This From Patrick O'Connor's "In a Marmalade
Saloon". Joe was my uncle and together with his wife and son John sublet
our front room prior to moving to a new house in Boydston Road, Ardrossan
in the early '50s.
Dad reckoned our families came through the depression
well all through the hustling done by Joe in the local billiard halls.
I was lucky. When I got to the den a big pin school was
just forming and they made me marker. That meant I could poghle the stars.
Five Pin Pool. Four white pins scoring one two three
four and the black pin in the middle. Balls and score as in billiards
along with the score for the pin you play down with the ball. Knock the
black pin down and you are bust no matter what your score is and it's a
penny star forbye and you start all over again with no score. The marker
chalks a star on the score- board under your name and you give him a penny
which is added to the pool. The winner collects the pool, whatever it is a
head along with a penny each for all the stars he counts on the board. But
if you're clever like me and can rub Off a couple of stars without being
nabbed that's a couple of coppers into your pocket. Of course you have to
chance getting your head in your hands.
It was a big school. Shilling a pool, penny a star.
Frank Kelly, Bowly McEwan, Winky Templeton, Joe Pepper, Gunner Brown and
Poker Reid. Scoring twenty-one up for the pool. Then Joe came in and
swanked them into letting him play if he would score twenty-five to their
twenty-one, you'd have to be Joe Davis never mind Joe Cunningham.
So what did he do. As soon as he got a hit he ran out
the first pool. He collects the money and they all give me their shillings
again. The winner always breaks the balls. Joe breaks, scores seven pins
from the dee and goes on to make twenty- five again without giving anybody
else a hit at the balls. He breaks again while they are donating their
money to the next pool and runs it out before the last man has paid up.
That's it. The game's a bogey. They all start hanging
up the cues, Joe pockets the money and heads for Ardeer and beer and no
stars for yours truly. But Joe is good with his money and gives me
ninepence for myself because he has won three pools, saying he was away to
Nineveh. That's his name for Stevenston, that den of iniquity, heh-heh.
Joe's a right tear when he starts, he would cod the breeks of a heelanman.
He's the one who first made the immortal wisecrack - Many are cauld but
few are frozen, one day during a hard winter when there was no coal to
light the fire in the den.
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