I promised a friend, Ron Kirk, a few years ago I would try to write a story about Pool and especially about our Pool Hall hang out place in Glens Falls New York known by several names, Charlie’s, Jake’s or its legal name, The Empire Billiard Lounge.
Now before I start the story I feel I must write on why I have been hesitant. I lack a proper education. Yes, I have two years college in Glens Falls and two more in Florida but I never graduated High School and cheated on Sheep Skins that I have. No ones fault but my own. If you’re looking to read this and frown on bad grammar and spelling you might consider stopping right now, this is just an Ole Guy telling a story, no more, no less.
The year the story starts is right at 1964-65. My late dad had closed his Pool Hall “The Chalk & Cue” and I was looking for a home for me and my Cue. I was 14-15 years old at that time. I heard about this place on South Street that players went to. At that time in my life just the words South Street were scary. I never knew directly of anything bad happening on it but as a kid you hear things. To clarify the difference 50 years make, South Street is a Hot Spot for young and older alike, you go to Glens Falls now chances are you will go to some place on South Street.
I was told Charlie’s was right near the Bus station. I looked around for about an hour and could not find a sign that said Charlie’s Pool Hall. I walked around and around for about an hour and was about to give up when I found myself in an Alley and a man was in the middle of it, saw I had a Cue Case and kind of snickered and asked “Are you looking for Charlie’s?” I nodded kind of sheepishly and the man put out his hand and said “I’m Charlie Kaufus, the owner”. I didn’t know it then but I just shook the hand of the greatest influence in my life except for my parents.
Charlie unlocked the door and flicked on a light outside. The bulb was red and I learned if that light was on, Charlie’s was open for business. We walked down the stairs as his place was in a basement. He asked my name and I said “Tom Hay”. He looked right back at me and asked “Freddy Hays son?”
We entered the room and my jaw almost dropped to the floor. I saw 6 tables, 3 per side of room and an odd looking table way in the back. Every table was covered but I could see old Pool Art hanging from the wall, a big clock with a Pendulum on it. A safe underneath, an old Coca Cola Soda Cooler just to name a few things. I thought I had found the ultimate candy store and the biggest thing I noticed was not there was a Juke Box.