View Full Version : You might want to listen to Daddy

03-03-2006, 04:29 PM
I thought this was an entertaining read...


You might want to listen to Daddy
By J. Randolph Murray

My daddy was the best one-armed pool shooter in South Georgia.

Maybe the best one-armed player anywhere. That I don't know for a fact. But I do know he was unchallenged in billiards superiority from the Florida border to the gnat line.

And his was not a novelty act. Born without a right arm below the elbow, Lamar Murray taught himself to shoot pool to earn a living, not to entertain the curious. The hundreds of "normal" players who left money on the table can attest that he was not handicapped in the pool hall, if anywhere.

At one point his reputation caught the attention of the late great billiards champion Willie Hoppe, who stopped by to take Daddy's measure on a swing through the South. (Hoppe won, but barely, witnesses reported.)

But for all his rare talent on the green felt, Daddy never taught his only son the game. By the time I came along, he had pretty much put his stick away and was making an "honest" (meaning much less profitable) living as a salesman, after yielding to pressure from certain members of his upright Methodist family.

I was left to learn to shoot pool on my own, mostly in the classic billiard palace on Cherry Street in downtown Macon. My Mercer University classmates and I spent many long and productive hours studying practical physics, geometry, economics and human psychology at this off-campus lab.

Most afternoons, we were led in our studies by Bobby, the youngest of our crew, who ironically was occasionally mistaken for a 40-year-old wrestler, with his heavy build, his balding pate and his sardonic expression. He acted like he belonged everywhere he went, and got the rest of us into places we might not otherwise have been welcome.

Then there was Irving, the wiry, quiet one with the shock of dark Elvis hair. Bart, the sinfully good-looking, shy musician. Richard, the brash clown. Chuck, the witty ladies' man. And me.

Under the smoke-stained lettered signs commanding "NO Profanity," "NO Fighting" and "POSITIVELY NO GAMBLING!" we self-taught students of the fine art of eight-ball, rotation and nine-ball practiced our avocation with due diligence.

One of the things I brought to the green Gandy tables was a piece of sage advice given by my father as I left home: "Son, if you're going to shoot pool, never pick a place that's upstairs, or in a basement. That way it'll hurt a lot less if you get bounced out of the joint. And, first thing, find out where the back door is, and try to get a table that has a straight shot to that back door."

That advice came in handy one afternoon as we happened to be shooting at the back table, next to a couple of Very Serious Shooters. As they quietly went about their game, twenties would magically appear and then disappear on the making or missing of individual shots.

Following pool hall etiquette, we showed proper respect to our elders and obvious superiors, to the point of saying "excuse me" if any of us had to momentarily lean into their space to make a hard to reach shot.
Then the goobers rolled in. Loud punks, horsing around, goofing on each other, showing off. And grabbing a table on the other side of the Silent Professionals.

We exchanged looks among ourselves that said, simply, "Uh-oh" and waited, on alert, for the inevitable.

And before three more racks, it happened. One of the rowdy interlopers bumped one of the Serious Players just as he was making a shot for what appeared to be a folded portrait of Ulysses S. Grant. And instead of apologizing, the fool made a smart-aleck remark.

In one smooth, unbroken movement, the Serious Shooter reversed the polarity of his cue as he swung to connect the heavy end of the stick with the punk's skull in a resounding "thwack."

The next sound we heard was the "WHAM!" of the heavy metal back door hitting the brick wall outside as we hit the alley running - saving at least our standing as students of Macon's finest Baptist institution of higher learning, if not a trip to jail or the emergency room.

It was many years later when I told my father about that afternoon and how his words of wisdom had been heeded. I had persuaded Daddy, retired then and visiting me and my young family in Florida, to come with me to a neighborhood sandwich place that had a couple of pool tables in the corner.

Smiling at my story, Daddy picked up a cue stick, for the first time in decades, and asked me if I wanted to shoot a game of nine-ball. It would be the first and last time I would shoot pool with my father.

He ran the table. Single-handedly.

03-06-2006, 12:14 PM
Susan, great story....thanks for posting it!!!!
I'm still stuck, by the way, between using my OB-1,
or my 314 for tournaments....but it beats having to choose between
a Budweiser cue, and a Steve Miz from K-Mart
I can make shots with the OB, i can't make with my reg shaft, but a littl emore consistant with the 314.....
Again....nice story, wish folks would post more of them here...