Pool Party - the "Stick" kind
In 1967, I arrive at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill.
As a freshman - you couldn't have a car! - you had to live in an on-campus
dorm. (What a lot of fun!!!)
(I'd had my drivers license since the day I turned 16 - armed with "Sunoco", "Standard Oil", and "Texaco" credit cards - thanks Dad!) :)
No car, on-campus dorm, not a lot of "discretionary" money, not a
candidate for the cover of "GQ" magazine -
The ratio of men to women that year was 2.5 men to 1 woman.
(Those lucky "chicks"!)
So, not much chance of a meaningful, relationship with a member of
the opposite sex!!
What's a Po', lonely boy to do!?!
Study - WHAT??!!
Study - are you serious!!?
This is "College" - we're supposed to "Party Hardy"!!!
(We're college, students - we can do anything!) :)
"Rossi" has to find something to "waste" his time on -
WAIT!!!! - I didn't mean "waste"! -
Occupy!!! (He, he!!)
First - "Chess" (Boy, am I lonely!!!)
Got fairly good, though!
(The longest "end-game" I was in was about 2 1/2 hours - my opponent
had 5 pieces left - I had 4 - total game time: about 5 1/2 hours -
guess who won??!!) :)
What shall our "hero" do next??
(Study??? - of course not!)
What does our "hapless" hero, stumble into???
OMG!! - "POOL"!!!
(I can hear the "Angel-trumpets" going off! - the only thing is -
I think their message was - "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!!)
I thought the message was - "go for it", "Rock n' Roll", "shrewd career
Has our "hero" made a terrible, mistake??
We shall see!!!
Well, our "hero" starts shooting pool -
(not much experience growing up)
I wasn't very good.
However, I resorted to the same thing, that I did with "Chess" -
play a lot and read some books.
(See - I was "hitting the books"!!) :)
Quite often, I'd shoot pool for 8+ hours straight!
(Talk about "Studying"! - "So There"!! - naysayers!) :)
(Those are always fun!! - NOT!!)
I've got a 8:30 am class.
I'm on the way to class, early - going to stop at the Student Union and
get a cup of coffee.
I decide to look in the "Wreck" room and see if anybodys shooting pool.
(Shrewd career move - He, he, he!!!) :)
Yes, one of my friends is there - it's early - plenty of time for 1 game!
One game of pool, turns into more games.
More pool players show up - off we go!
In the evening, 2 of our friends come in and tell us that there's a "big
money" game going on between 2 guys that we all know -
downtown, Carbondale - at the "Minnesota Fats" pool hall!
We had seen these 2 people in action - they're idea of "fun" was
3 and 4 rail bank, single-pocket! - 100 dollars a shot!!
So, there's 7 or 8 of us we decide to go and watch.
(Good to see the "masters" at work!!)
As we're walking through the campus - I happen to look up and I see
a row of lights in a classroom.
It's my English 102, mid-term!!!
(Yeah, "Shrewd career move"!)
(Hey, I resemble that remark!!!)
Needless to say - by the time we got there - the game was over!
(Note: these two "pool shooters" were friends)
Oh well!!! :)
The end result - I flunked English 102 and Algebra 102 -
a "C" in 2 other courses - a "D" in another.
(My parents were "pleased"!)
(At least, I didn't "flunk out"!!!)
The important thing is -
I got better at "POOL"!!!
The most "balls" I ran was 54!
I told you it was a "shrewd career move"! :)
(I very, seriously think I could not, do that now)
Got through the rest of the year.
I had acquired a girl friend (not at "SIU") - Lombard, Ill.
Didn't have much time for "pool" after that!! :)
(Gee - I wonder why?!?)
She was my first wife.
The moral of the story is -
How do I know - it was an experience!!! )
One Saturday, I was at the Minnesota Fats, pool hall - just practicing -
who come's in - Minnesota Fats!!
We all recognized him - nice guy!!
He agreed to give us a demonstration.
What resulted, was shots form H*LL!
I think I understand why he's been portrayed in movies!!
Since, the theme is "pool" -
I think I'll go on.
We find our "hero" hanging around another "watering hole" -
in - "Fox Valley Mall"
This time the place is called "Fitzhugh's" -
Restaurant/Bar - big place.
The "Disco" era has finally died (Good riddance!!) :)
The owners decide to use the dance floor for other purposes.
Yes - pool tables!
Well, I haven't been playing much -
However, I got "addicted" once - it was too much to resist!
I'm very "rusty" -
However, I persevere (endeavor to persevere!)
(Sorry, I've got to start a new thread - I'll be back!)
So I start shooting pool.
More and more!
Fitzhughs had a very large bar.
Sort of oval shaped (don't remember, exactly the size) -
About, 10 to 12 ft. wide by 30 or 40 ft. long - open in the center for the
bartenders. (Who, by the way were VERY good!!)
It was easy to hang out in that place with your own group of friends
and not have interaction with other groups of people.
(Who frequented the place as much as you did - a lot!!)
I watched everybody - I'm good with "faces" - terrible with names!) :)
It's funny, you see people, don't really know them; but you're "put off"
by them!? Sort of an "aversion" - even "dislike"!
Even though you see them for a year or two!! (I know - STUPID!) :)
It's interesting how drastically things can change, when you find out
you have "common-ground"/mutual, interests!!! (YEAH!!!) :)
In college, we mostly played "rotation" (14-1) and "9-Ball", one on one.
In Fitzhughs, it was 8-Ball - mostly partners.
I started to play 8-Ball, with a partner.
I really, didn't care who my partner was - I just hoped they were a
better "shot" than I was! (I'm very "rusty" - OK - "Bad"!) :)
I start shooting with this person, as a partner (we'll call him "Don" -
names changed to protect the innocent!!!)
He's a better shot then I am!
(This is one of the people that I had an "aversion" to)
We start to get to know each other ("cocktails/"pool") -
We discover - we like each other!!! What!??!
What a surprise!!! :)
It turns out, I have this uncanny, skill - to take a shot; and if I miss -
(that happened a lot!)
The "Que" ball is left in a very, very bad place for our opponents!!!
I mean BAD!!!
(I was playing for "shape")
They take a shot, and miss.
Don "runs" the table!!! Ha, ha, ha!!! :)
We turned into VERY aggravating people to shoot pool with!
(By the way - you played with us: no "slop" - call everything -
"kisses", "banks", "combinations" ...!)
So, time moves on.
Don and I are shooting pool together A LOT!!!
When I would arrive at Fitzhughs; one of the first people I was looking
for was "Don"!!!
Not just as a "pool partner" - as a friend!
(My, how things can change!!!) :)
Usually, we'd sit and talk about all kinds of things - friends (his group of
friends, was now: part of my group of friends!), women - and other
"sports" (He, he!) work (Yeah - that 4 lettered word!), everything!
At this point: we didn't discuss pool much - we knew what we were
going to do!
Also, we'd sit and talk and have some "libations" - to get "relaxed" -
So, people get to know who we are.
"Hustlers"/"Sharks" start to show up.
Always - "How much do you want to play for"!
Don and I are are friends with the owners/managers/staff - they've
seen what we're doing.
We're instructed - NO MONEY, games!!
We, of course, concur!
(We're having fun!!)
We've both seen what can happen with money on the line! -
people can get VERY serious!!
Bottles, glasses, POOL CUES, and other implements of "pain"!
I don't think so!
This is (even though it has pool tables) - a friendly place - a family
place - all are welcome!
Watch your F...ing language!!!!!
If the children want to shoot (good boys and girls!) - let them! :)
Things have progressed.
It's been discovered that I have an "uncanny", skill to put the 8-Ball
in on the "break"!
Oh No!!! :)
I have somewhat "re-gained", my shot - got "stroke", "English", etc...
How demoralizing for our opponents! (He, he, he!)
Don and I are more "unpopular" then ever!!
(Remember, no "pool cues" were harmed, in the production of this story!)
Don't mean to "Beat a horse to death" -
However: let's get to the conclusion!
Our (Don and myself) favorite, evening was Friday.
Fitzhughs was PACKED!
4 or 5 people deep at the bar -
3 to 5 bartenders - still, hard to get some service!
We knew the bartenders!
One of us would show up before the other - not so concerned about
getting "primed" anymore.
Free pool - free drinks, awaited us!!! :)
You couldn't play for money - you could play for the "table" and "beverages"!
"Crop" - I've got 5 beers lined up!!! :)
(We gave them away to friends!! - there's more of those to come!!)
Sometimes, we'd hold the table all night!!
We were extremely, aggravating!!!
It seemed, people couldn't figure out what we were doing -
We were playing as a "TEAM"! :)
All we were concerned with was the end result - free pool and free beers!!
End of story! (For now!)
I think the next story will involve music/concerts, or maybe cars!
Happy Holidays! :)
As always -
(I've got to go and replace a window - Oh Boy!) :)
To this day, I consider "Don", to be one of my "true" friends!!
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