Superior Billiards was a place David Goodis might have used to research his novels. It was full of colorful characters, great nicknames, and excitement for teenagers too young to play.
Bob Atchick and Howie Malmud joined me for dinner at the Country Club Diner on Cottman Avenue. To them, the pool hall was known as Mosconi's, after the owner, pool legend Willie Mosconi. Recounting their teenage years, Bob and Howie, kept me laughing as they described life in Logan five decades ago. Listening to them, you would think Logan was the gambling capital of America.
Born on the same day in 1937, Bob and Howie grew up around Warnock and Loudon Streets in Logan. Howie's family lived in an apartment above his father's pharmacy. Howie worked in the store.
Today a retired pharmacist, Howie began visiting Superior Billiards, in 1951 or 1952 when he was 14 or 15 years old. After he got out of the service in 1959, he was old enough to shoot pool. He stopped going there around 1960 when he had to buckle down to his studies at Temple University..
Willie Mosconi www.billiardsexpert.com
"We were kids, probably in our late teens. We watched Willie Mosconi play there," said Bob. "We were smart ----s," Bob remembered. "We were underage. We would watch the guys play pool and keep our mouths shut. We didn't want to get thrown out. It was a place our parents did not want us to be. We just watched. We didn't play pool. We didn't have the money."
Howie remembered Dutch Silver from the neighborhood.
"There were two 'corners'--hangouts in my neighborhood," Howie said. "There was Bernstein's, a candy store at Hutchinson and Loudon, and Jack's, a candy store at Warnock and Loudon. I knew Dutch from Warnock and Loudon."
Howie and Bob remembered that the same characters at Jack's, were found at Mosconi's and also at Al's barbershop at 8th and Loudon Streets. Al's was a bookie joint and the barbers were bookies. Bets were taken at the barbershop. There was an on-going card game at the shoe repair shop across the street from the barbershop.
There were three age groups at Mosconi's. "The oldest group was about six years older than us, people like Dutch. There was a group about three years older than us. Then there was us," Bob said. The crowd at Mosconi's was largely Jewish and many of the characters had Yiddish nicknames.
Foxy's mother owned "Fox's" a dairy store at the 11th and Loudon Streets delicatessen district, Howie said.
Otzie's real name was Arthur. His father was a committeeperson. His father used to fix all the tickets in the neighborhood, Howie said.
Foxy and Otzie were the local defenders. Bob explained that the Nicetown Gang, from a non-Jewish neighborhood south of Logan, "would come to beat us up. But Foxy and Otzie and the younger guys would protect us and beat up the Nicetown gang."
Another character was Harvey the Ganeff (Yiddish/Hebrew for thief). "That's what his peers called him and that's what they thought of him. I was not allowed to call him that. He would come into my father's pharmacy and I would call him the Ganeff and he said 'assertively' not to call him that," Howie said.
"Moxie was the biggest character I remember," Howie said. "He was a numbers writer. He took bets in the pool hall on who would win and who would lose at pool. He took bets on the baseball game."
Heshie (Herschel) was one of the oldest guys at Mosconi's. Howie described him as a "bumbish type."
Lip's real name was Lipschultz.
Shotzie (Sheldon) was in the middle group. He taught Howie how to ride a bicycle.
Doodie (Alan) was a little younger. He became a pharmacist.
Yank, also called Yankee, frequented the pool hall. "His name was short for Yankel," Howie said.
"The guys at Mosconi's were nice guys," Bob said. "But they didn't like me to invade their space."
Bob and Howie watched pool legend Willie Mosconi play at Superior Billiards. "He was fantastic, a whiz," Howie said.
"He was unreal," said Bob.
"He was an older guy," Howie said.
"He was on the road a lot. He had two pool rooms," Bob said.
"He used to travel around to make money," Howie said.
"He was a hustler," Bob said.
"We did not see him after Mosconi made the Jackie Gleason movie The Hustler. He sold both places after that," Howie said.
Harold Silver remembered when Willie Mosconi was felled by a stroke. "They put him on table #5 until the ambulance arrived and the medics carried him up the steps to the street. At the hospital, Willie asked who was minding the store. When he was told that "The Breeze" was in charge, Willie Mosconi's head fell backward. Willie Mosconi eventually recovered from the stroke."
Paul Newman in The Hustler www.addictedtopool.com
Howie remembered the gambling culture in Logan. "They would all shoot craps, pitch pennies, play cards and gamble," Howie said. "They played in two places---down the alley between Warnock and 11th Street, and on the roof of Rosen's bakery on 11th Street. When the ovens were on, they could not play."
"There was a bearded lady on the 4700 block of Warnock Street. She would call the cops. Her husband worked at the Fleers bubble gun plant in Logan. During World War II, he brought us gum, which was not available in stores. We liked him, but not her," Howie said.
"The big guys called the ambulance and said that the bearded lady was dying. When the ambulance arrived, she was sleeping. The crew carried her out of the house and then she woke up," Howie said.
Bob said that that the cops were involved in the betting. "The cops used to walk up and down 11th Street to collect their due. Nobody ever stopped the gambling at Mosconi's. I never heard of raids," Bob said.
"Back then, the 35th District (police station at Broad and Champlost Streets) was the cushion district. It was a safe neighborhood and the police did not work hard. My uncle was a cop there. When he would not be getting his due on collections on 11th Street, he'd be sleeping in my mother's house," Bob said.
Howie's next door neighbor was a newspaper delivery person. "He would come home and go to the store. In the back of the store, there were two telephones, where he did his numbers business," Howie said.
"The only arrests in that family were the son, who twice was caught stealing hub caps. The police were waiting for him when he returned home," Howie said.
"We were like characters in the movie, Angels With Dirty Faces. Our parents were not wealthy," Howie said. "They were blue collar, or working people, or sales people." Howie's father owned the neighborhood pharmacy. Bob's father was a buyer for RCA.
"My father had to pay off a mortgage. He bought the house from A.P. Orleans. A.P. Orleans said, 'Abe, don't pay me. Pay me when you have the money to pay me,'" Howie said. "So my father would borrow money from his brother Oscar to pay the mortgage and then borrow money from his brother-in-law Abe to pay Oscar."
Bob's parents lived with his maternal grandparents and bought the house from them.
"We were normal kids and we had a lot of fun," Bob said. "We did mischief but did not hurt anybody. We would climb over a cinderblock wall, steal pickles which were made in the garage behind the deli. We'd eat the pickles on the corner. It was the deli's fault for not locking the garage where they made the pickles," Bob said.
"The worst we did happened when we started to drive. Marty's family owned a bakery. Marty and I were driving the bakery truck. We saw a digging tool which had fallen off a truck. We dug up a sidewalk panel, put a ribbon in its place, put the sidewalk panel on the truck and put the panel on the porch," Bob said.
Howie and Bob remembered Logan and Mosconi's from the view of impressionable teenagers. Dutch Silver remembered Mosconi's as a refined, respectable place where he excelled at pool.
Superior Billiards was a comfortable place where well behaved men took their pool seriously. It was located on the southeast corner of Broad and Rockland Streets, in the basement. "You walked down a lot of steps to the pool hall, " Dutch said. The ceiling was plaster. Pipes were around the corner of the ceiling. The ceiling and pipes were painted a light color. There were pillars in the middle of the room, between some of the pool tables. Originally the walls were plaster. Later, the walls were paneled in knotty pine. There were a few black and white pictures of pool players on the wall. The pictures were about eight by 10 inches. Among the pictures was that of Willie Mosconi. "Willie Mosconi played there. He was the best pool player who ever lived. Nobody came close to him," Dutch said.
Floor plan of Superior Billiards about 1963 by Dutch Silver
"Upon entering the pool hall, you found the pool tables to the left, in two rows. Each pool table was numbered, one through 17. People always gathered around table 13. There were two billiard tables," Dutch said. Dutch explained the difference between pool and billiards. The pool table had pockets. The billiard table did not. Pool is played with 15 colored balls, number 1 through 15, and a cue ball. Billiards is played with one red ball and two white balls. Dutch described the room as brightly lit with fluorescent tubes.
Leonard Freedman remembers Dutch Silver from Mosconi's.
"Dutch was always a very nice, charming individual, and with a terrific sense of humor," Freedman said. "Dutch was also one of the most physically powerful individuals. He was able to lift the end of a pool table off the floor with one hand. He was also legendary at arm wrestling. To my knowledge, no one ever bested Dutch at arm wrestling."
Freedman said that "Dutch was very laid back and was never one to extol his pool shooting or strength abilities. The talk was that Dutch was a money player and never choked. Finally, Dutch was considered the best pool player in the area."
Don Wittenberg worked at Gabis pharmacy, across the street from Superior Billiards, when he attended high school and college in the 1960's. Don had a different recollection. He said the room was dim. There were fluorescent lights over each pool table. The way you knew that a table was available, was that it was dark. The first thing you did was turn on the lights over the pool table. Don remembered that two strings of beads were hung over each pool table. The beads were used to keep score for each player.
According to Dutch, there was only one string of beads. The beads were separated by a marker. Each player kept score by moving beads on is side of the marker. "If you went down the stairs to the pool hall and turned right, you found the cashier. A cash register--not electronic--was on a wooden counter. In 1948, the cost of a renting a pool or billiard table was 60 cents an hour for two people. By 1966, the cost had risen to $1.50. Further to the right was the men's room. It had two toilets and a urinal. There was no ladies room," Dutch said.
"The pool hall was originally open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to around 11 p.m. or midnight. If a game was going, the place might stay open later. After the Sunday closing law was repealed, the pool hall was open seven days a week," Dutch said.
Dutch said that the patrons were males from ages 18 to 80. The customers included a heart surgeon, a dentist, a kidney specialist, an assistant district attorney and businesspeople. The group was ethnically mixed. The dress was casual. Except for an occasional baseball cap, patrons did not wear hats. People smoked tobacco freely. There was no bar. There was a vending machine for sodas and candy. There were two vending machines for cigarettes. There were two pay telephones. There was no music. Dutch said that a radio was on during ball games. He did not remember a television.
"On occasion there were fist fights, but not too often. No knives and no guns. People would throw things at each other," Dutch said.
Dutch Silver shoots two hand at Superior Billiards, mid-1960's.
Don Wittenberg gave his impressions as a 17 or 18 year old. He described the patrons as orderly. "This was not a tie and jacket kind of place," Don said. "The patrons were mostly working class people, mostly between the ages of 20 and 35, with the numbers thinning out after that age," Don said. "No one dressed sloppy. They were neat and clean. You saw pullovers, T-shirts and cotton shirts. A middle aged guy might be seen with a button down vest. They wore regular work pants, casual pants or the 1960's equivalent of Dockers. Not many people wore blue jeans during that era," Don said.
Don said people bet on the games between themselves. "These were friendly bets," Don said. "There were guys who sat on the side, watching the games. There was a shark or two, waiting for a game to bet on," Don said. "It was a fairly orderly place. I didn't hear anything loud. Nobody minded other people's business. People just played at their own table. There was not a lot of interchange between tables." Don explained that while there was fun at each table, the people throughout the room did not participate in the excitement of a particular table. Don said that the place was sometimes pretty packed. However, you did not have to wait often for a table. He had the impression that Superior Billiards was not making a lot of money.
The pool hall was a man's world. There was no ladies room. "Very rarely did women patronize the place, unless they came in with a husband or male friend on Saturdays," Dutch said.
Dutch said that at the pool hall "nearly everyone had a nickname. If someone came in looking for somebody, they would say we don't know who that is." Among the nicknames were The Bear, The Breeze, The Milkman and Whitey. "Most of the people there, even if you used their first name, nobody knew their last name," Dutch said.
In the 1960's, the owner of Superior Billiards lived about six blocks away on Marshall Street. He had a "standard poodle," a big, chocolate colored dog named Cocoa. "The dog would walk by himself from Marshall Street to Broad and Rockland and come into the pool hall. The dog would sit there until the owner was ready to go home," Dutch said. "We had so much fun with Cocoa. We put a hat and sunglasses on him. We gave him cookies. When he put a paw on you, you knew he wanted a cookie," Dutch said.
Among the owners were Harry Robbins, who sold it to Willie Mosconi, who later sold it to Joseph Rosenberg and Charles Brown. There was another owner, who only had it for a short time, before Superior Billiards closed in the early 1970's.
Dutch saved the August 1963 copy of "Billiard News," published by the Pennsylvania Chapter BPA (Billiard Proprietor's Association). It reported that the legendary Billy Meehan, leader of the Philadelphia Republican Party, had been retained to represent the Pennsylvania PBA in seeking legislation to permit pool halls to operate on Sundays. Page two of the newspaper contained the following item:
1338 Rockland St.
Joseph Rosenberg, Charles Brown
A clean well kept place where many of the Northeast gentry love to come into and spend enjoyable leisure and recreational time. Air conditioned and well-appointed, the players make themselves available of the modern and newest equipment.
William Widdows, who manages the Toddle House, finds he can relax and release all tensions by utilizing his spare moments over the billiard table and enabling him to continue the great job he is doing at the Toddle House.
Charlie Brown tells this reporter that Will is getting to be quite a player. Some of the younger stars to watch at Superior are Morris Klein, Joel Marks and Harold "Dutch" Silver.
Dutch Silver shoots one hand at Superior Billiards, mid-1960's.
Bob and Don remembered "Mosconi's," as a place they visited while "underaged." The legal age to play was 18.
Don recalled that his friend "Lenny and I played for the fun of it. We were 17 or 18 years old," Don said. "We kept to ourselves. We preferred to play on one side of the room. The first time I went in there I felt nervous. I knew I was doing something my mother would not like. I was afraid they would ask my age. Later, when they knew me, nobody would ask."
"We would spend hours at a time, until 11 p.m. at Mosconi's," Don said. "My mother would get upset when I came home late. I did not tell her where I had been, but she probably knew."
Site of Superior Billiards, January 8, 2006, door to pool room is missing.
Dutch described the neighborhood around Superior Billiards. Around the corner was a Horn and Hardarts restaurant. Superior Billiards was in the basement of 1338 West Rockland Street. A small deli was next door to the Superior Billiards. Across Rockland Street on the northeast corner of Broad and Rockland Streets was the Silver Dollar drug store, later known as Gabis. North on Broad Street was Linton's restaurant. The pool players would go to Silver Dollar for sundries, Linton's for creamed chipped beef and Horn and Hardarts for sandwiches and soup. Also on Broad Street was Leon's delicatessen and across Broad Street a block to the south was the Asia Restaurant. The Logan movie was a few doors from the Asia restaurant. On the same block as Leon's delicatessen was the Broad movie. On the 4900 block was the Rockland movie at Rockland street. Next to the Rockland movie was a big telephone company building which is still there. The C bus ran on Broad Street.
"Upstairs at the Logan movie across the street was a fancy pool hall called Logan Billiards, but Goodis did not go there," Dutch said.
Another character who hung out at Mosconi's would only identify himself as "The Shadow," who was a teenager in Logan in the early 1950's. Years later, The Shadow owned the peanut machines at Mosconis. One day the Marks Brothers (Joel and Arnold, not Chico and Harpo) had a fight and started to throw pool balls at each other. "It was like a drive-by shooting," The Shadow said. "Everybody ducked."
According to The Shadow, "Willie Mosconi was a very pleasant guy. His son ran the place."
The Shadow said that the patrons had "all sort of legal issues." He described Mosconi's was a "breeding ground for people from every walk of life---the good side and the bad side. It was a Mecca for people from all parts of the City," he said. "The guys in the pool room would bet on anything. They bet on what color tie would be worn by the next person who entered the pool hall."
"They would bet whether you could eat five penny pretzel sticks in five minutes. No water, just five pretzel sticks. We would go to various candy stores to buy pretzel sticks to train for the eat down. There was over $100 or more on the bet. Several-people put in one or two dollars each," The Shadow said.
"Once I felt that I won," The Shadow said. "Harvey Small thought there was residue in my mouth. He stuck his finger in my mouth to see if there was any pretzel residue. I bit his finger and he could not get his finger out. So, the bet was off and everyone got their money back."
Mosconi's was full of "Damon Runyon characters." The Shadow said. Among the characters were Chico, Mickey Lit ("very cool, very dapper, almost like a Caesar Romero type of guy that always dressed up wearing an overcoat and a tie, the most dapper guy in the pool hall, right out of GQ"), Stan Koff ("lived above one of the stores on Broad Street"), Jerry Milgrom ("very bright, good with numbers"), Harold Kolinsky ("a good pool player, good looking, good athlete") and Wingy ("an older guy with a bad hand. He balanced the pool stick on his bad hand"), "The mix, the potpourri was like going to the Kimmel Center, all different neighborhoods and all walks of life," The Shadow said.
"One of the guys from the pool hall would have all weekend card games at his house on the Boulevard. The guys from Mosconi's would play," The Shadow said. "He would take money , and he would take out of the kitty, cutting the pot, He would send out for trays of fish or cold cuts. Among the games they placed was Acey Deucey."
"I used to bankroll somebody who was a better player than I. Once, when he went to the bathroom, I took over his hand and won $600. In the middle of the night, my father woke me up. He had received a telephone call. A guy had put a gun to my friend's head. So I gave back the money. I gave up playing cards," The Shadow said.
A place David Goodis should have hung out at was Coopers, a candy store on the southwest corner of Warnock and Courtland Streets. Had David Goodis been there, he would have gathered great material for one of his Philadelphia novels.
The Shadow remembers that Dutch, Label, Moxie, and Hook (after his nose), Shelly (known as Hawk, because he sold shirts from the back of his car), Elliot Fisher and Bugsy would go from the pool hall to Coopers. "Whatever you wanted to know, Bugsy always had an answer. He was like Google before there was Google," The Shadow said.
Coopers had a soda fountain and a candy case in the front room. But the back room was the interesting part. At this time, The Shadow was 12 or 13 years old. In the back room were of a bunch of "older" guys, probably in their 20's and 30's. "It was like a club house, where they philosophize and solve all the problems of the
world," The Shadow said.
"To my knowledge, they did not gamble there. At one time there may have been booths in the back room. I don't remember booths. Maybe there were chairs," The Shadow said.
"The biggest thing I remember as a kid, is that Cooper's would make water ice, by putting ice cubes in the milkshake machines. They would make a three level dessert, a layer of water ice, a layer of ice cream and a layer of water ice. That was cool for the 1950's. In other sections of the city, such as Kensington, they were called radio balls," The Shadow said.
He said the owner, Ben Cooper, "was really nice." His son, Dave, who ran the place, "was great" and Mrs. Cooper "was basically a woman of that period."
"Speaking of the early 1950's," The Shadow said, "we played half ball and wire ball." The Shadow explained, "you scored a home run if you threw a ball up at the telephone wires and if it hit the wire on the way up and it was not caught on the way down. It was a triple if the ball hit the wire on the way down. Otherwise, it was a single if the ball did not get caught. Those were the Logan rules. Other neighborhoods had other rules."
Bob Polin email@example.com now 80 years old grew up on the 4900 block of Franklin Street. He played at Superior Billiards almost every day when he was between 16 and 20 years old, sometimes cutting classes at Olney High School to shoot pool. He does not remember an age restriction.
"The place was full of smoke. There was no restriction on smoking. There was no drinking. I would be there sometimes at 11 a.m., sometimes at night, but normally in the afternoon," he said.
He moved away in 1953 when he got married at age 20. He was in the floor covering business.
He remembers Superior Billiards as a page out of Damon Runyan. Ninety per cent of the people were from Logan. Most of the patrons were Jewish. "Everybody had a nick name. Nobody knew anybody's last name. It is true. It is true," Polin said.
"There was lots of smoke. There were no restrictions on smoking. There was no drinking."
"I knew Dutch," he said. "Dutch and Label were good buddies. They were always together. Dutch was a gambler. He would play for money, always play odd type gambling bets, not just let's play 50 points with th first to win, but nine ball, eight ball, strange type of games, not the norm."
"Dutch was playing the whole time I was playing there. The bets could be one or two dollars in those days. A big debt might have been five dollars," Polin said.
"I knew Willie Mosconi. Harry Robbins owned Superior Billards first. He had a manager Tim. Tim had white hair, a sloppy build and a heavy build. He was probably in his 60's when I was there," Polin said.
"Willie Mosconi lived in Haddon Heights, New Jersey and bought the pool room from Robbins. On weekends, Willie Mosconi would come to Superior Billiards to collect the proceeds from his manager, Tim. Willie would play for about an hour. He would ask me, 'Hey Bob, would you like to play with me?'" Polin said.
"We would play for half an hour or an hour. What kicks me is that I never had anyone take a picture playing Willie Mosconi,"
Polin said. "He would practice, I would have a cue. He would shoot for 15 minutes. I would shoot a ball. He was a very nice, sociable man to tlak to. I don't know how long he owned it. After the Paul Newman movie, he sold the pool hall."
"Moxie was a little older than me. He never played pool---or seldom. He was a gambler. Once I heard from the guys at the pool room that Moxie had been arrested for trying to bribe the team, the Warriors. That was the kind of guy he was. I have no idea if he did it," Polin said.
"There was another fellow. The Breeze was an older man. He was in his 50's when I was 18. He would come around and talk to the guys," Polin said.
Polin remembered the businesses in the area. The deli around the corner was Leon's owned by Ziggy Alman "a good friend" and his brother. They sold the business and opened a deli in Bells Corner at Fox Chase and Bustleton a block south of Jack's next to Brow's hardware.
Polin's friend, Eugene Weiner firstname.lastname@example.org lived in Logan at 923 Lindley Avenue across from the Birney School which he and David Goodis attended at different decades. He proceeded to Jay Cooke Junior High School, but unlike Polin who went to Olney, Weiner went to Northeast High School then at 8th Street and Lehigh Avenue. Weiner was in the furniture business.
Weiner patronized Superior Billiars from about 1949 until 1954 when he got married.
"I played a lot with Bear. He was always killing me. I remember Dutch," Weiner said.
"I used to go in on Saturday morning, get there early. Mosconi would come there early and for two years we would play with him. He woud just run balls , one after another, his practice," Weiner said. "I remember som big games---people coming from all over wanting to play with Mosconi. One of the games lasted 24 hours until Mosconi won it."
Weiner remembers the glorious food life in Logan.
"The big businesses were at 11th and Loudon. If you wanted delicatessen, fishes or lox you would go to Ulitsky's [now Boom Box Deli]. For bread, you would go to White Palace or Rosen's. Saler's was the butter and egg and cream cheese place. Malmud's drug store was on Loudon Street. Horn and Hardarts was on Broad Street---a great restaurant, wonderful cheesecake and vegetables. There were the movies on Broad Street---the Rockland, the Broad and the Logan. The Asia Chinese restaurant was on Broad Street," Weiner said.
Brian K. Mitchell grew up in Logan from 1963-1971. He lived at 15th and Louden, about two blocks from Superior Billiards. He attended Logan elementary school and Holy Child parochial school. Today, he is night auditor at the El Rey Inn, a charming hotel on the main drag of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He had his first and best ever hot pastrami and rye with Russian dressing at Leon's Delicatessen. He used to do pancakes at Linton's on his way to Holy Child school.
"I believe I nagged my dad into taking me there [Superior Billiards] once for a father and son quality time foray but we got bounced by the age limit. No surly confrontation--counter guy just pointed at the signage. If I'm not mistaken, and I'm just going by the vaguest impressions here (maybe you can verify for me), there were about 15 or more rather steep stairs going down under street level and nothing posted on the walls with very nondescript paint. The sounds of cracking balls hit you before you got halfway down. We wound up getting to play pool at The Cue And The Cushion on Cheltenham Avenue eventually so I guess the age thing was Superior's policy and not local ordinance or state law. Either that or the guy at the Cue and Cushion just didn't care like the REAL pool players at Superior did.
The name Superior Billiards didn't really ring a bell with me initially, though it's coming back, but Mosconi's did. I feel sure there was signage saying Mosconi's at one time or another but if there was confirmation of that on your page, I sailed right past it.
"Goodis seems like he was quite a guy. I could swear that my dad had a few of his titles laying about. My dad was a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, anything in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre (but especially Asimov and Bradbury), the original Mad Magazine, and of course, the pulps," Mitchell writes.
"Our basement in Logan was full of books and I used to spend hours messing around with them, much to my father's chagrin. Lurid covers were standard for the pulps but there was sure something familiar about the ones I viewed on your site. How did you come to make Goodis your subject I wonder," he said.
My dad was the noir reader--I just grooved on the covers. But I appreciate the connection all the same. I don't think he's noir exactly, but I did peruse a copy of Leslie Charteris' "Vendetta For A Saint" around that time. Fortunately I finished it before it was confiscated by the nuns at Holy Child. Further evidence of my moral turpitude. My dad was cool about that when he got the phone call. He went to bat for me saying he was glad I was reading anything, be it pulps or comic books or whatever, and they oughta just give it back to me.
Mitchell remembers the area around Superior Billiards.
The guys behind the counter at Leon's were always friendly and professional, and like I said before, the pastrami sandwiches were to die for. I've had damned few to match them ever since and it is not for lack of trying. I remember the counter guys were pretty tall and burly guys with soiled aprons, their shirt sleeves rolled up exposing hairy arms, and doing a lot of shouting to each other back and forth," Mitchell said.
"As I waited for my take-out orders (more often than not picking up grub for my parents), I window shopped the counter glass always focusing on the same three items. One was tins of chocolate covered ants, the other was tins of chocolate covered grasshoppers, and the last was a large half-full glass bottle of saccharin. I would stand there wondering if the chocolate covered insects were gag items (they would've gagged me), or if people really ate these things," Mitchell said.
"As for the saccharin, I saw one of the counter guys throw a few into his coffee. I was aware from newspapers I'd read that saccharin had been banned around this time so I considered being a good citizen and ratting these guys out for possessing illegal substances. Fortunately I foresaw that if I wanted to keep getting good sandwiches I'd better let 'em slide, so I did," Mitchell said.
"What I remember most about the Gabis Pharmacy on Rockland was that they used to compound the old fashioned way with morter and pestle for many items, the chemicals lining the back wall in those dark blue bottles like iodine used to come in. There was a soda fountain, of course, and around the perimeter of the walls near the ceilings was signage touting Lime Rickeys. I used to wonder if they served Lime Lucy's too. Rickeys sounded too much like mickeys for my comfort in an pharmacy environment,"
"I remember patronizing the Rockland Theatre. A couple of Saturday afternoon matinees I enjoyed were double features. Jason and The Argonauts and The Valley Of Gwangi was one. The Dirty Dozen and The Green Berets was another. My fave was the James Bond double feature, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice," Mitchell said.
"After one of these shows, I remember one of my pals saw the opportunity to rip off a pair of these huge yellow plastic bags full of pre-popped popcorn. I never knew whether he actually consumed them, shared them, or was busted and made to give them back, but I remember him running down Carlisle Street behind the theatre on that sunny Saturday with a huge bag in each hand and a huge smile on his face," he said.
"Admission prices were 35 cents for kids and 50 cents for adults. When The Graduate appeared there, I was shocked to see that the evening rate was 75 cents! I never got to see The Graduate until many years lalter, but it was my first exposure to what was then the brand new MPAA rating system. The Graduate drew an R rating and Midnight Cowboy was X-rated. To see them now you wonder what all the fuss was about. Still, I would gawk for minutes at a time at Anne Bancroft's legs on the posters outside,"
Mitchell lived through the last years of Superior Billiards. David Goodis died in 1967. Harold Silver married around 1969 and stopped going to Superior Billiards. Mitchell moved Phillipsburg, N.J., and then to Allentown, Pa. In the early 1970's, Logan experienced racial change. In the mid 1970's Superior Billiards closed. Today, the Toddle House is a vacant lot. Even the funeral home from which Goodis' was buried is gone..