Tag Archives: Top Hat

Pool School

This picture was taken long before I was born. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea that I’m old or something.

Once upon a time, if you were to turn right at this intersection and walk down a couple of hundred feet, you would come to the Top Hat billiard room, a dark, narrow hole full of huge vintage pool tables, old men talking quietly amongst themselves, and young and rough rebels without a cause, sometimes playing for serious money, and often swearing a lot.

If you were to walk a couple of blocks straight up this main drag, you would come to Dino’s on the right-hand side, the other pool hall in town, which was bigger, brighter, with newer tables along with pinball machines and a table soccer game which I was pretty darn good at. Rodney Rodent and I took on all comers and I don’t care what anybody says, we were the team to beat.

Dino’s was also filled with rebels without a cause who swore a lot.

The Top Hat was tough, dangerous, smelly, smoke-filled, and really freaking dismal. Dino’s was newer and livelier, filled with long-hairs and frats and smart kids and not-so-smart kids like me, and maybe on a sub-conscious level, people went to Dino’s to avoid getting a punch in the head at the Top Hat.

Although I preferred Dino’s, I didn’t mind the Top Hat. It was always fun to see Vern Smith run the table there and collect his cash, and besides, many of those greaseballs came from my neighbourhood and I’d known them all my life.

It’s all gone now – Dino’s burned to the ground and the Top Hat was condemned, or whatever, a long ago. It’s very sad.

The question lingers. How do young people now find parties and older guys to buy their booze for them if they don’t have a pool hall to go to? How do kids polish their pool-playing skills and their pinball playing, and of course their table soccer? How can they lean on parking meters out front and watch the traffic and the old man drive by if there’s no pool hall? How do they become better greaseballs and straightforward party animals?

Poor young people nowadays. It’s a concern to think that they don’t have this. Get the kids off their computers and out of the gyms and back into the pool halls where they belong.