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Do you remember your first pool hall? - 03-24-2020, 06:42 PM

I was talking with a friend today, a guy I've played with and against for almost 20 years now, and we got to reminiscing about the old haunts we used to play in and the stories of those places. Somewhere during our ramblings we got to our first pool hall.

So mine was an actual pool hall back in the mid-80's in south St. Louis, MO off a road called Mackenzie rd.

It was on the corner of an run-down strip mall across from a diner that advertised "Fresh Cow Brains!" I remember walking in there and thinking I'd really walked into a real pool hall, with it's dozen or so tables evenly mixed between bar boxes up front and the real 9 foot Gold Crowns towards the back of the room. And those Gold Crowns were all surrounded by those high-backed pool chairs with the notches in the arms for your cue to rest in, a small table between each pair of chairs with a lamp on each table. I had found the big time.

I was exclusively a bar box guy back then, so for about a year I played in the front on those battered bar boxes but they were all level for a wonder. One day I finally decided to check out the back and those big gorgeous GCs, which is when my pool story really began.

The walk to the back was dark, even during the day. It was about twenty paces or so past the long bar that didn't serve alcohol and then you were in GC land as I used to think of it. Back there were the same half dozen or so guys shooting games for cash. Usually it was four or five older guys (I'm probably as old now as some of those guys were then) and a couple younger guys, maybe in their mid-thirties. I quickly found out that to play a game with these guys it cost money. And if you couldn't play their speed, they'd run you out of there pretty quick, with empty pockets.

It took me about two years to find a good enough game to hang out back there, and another two years before I was decent enough to have my own chair. most of these guys had a chair they liked, or a chair that everyone thought of as that guy's chair. One day I guess I'd earned one.

It turned out that several of these guys were gamblers and hustlers. Shocker, I know. What I did know is that they all were better players than I was, and I had an obsession to learn how to play better. So I paid for my lessons $5 at a time, and when I ran out of money, I'd just sit and watch these guys play and talk smack to each other. And it was from that place on those tables, with those fine men/bastards that I learned to play pool.

So anyway, I was just curious . . . do any of you guys/girls have any stories or memories about the bar/pool hall/whatever you ever really thought of as the birthplace of your love affair with pool?
  
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03-24-2020, 07:07 PM

I still go to the first pool hall I ever went to, some 38 years ago. Crazy
  
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03-24-2020, 07:22 PM

Mine was a tavern ("Billy's Tavern") in Flatonia, TX...me and another delinquent would leave campus in middle school at lunch to play 8 ball on an ancient 5X10 Brunswick (they had two) for 15 cents a game. That place only had elderly folks playing dominos and drinking beer in the middle of the day. It's long, long gone now.

This isn't Billy's, but a table at a friend's house, around the same time. I'm 12 in this pic.
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03-24-2020, 07:30 PM

Crockett Texas 1960. 14 years old. Pool and domino room. Four Brunswick tables. Used a 15 ounce house cue without bumper. Tape around the butt.


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a couple - 03-24-2020, 07:40 PM

The first was a cavern underneath one of the grand old buildings at LSU BR. High ceiling, damp concrete and mortar, long and narrow as a hall should be. Ten foot tables with heavy leather pockets that would just give a deep thud when a ball was slammed into them. You would call for the "rack boy", an elderly black man in probably his seventies, after every game. The game was ten or fifteen cents, high rollers gave a quarter and didn't expect change. My first few trips there I was thirteen or fourteen but I was big for my age and nobody said anything, some of the LSU freshmen looked younger than I did. I just went there a couple of times. I can no longer remember where it was at, seems like you had to be a member of a fraternity or be a friend of a member but I may be mistaken. Wish I knew exactly where it was. Sometimes it seems like it might have been on Chimes St, sometimes that seems wrong.

My first "home" hall was Shoppers Pool Hall on Plank Road. It was old and ratty, the roof wasn't fixable and pans had to come come out to protect the tables when it rained much. However, the people running it for Lambert, the same one that built Greenway, were very tolerant as long as my money was green! A few managers, I believe the last was a lady. I had developed a fondness for beer and she might have felt I couldn't afford it or maybe she had a thing for young guys. Either way, some nights I bought a dozen rounds and was given a half dozen more!

You didn't mess with the lady. It was tried a few times including by a group that was going to come in and take over. Some big ol' boys. Shoppers was long and deep too, the counter was three-quarter of the way to the back wall. For some reason these idiots had picked a busy time, maybe a Saturday afternoon. Six or eight of them. When they started explaining to the lady how the place was going to be ran their loud voices attracted attention. About twenty regulars ambled up and gathered around them. What we lacked in size compared to these guys the house cues most of us still carried more than made up for. Those were some pretty heavy old cues! They went from gonna take over the place to wondering if they could make it back to the front door.

Later, while I was still a minor, Jessie bought the equipment, leased the building space from Lambert. He could tell funny stories for hours, was an old retired oilfield roughneck and strong as a bull. The LSU arm wrestling club came to give him a try one day. He beat them all back to back, some twice. He did admit his arm was a little sore the next day.

He let me and my friends buy all the beer we wanted. I'm sure I was pointed out to him as a valued customer when he bought the place so he too never asked my age. He did invite me to a youth pool hall he opened about twenty miles down the road so I suspect he had his suspicions!

Never gambled for more than beer in Shoppers even after I would spend a couple hours a day there warming up then gamble for twenty and fifty a game, rare fortunate occasions a hundred a game, in other places. Greenway had a little class back then, might have been the nicest pool hall in town, definitely the nicest on the blue collar side of town but it never felt like home. Shoppers was home.

Life took me down the road a few years. When I came back Jessie and Shoppers were both gone, neither to ever be seen again. Fifty years or so later I still miss them both sometimes.

Hu
  
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03-24-2020, 07:47 PM

Ames Billiards ....summer of 1961........2nd floor up on W. 44th Street Times Square.

It was a glorious time for a teenager. I had to go with my stepdad or someone over 18 yrs.
NYC was strict about being 16 yrs old or older to be in a pool hall alone. By the summer of
‘62, it became my regular venue after turning 16. Sometimes I’d just go & watch the action.
It was exactly as portrayed in “The Hustler” and it was a huge loft filled with 9’ and 10’ tables.


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03-24-2020, 08:10 PM

First Pool was at Boys Club of America in Miami, Florida. They has two junky tables, crappy Cues, we did have chalk.

Pool Bug bit me hard,year was like 1953, 0r 1954ish.


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03-24-2020, 08:10 PM

Lived on Indian Rocks Beach in FLA most of my teenage/ young adult life. Largo is just over the bridge, Fast Johnny's Pool Hall. All GC3's. from early 90's it was pretty darn cool.

TFT
  
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03-24-2020, 08:20 PM

1971...Gunnison Colorado. There was a pool hall on Main St., across from the W Cafe. They had 4 9' Gandy tables. It only lasted a couple of years.

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03-24-2020, 08:28 PM

Boulder Billiards in Tulsa, Ok. It was a basement joint that dated from the 40's iirc. It was run by Tulsa legend Randy "Fat Randy" Wallace. Place was awesome. I still miss it.
  
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03-24-2020, 08:34 PM

Texas by Tekas on hwy 80 it was clean and had old tables
not much action,but a few of us high schoolersthought we were livin large

I had a couple of the most remarkable stories you ever heard of occur at this place

it wasn't long until we relocated to the Cotton Bowling palace and hada real actionpool room

Cornbread,Shorty, Billy stroud,Alfie Taylor,Jack taylor, Vernon Litton. Billy t Dyre, RD Matthews

were just a fewincluding Titanic thompson ,Tommy blanton, Jack "oak cliff shorty"Potter

Has anyone heard from Billy stroud lately?


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03-24-2020, 09:02 PM

Lester's Billiard Parlour - New Britain, CT. Some good memories


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03-24-2020, 09:17 PM

You would have to define a "hall". But, to be dead sure, Beechmont Billiards, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  
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03-24-2020, 09:33 PM

Frank Moratti's four table room on Mississippi Avenue in Atlantic City. 1954--got robbed by the local likes of BoBo, Lovey Dovey, Doherty for several years. Watched many a fine hustler come down from Philly (Nicki Vacci, Peter Rabbit). There was Bridgeton Herbby who loved betting turf horses as well. Snooks Perlstein a local straight pool champ.

Quite an education and lifetime love for the game.Remember on more than one occasion my mother, God rest her soul, pulling me out of the room by the ear. Oh the memories.


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03-24-2020, 09:36 PM

olymapia café, Astoria, on Steinway st. 15 or so blocks from the now famous Steinway billiards. not a players room, a weekend spot.


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