And the legend of the pool-shark lives on, you could say!
My husband, Guy and I attended a BBQ last Saturday when we noticed small bean bags being thrown across the lawn. Guy was asked by his sister if he was going to play the bean-bag toss game. Sort of like lawn darts but apparently far safer. Guy joked that no one would want to team up with him.
“You sound just like Dad!”
Guy’s Dad passed away several years ago.
“No, Dad would say no one would want to play against him.”
“Oh, you’re right! That’s what Dad always would say. Because they would lose!” And there was a lot of laughter.
But, it was true. My father-in-law excelled at many things; bowling, card playing and shooting pool, in particular. But, it was not well known to all about his talent in pool halls.
Years ago, Guy wanted to have some fun with his Dad; just the two of them. Guy wasn’t much of a bowler so he thought he’d take his Dad out to play pool. Something that he himself was pretty inexperienced at playing. He figured they’d be on equal ground. They went to a pool hall in West Windsor where the pool tables were large. Actually, they were for playing snooker. 6’ by 12’ tables. A bit of a rough place but Guy wanted to experience playing snooker.
The first two games progressed slowly, with very close scores. The third game was running along much the same. Until the last 8 balls were on the table.
It was my father-in-law’s turn to shoot. He made a bank shot the length of the table and sunk the ball. Meaning the ball rolled almost 24 feet before falling into the pocket he called. Then, he proceeded to do the same with each of the remaining balls.
“What was that? What did you just do?”, Guy asked him, astonished.
“Well, you know…”
“No, I don’t know. What just happened there?”
“Well, when I was growing up, if I didn’t shoot pool, I didn’t eat!”
Now, Guy’s Dad was in his 60’s at that time. He hadn’t played pool for over 20 years. But, his mind was sharp and the muscle memory in his hands and arms was still there for him to pull it off! He told Guy he used to play at the Knights of Columbus hall in Tecumseh but no one wanted to play with him there. You see, it cost one dollar to play a game at the K of C. And, the winner would keep the dollar bill. That was back when there were dollar bills, not loonies! Well, the older men would come into the place, wanting to play, but with just a few dollars in their pockets. And, if they played against my father-in-law, they’d always lose their money. Quickly. It didn’t take long before he was avoided there.
Well, hearing that story, Guy knew what he had to do. He signed himself and his Dad up for a league at Johnny Shotz, a really nice bar with fine pool tables. And, guess what happened? People would stand around the pool table to watch Guy’s Dad play! He lacked the finesse of a polished player and that alone made it quite remarkable that he could always sink the ball- the hard way- by making bank shots, with choppy movements of his arm and pool cue. I’m willing to bet there was some colourful language in both French and English as well. He stood his ground in a league where the men take the game seriously. He earned the respect of the men.
And, for a change, people wanted to play against him. For the challenge.
Guy took his Dad to the league to spend some quality time with him. It was time well-spent; Guy has fond memories of their time together. He was proud to have his Dad in his company every Thursday night. But, in turn, the league gave my father-in-law pride, respect and admiration from the men in the league. A well-deserved chance to shine.