be two old bills. Nothing else remains of 20 years of Friday nights spent here in one of the few real pool halls anywhere near the nation's capital. The operative word is "real." Sure, there are those family-friendly billiard parlors, polished places with red-felt tables and marble floors where up-and-comers sip martinis, dates coo and bar mitzvah parties are welcomed.

Whatever that is, it's not a pool hall. For that you had to go to Silver Spring, to Champion Billiards on Georgia Avenue. Squeezed between Auto City Used Cars and Meineke Discount Mufflers, it was a true throwback, the sort of place the Music Man himself warned about. Across the street was the required pawn shop with its guitars and gold and guns. Next to it, like some wayward guardian angel protecting our blessed pool hall, was the bronze bust of a homeless man, the late Norman Lane, once dubbed the "mayor" of Silver Spring. It was a tribute to citizens for looking after him. In those days, Silver Spring was like that. So too was the pool hall. It was open to anyone, anytime.



Even in a blizzard, the lights would be on at Champion Billiards in Silver Spring. Now, though, the pool tables are gone and the lights are off for good. (Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post)

For much of its existence, it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even in a blizzard, its lights glowed warmly and you had a place to go. I don't remember a soul being turned away, though I do remember a few who muttered to themselves or went out back for a fix or a swig. Rogues and scalawags it had, but mostly just hardworking men who long ago chose the pleasure of each other's company and the click of ivory spheres about to fall off an earth of sheer green felt. It was all about the game.

Only some seven miles from Washington's corridors of power, it was incalculably far away, immune to its correctness and self-importance. It was one of the few places I knew in my 21 years in the capital where neither race nor class nor ambition meant a thing.

There were two kinds of rules to the hall: written and unwritten. Gambling was prohibited, which meant bills had to be neatly folded and left in a corner pocket or slipped palm to palm. Cursing was forbidden, and truth be told, was not much tolerated. We'd heard enough cursing outside not to want to track it in. And finally there was "no spitting," a carryover from the days of spittoons and rack boys. A little down in the mouth it might have been, but it was ours, and each of us had an interest in keeping it up. Sit on a rail, drop a live ash on the felt or talk trash and you would draw enough cross looks to know you were in the wrong place. On the outside door was a warning: "No one under the age of 18 permitted on these premises during normal school hours and after 10 P.M. unless accompanied by someone 25 or older." But our skill bore witness to our own misspent youths, and who were we to deny the next generation such pleasures? Besides, a real pool hall caters to the truant in each of us.

But it was the unwritten rules that made the hall a true sanctuary. Nobody talked about work, whether they had a job or not. It was a "No Whining Zone," a given that life was not always kind but that here at least we would not marinate in each other's misfortunes. There were no peacocks or pimps in broad brims. Vanity went elsewhere. Inside, a man's past and future counted for nothing, only the present and the number of balls sunk. It was all about the game. One soft-spoken guy always wore cardigans and reminded me of Mister Rogers. We knew he'd done time, but never dreamt of asking for details. That was the past, his past, not ours. It was all about the game. Even the bookie showed enough respect not to ply his trade inside. In nearly two decades, I never saw a fight, not so much as a scuffle.

Life stories, hard luck or otherwise, were off-limits. You learned enough about a person from his game to know whether his company was desired. Almost nobody had a last name. It wasn't as if any of us were likely to hook up in the world of sunlight. Fat Mike, a chef turned shooter, was almost balletic when he took to the tables. "Goose" and "Tom-Tom" were minor deities. Before them, the rest of us parted and silently took in the majesty of their skill.

First names all, except for Mr. Knox. He was true royalty. I never knew his first name, but he was as honorable a gentleman as I shall know, a man who handled a cue with grace, and lived and died the same way. When cancer was eating him up, he allowed a few tears to run down his cheeks, talking about those he would miss most. He apologized, but for him, the ban on hard-luck talk had been waived. He wasn't looking for pity, just a way to make the best of what we players called "a bad leave." I think he worked as a custodian or in maintenance.

Immigrants, too, found their way here, from Koreans to Salvadorans. Political correctness skipped us by as did all the righteous rectitude of Washington, but we did right by each other. A buddy tells me he thinks Reggie, a black, helped sponsor Lee, a Korean, for citizenship. I don't remember any ramp for the disabled but I remember some killer shots made from wheelchairs. A guy with a shriveled arm managed to persuade me to spot him a couple of balls to even out the odds. He destroyed me. After that I never underestimated him again. The only handicap in the pool room was your own.

Women were few. I once brought my wife, emphasis on "once." But in recent years more spouses showed up and some brought their own cues and solid games and taught the aging bulls about gender and humility. Grizzled old men and kids barely old enough to shave gave the rest of us lessons in the perils of ageism. An open mind often came at the expense of an empty wallet. Fifty bucks was a big loss.

We had our music and we had our food -- a hot dog off the spit, a handful of salty cashews, a Kit-Kat from the machine. It wasn't gourmet but at 2 in the morning it kept you going. It was all about the game. The jukebox favored Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love" and Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."

My game is straight pool, an old man's game, the one they played in the 1961 flick "The Hustler" with upstart Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, not the sequel where a bespectacled Newman tutors a clownish and cue-twirling Tom Cruise. There the game was nine-ball.

My standing game was with Ira. One night when we were playing straight to 50, I broke and left him at the far rail without a prayer of a shot -- except he found one and proceeded to run one rack after another, all the way up to 50 balls. I never even got out of my chair, except to rack the balls for him. On that one night, there was not a player in the cosmos who could have beaten him. That feat alone should have preserved the pool hall forever. I imagined a brass plaque outside speaking to his 50-ball run the night of whenever it was -- time was something we quickly lost track of, but never the number of balls. It was a universe unto itself, a place of blue chalk and white talc, of two-piece ebony and ivory cues and oak racks. No sweeter sound there was than that of the respectful tap-tap-tapping made by the butt of a cue upon the floor as an opponent paid homage to a shot well made. It was all about the game.

The poet W.S. Merwin, writing about a pool hall, said the players were "safe in its ring of dusty light where the real dark can never come." Well, "the real dark" came a few weeks ago. Some blamed Montgomery County's smoking ban. I don't know. Five minutes away, Galaxy Billiards Cafe had opened its doors. Thirty-five big TVs outnumbered the pool tables. Short of a pencil and paper, there's no way even to keep score -- no string of beads, no counters. At the far end of each pool table is a "service button." Press it and a waitress comes running. I kid you not.

Five years ago I moved to Cleveland, but before I did I made a list of what I would miss about Washington. The pool hall was near the top of that list. Funny how little things figure large when saying goodbye. On each of my returns to Washington, Ira and I met at the hall for a night of straight pool. I would come through the door after an absence of months and get the same familiar nod from the guys as if I had been there just the night before. No questions asked. It was all about the game. I wonder now what has become of them. It was a brotherhood that fell to a smoking ban, to gentrification, maybe to time itself.

It's true, the place reeked of cigarettes. Smoke wreathed upward and formed a stationary cloud overhead, and saturated my mustache so that next morning my wife would still recognize the smell of the pool hall. But for me, it was the air of Washington itself that had begun to grow stale and unbreathable, a city of fluted columns and sometimes towering egos, of brass-knuckle arguments and invisible walls that divided one city into many. It was becoming what those who had never set foot in my pool hall doubtless imagined it to be -- vulgar, combative, full of hustlers. I came to the pool hall to escape all that and always I found there a breath of fresh air. Really, it had nothing to do with the game.

Ted Gup, author of "The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA," is a professor of journalism at Case Western Reserve University. He can be reached at tedgup@att.net.
What a cool find! Thank you, Mike! This is solid gold pool right here. Others from this era in my neck of the woods will really enjoy this read.

Korean Lee is still around, haven't seen Fat Mike in a long while, and Tom-Tom is our very own Tom Wirth, the author and one-pocket pro. Of course, it's Geese, not Goose.

What a great trip down memory lane! Thanks again!


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09-12-2017, 04:22 AM

Here's a collage that hung in Champion Billiards in Silver Spring from the '80s era.
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09-12-2017, 05:38 AM

Hey Jam. I know a lost of those people in the pic.
Can you name them all? And is it possible that one
of them is 'Moskie' ? Lenard Moskiwitzs ( spell check ) ?
Great pic!
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