A Cold Hamm’s And A Hot Game Of Snooker
Let's take a trip, you and I. A trip back, oh, maybe a half-century or so. We're headed to a small town, something under a thousand people, looks a lot like most every other small town in America. There's a cafe or two along main street, a grocery store, a hardware store filled with mowers and shovels, nuts and bolts and most everything in between.
There's the place that sell's farm machinery that are green and right across the street and down a bit, the place that sell's farm machinery that are red. They both do pretty well.
There's a butcher shop owned by some brothers and a family car dealer that's working on it's third generation. There's a small bank, all concrete and bricks. And there's a barber shop with the twirling peppermint barber pole outside right by the door.
There's churches, it seems like everywhere. They'll all be filled tomorrow morning, filled with real good folks hoping to get forgiven for a small sin or two they had during the long work week in one of those little shops or out on one of the countless family farms that circle this little town.
But those churches are empty now, because it's Saturday night.
I was just a little fella and after dropping my Mom off at my Grandma's, I'd go with my Dad to a place that seems to have faded from the fabric of those small towns all across America.
The Pool Hall.
It wasn't big, just two tables was all. The 'regular' pool table was in the front for 8-Ball or Rotation, and there in the back, that's where my Dad and the other old boys would congregate. Why?
Because that's where the Snooker table was. And them old boys, back in them old days, they played Snooker.
I'd sit on a stool along the long, large wooden bar. There was only two kinds of beer back at that place, in that time. There wasn't a thousand choices like we have now. There wasn't hundreds of flavors, no limes or lemons, no dark or lite, no fancy labels with names you can't even pronounce.
Nope, the old boy's had their choice of two. You either wanted a cold Grain Belt...or you wanted what seemed to me to be the most popular.
Most of the old boys enjoyed a Hamm's Beer. And I can remember my Dad having that Hamm's, pouring it into a glass and then sitting mesmerized as he (and just about all of them) would shake a little salt in that beer. Why? I don't know, but it was so cool to watch it drift, sift, slowly fall to the bottom of the glass. And up there on the wall behind the long wooden bar was a sign. Long (or so it seemed), with a creek running though it, lit up with a blue light from behind that made the water flow, lazily flow below the Hamm's logo. It was magic, all of it.
Funny the things you recall, isn't it?
And over there, down the bar a bit, was a large jar filled with sausages or pickles or eggs. The old boys had to have a snack while engaging in that Snooker game! I can still see them like it was yesterday, raising their pool stick and pushing a washer along a wire strung high above the table. Somebody had scored!
There's still pool tables around of course, and I'm sure they still have Snooker tables, too. I'll bet there's still 'old boy's' playing pool, swapping tall tales and complaining about politics and corn price's just like they did in that small town pool hall more than a half century ago.
Now that I think about it, it's not the pool or the Snooker I miss. It's just the memory, bent so warm in my mind, of my Dad and his friends. A salted Hamm's or two, a game of Snooker and a little farm boy that didn't realize he'd remember it all more than 50 years later.