Ames Billiards

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
I played straight pool in Ames’ about a year before the wrecking ball...didn’t know anybody...
...but it was the first time I saw Johnny Ervolino...he was playing 3-cushion...I remembered the voice...
...put a name to it later....by that time I was shaving.
....old black man in the circular cage where you payed...he’d heard all the stories about needing credit...
..he kept saying “Aint no pity in the City, ain’t no pity in the City.”

anybody remember the mezzanine?
 

Fatboy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.
Keep going!!!

Such a great story!!

best
Fatboy
 

Tobermory

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Okay, "PT 109" and "Fatboy," since you asked:

Yes, there was a balcony or mezzanine, but it was completely dark when my friend and I were there.

To finish up the evening, which must have been around 11 by the end of our time at Ames, I shall continue. We had still not seen any NYC pool, only billiards. We mentioned this to someone at Ames, and we received the information that, if we really wanted to see pool, we needed to go to "The Golden Cue" (?) on Queens Boulevard (?). Somehow, and I'm afraid that I have no memory of how we got there or how we got back to the Port Authority, my friend and I got ourselves to Queens and found the pool room. It was jammed, but we didn't see any memorable pool. All we got was to listen to bargaining among players, performed in those days considerably more quietly than it is now conducted.

So, in a matter of about eight hours, my friend and I had found Ames and seen a billiards match, and then gotten ourselves to Queens to listen in on financial negotiations, and back to the Port Authority, from where we returned to the university and slept in our own beds that night.

I understand that there are people who go to New York for the first time with the intention of seeing the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, and Radio City Hall. We were not two of them, but we had seen what we had come for.
 

lfigueroa

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.

Nice.

Lou Figueroa
 

MurrayNevada

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
We mentioned this to someone at Ames, and we received the information that, if we really wanted to see pool, we needed to go to "The Golden Cue" (?) on Queens Boulevard (?). Somehow, and I'm afraid that I have no memory of how we got there or how we got back to the Port Authority, my friend and I got ourselves to Queens and found the pool room.
You received very good advice about the Golden Cue in Queens. And you also survived two trips through the Port Authority. All together a very good night. Thanks for sharing.
 

maha

from way back when
Silver Member
golden cue had plenty of okay action. lots of top players especially the straight pool players hung out there. that i where you would find, margo, euphemia,mizerak,hopkins,martin,ervolino, and others playing 200 points of straight pool for ten bucks or so. running a hundred at a time. george balabuska would be there frequently.
but the real action was the bad players playing the not so bad players for decent money. as it is everywhere in action joints.
the place most full of hustlers was 7,11.
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
Okay, "PT 109" and "Fatboy," since you asked:

Yes, there was a balcony or mezzanine, but it was completely dark when my friend and I were there.

To finish up the evening, which must have been around 11 by the end of our time at Ames, I shall continue. We had still not seen any NYC pool, only billiards. We mentioned this to someone at Ames, and we received the information that, if we really wanted to see pool, we needed to go to "The Golden Cue" (?) on Queens Boulevard (?). Somehow, and I'm afraid that I have no memory of how we got there or how we got back to the Port Authority, my friend and I got ourselves to Queens and found the pool room. It was jammed, but we didn't see any memorable pool. All we got was to listen to bargaining among players, performed in those days considerably more quietly than it is now conducted.

So, in a matter of about eight hours, my friend and I had found Ames and seen a billiards match, and then gotten ourselves to Queens to listen in on financial negotiations, and back to the Port Authority, from where we returned to the university and slept in our own beds that night.

I understand that there are people who go to New York for the first time with the intention of seeing the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, and Radio City Hall. We were not two of them, but we had seen what we had come for.
Thanx Tobermory....I had mentioned the second floor a couple times over the years...and was told it wasn’t there.
Well, I played straight pool up there, and watched Johnny Ervolino play 3-cushion, looking almost straight down at him.
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
golden cue had plenty of okay action. lots of top players especially the straight pool players hung out there. that i where you would find, margo, euphemia,mizerak,hopkins,martin,ervolino, and others playing 200 points of straight pool for ten bucks or so. running a hundred at a time. george balabuska would be there frequently.
but the real action was the bad players playing the not so bad players for decent money. as it is everywhere in action joints.
the place most full of hustlers was 7,11.
Yeah, I was going to mention the 7-11...it was an action factory....and walking distance from Ames.
 

AtLarge

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
So I guess the LOL Times Square Comedy Club is on the first floor at that 711 address now. There probably were a lot of humorous goings-on there in the 60's, too.
 

middleofnowhere

Registered
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.
Maybe I'm lazy but what is the name you were trying not to say?
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.
You were watching Jimmy Catttrano play Art Rubin, the best of the young guard (in Three Cushion) versus the long time best money player in NYC. They both played a lot at Julians Billiard Academy up in the Bronx. If I remember correctly George Mikula was the top dog at Julians. They used to play Three Cushion there in private glassed-in rooms.

Nice of you to mention the Cincy scene since I spent a year of my mispent youth tagging along there (1965-6). Maybe you were around then too, although I don't remember Whitey ever being there while I was hanging out in Mergards every night until they closed at 2 AM. After all I had to be at work by 8:30, lol. Clem was a great One Pocket player and considered second only to Rags Fitzpatrick in his heyday (the 1950's). He taught Joey the game and Joey became a top ten One Pocket player who also played jam up 9-Ball and Banks, but his son Gary took the family Bank Pool to a whole new level - Taylor speed!. Tom Smith was legendary around the Midwest back then. He was still actively hustling pool well into his 80's and maybe beyond. He looked 25-30 years younger than his true age. He was there at the Dayton tournaments in the early 1970's, mostly betting on the side. Tom was a tall healthy looking man and over 90 years old. I had the occasion to sit next to him at the lunch counter in Forest Park Billiards, where the tournament was being held. I was a young wannabee in awe of this man who had made his living hustling pool for six decades (he actually never took up the game until he was in his early 30's). I had the audacity to ask him what he attributed his longevity to and he looked me in the eye, took a bite of his pie and said, "Moderation in all things." Wise words that I never forgot. Thanks for mentioning him.
 
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jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Okay, "PT 109" and "Fatboy," since you asked:

Yes, there was a balcony or mezzanine, but it was completely dark when my friend and I were there.

To finish up the evening, which must have been around 11 by the end of our time at Ames, I shall continue. We had still not seen any NYC pool, only billiards. We mentioned this to someone at Ames, and we received the information that, if we really wanted to see pool, we needed to go to "The Golden Cue" (?) on Queens Boulevard (?). Somehow, and I'm afraid that I have no memory of how we got there or how we got back to the Port Authority, my friend and I got ourselves to Queens and found the pool room. It was jammed, but we didn't see any memorable pool. All we got was to listen to bargaining among players, performed in those days considerably more quietly than it is now conducted.

So, in a matter of about eight hours, my friend and I had found Ames and seen a billiards match, and then gotten ourselves to Queens to listen in on financial negotiations, and back to the Port Authority, from where we returned to the university and slept in our own beds that night.

I understand that there are people who go to New York for the first time with the intention of seeing the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, and Radio City Hall. We were not two of them, but we had seen what we had come for.
The Golden Cue in Queens is where many top players (Miz, Hopkins, Margo, Martin, Eufemia, Colivita) hung out and played Straight Pool. Maha is right, they might play 150 points for $20 and the time. It was a way to practice, stay in stroke and get ready for the one or two big events a year. The real hustlers (not to say that Hopkins and Ervolino weren't in that category too) spent most of their time at 7/11 or Guys and Dolls on 50th and Broadway. The latter being my favorite room, since every self respecting road man would come in there if they made it to New York. Blackie, Ervolino, Jersey Red and Richie Ambrose were the top dogs and the players to beat, if you could. Within walking distance of these two was McGirr's Billiard Academy, Broadway Billiards and a couple of other smaller joints. These places were packed day and night and the moment you walked in with a cue you would be accosted by a couple (or more) guys asking if you wanted to play. I didn't need to travel far to find a game and make my donation to the New York Pool scene. A year of that and I came home to Ohio a much better player.
 
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Dead Money

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.

This is an incredible piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it with us!
 

jimmyco

NRA4Life
Gold Member
Silver Member
I haven't posted anything here for three or four years, but the different views of Jay Helfert, for whom I have much respect, and "Bavafongoul," whom I do not know, prompt me to reach into my memory bank. I can only tell you what I saw in Ames.

In September or October of 1965 I was a new graduate student at a school in New Jersey. Over dinner one evening an Indian student who enjoyed billiards mentioned to me that the pool room where "The Hustler" had been filmed was in NYC, only about an hour from where we were sitting by bus. We decided that when we had finished dinner we would board the bus and ride into the city. I had never been anywhere outside the Midwest. I still remember when the bus turned a corner in New Jersey and suddenly all of lighted Manhattan appeared before me. I will never forget the image. People on this forum may be able to identify what tunnel or turn or whatever it was that we came through or out of, but we had no preparation for what we saw, just all at once that spectacular vision.

At the Port Authority Terminal, I suppose we found a phone book and looked up Ames. I think we may have asked a policeman where Forty-Seven Street was. I mean, I represented the twenty-two-year-old experience of Cincinnati and my friend represented Bombay by way of London and the School of Economics there and probably thought, "Oh, look! A Bobbie. We can ask him where the pool room is.". All I can say is that I don't remember any rudeness or discourtesy from whomever it was we asked for directions.

Now, as green as I am about the Big City, I am not green about pool and billiards. Joey Spaeth, who was not an unkind man, once described me as "the kid with the million dollar stroke and the five-and-dime pair of eyes." I had seen Clem Metz in social interaction but never had seen him stroke a cue ball. (Look him up.) I had spent eight weeks one summer around Detroit Whitey when he had come to Cincinnati and had watched from a medium distance what that performance was like. I knew Tom Smith quite well. He was a Croatian gentleman who was what we would now call a "pool detective." He is immortalized in Walter Tevis's "The Hustler" in the scene after Fast Eddie has his thumbs broken and they heal. Eddie goes looking for someone who can play well so that he, Eddie, can see if he can potentially still play pool against a skilled player. The scene is in the novel but not in the movie. Tevis would have known Tom. So, when my friend and I found Ames and went upstairs, I knew what we were looking at from the billiards aspect.

The room was not a dump, but it was completely dark except for one billiard table. On two sides of that table were risers with people sitting on them. I would say that there were about forty gentlemen occupying those risers. There was no light on anywhere in the room except for that one billiard table. There were no other people in the room playing. The match was three-cushion billiards in sets of fifteen or twenty points. The contestants were as different from one another as could be. The one was a young man, in his early twenties, dressed in presentable golf clothes: slacks and a dark red Lacoste golf shirt. Younger people will have to understand that in those days, before the "Sixties," people showed self-respect in the way they presented themselves. He was very handsome. I learned later that his name was...well, I'll do the eighteenth century thing and give a false name with the same number of syllables. Let's say his name was "Jimmy Carruthers." That will be the same number of syllables for each name and the same pattern of accented syllables. I learned fifty-five years later that he is still alive and in Florida. His opponent was a man in his sixties. He was in businessman slacks and a dress shirt that was dazzlingly white --and so heavily starched and stiff-looking that you felt that you could hear it crackle when he stroked.

This little scene that my friend and I had walked in on lasted about three hours. During that time no one spoke above a whisper, and then only when one game had ended and another was about to begin. There was no interaction among the spectators during games. When a game came to an end, whichever player was to break in the next would go the head of the table and stand there waiting. On the risers during that interval a few people would move about and speak very quietly to one another. Sometimes you would see an envelope change hands. After a few moments of this activity, the player about to break would look around the risers at a few people . When he had received whatever nods or whatever signs he was looking for, he would bend over and play the break shot.

After three hours this all broke up. Everyone rose from the risers and started to talk to one another. Apparently they all knew one another, which one might not have guessed from the formality during the match.

I will leave you to judge whether there was any action at Ames.

Your gift of verbal imagery is quite well. Felt like I was there in the room with you.

Sure hope you stick around.
 

logical

apart of their 'semi public'
Silver Member
I suspect that the pic in the OP is a colorized B&W photo, not that it matters really.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

RickLafayette

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I suspect that the pic in the OP is a colorized B&W photo, not that it matters really.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
We had color photography in the early sixties, and before. I don't suspect that this photo was colored as there are too many colors in the photo. It looks a lot like a Kodak C-41 process.
 

logical

apart of their 'semi public'
Silver Member
We had color photography in the early sixties, and before. I don't suspect that this photo was colored as there are too many colors in the photo. It looks a lot like a Kodak C-41 process.
I think you are right, I saw a better copy on the net and it was described as color.
5b9b37131d962507a40b6b33ee58f0ca.jpg


Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

alstl

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think you are right, I saw a better copy on the net and it was described as color.
5b9b37131d962507a40b6b33ee58f0ca.jpg


Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
Looks like a a Ford Fairlane 500 - maybe 1961 model. I learned to drive in a 59 Plymouth Belvedere with bad ass tail fins.
 
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