Philly- A Kid’s Winter Wonderland

Another real story of growing up in North Philly on Mercy Row:

Philly- A Kid’s Winter Wonderland

When I was a kid growing up in Philly it was always a bit of a letdown after Christmas and New Year’s Day. The hubbub of the holidays was gone and people settled down to work and school. There wouldn’t be another day off until Presidents Day in February- Unless it snowed.

Snow- ahhhh it was like ambrosia to us kids. Yeah I know ambrosia is about taste and smell, but to me and my friends back then snow was better than the best Philly cheese steak. So forgive me for using that word. It didn’t matter if it was 1 inch or 2 feet we loved it.

Having a snow day was like winning the lottery. No school and all day out in the snow with occasional visits to the house for a sandwich or a cup of coco. What could be better? Only one thing: our sleds. Not everyone had a sled, but a metal trash can lid or even an old inner tube could substitute.

We were lucky because it seemed like we got a lot of snow in the 1950s and early 60s. I don’t know if it was more than now but as a kid it seemed like it. When the first flake fell we would excitedly look out the window every couple of minutes to see if the snow was “laying”. Every kid went to bed with high expectations that we would be hit with the largest snow fall in history. In the morning we would get out of bed and rush to the window, hearts beating fast and thinking about all the fun things we were going to do. When we had the first few flakes my Grandfather would say “I hope it keeps up.” We would say yeah and jump around the room. Then he would finish by saying “That way it won’t come down.”

Most of the time we were disappointed, but sometimes the snow was blanketing the dirty asphalt and concrete making the neighborhood a beautiful winter wonderland. By the end of the day the sidewalks would be crusted with gray and black ash from people’s coal furnaces (our answer to using salt) and the illusion of the pristine city evaporated. We didn’t care as long as the snow didn’t evaporate with it.

As I said, sleds were very important. In-between snowball fights and building snow forts, we would take our sleds to Howard and Clearfield Streets (just one block from my house) where Howard Street had the best hill. Down we would go, not thinking about any cars that might be coming across the intersection of Lippincott and Howard Streets. There were near misses for sure, but I never saw any accidents there.

Sometimes we would drag our sleds to McPherson Park between Clearfield Street and Indiana Ave and E and F Street. There was a library there and the largest area of grass in Kensington (I think). Not that it was that large, but to us it was just right. The hills made for great sledding competitions. Many hours of sliding through parked cars on Clearfield Street were had. Yeah sometimes we hit the cars, and a few times kids did get banged up, but hey it was a snow day!

When the snow melted from the streets we would eke out a few more sled rides going down a 10 foot embankment at one of the nearby factories. When the snow finally melted we would begin again to anticipate the next great snow storm.

So next time it snows (a rarity here in Atlanta) don’t bitch and moan. Go out and build a snow fort, sled down a hill or have a snow fight and remember your childhood.

 

Mercy Row Retribution Now on Amazon

My third book in the Mercy Row series- Mercy Row Retribution- is now available in EBook and Print form on Amazon.

Ebook Version
http://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Row-Retribution-Harry-Hallma…/…/
Printed Book Version
http://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Row-Retribution-Harry-Hallman/…/

Story synopsis:
While serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, Gerry Amato—the grandson of Jacob Byrne, the head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family—seizes the opportunity to create a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation. It’s 1967, and under the secrecy of a classified military operation, and with the assistance of a Marseille mob that owns plantations in Cambodia, he is able to send tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana to Philadelphia every month. His grandfather’s criminal enterprise distributes the drug to a population that has developed an insatiable appetite for the marijuana.

A rival Paris gang tries to force Amato to buy their product, which triggers war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob. From the steamy jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia to the streets of Saigon, Paris and Philadelphia, the ruthless actions of the Paris mob threaten to destroy the Byrne family. Gerry Amato orchestrates a merciless campaign of retribution against his foes in order to save himself and his family.

In part two of Mercy Row Retribution—the third book in the Byrne family saga—it is April 1975 and South Vietnam is about to fall to the North Vietnamese communists. Gerry Amato fears that the communists will take revenge on the population, especially the children—many of whom are Amerasian—at an orphanage he supported and volunteered at during his time as a pilot. He orchestrates a rescue mission to retrieve the children and bring them to the United States. This takes him and his team into harm’s way in Thailand, across Cambodia and into war-torn Vietnam and back. The fates of 75 children and 30 adults rest squarely on Gerry’s shoulders.

Bonus Section
Mercy Row Retribution includes a bonus section of short, true stories of the author and his friends’ experiences growing up in North Philly in the 1940s and 50s. This is a true reflection of what life was like for working-class kids growing up on the streets of Philadelphia.

Ebook Version
http://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Row-Retribution-Harry-Hallma…/…/
Printed Book Version
http://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Row-Retribution-Harry-Hallman/…/

New Year’s Eve and Day

The time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day was the gold standard (Summer was the Diamond standard) for time off of school. You had the toys you received for Christmas and there were always leftover pies, cakes and candy that had to be eaten. The day after our Christmas bounty.

The first time I remember feeling sorry for someone happened during this time when I was about eight years old. My friends and I were playing Tin Can Eddy and a kid from a few blocks away asked if you could join in. We had seen him around, but he wasn’t one of our regular gang. Still we let him play. Somehow, the conversation got around to each of use telling what treasures we had received for Christmas. Remember, I mentioned that my Mom saved all year just to be sure her children got many cool presents. When it came to Joe to tell us what he received from Santa (I’ll call him Joe because I don’t remember his name), he lifted his hands and said, “Gloves.” We quickly asked what else he got and he said, “Just these gloves. They’re cool right?” Joe said. I said, “Yeah, they are cool,” but in my heart I felt sorry for him and more appreciative of what I had. That feeling passed quickly and “Joe” joined in and had a great time. Afterwards he went home and we never saw him again. Maybe Joe was really an angel come to teach me a lesson. Nah?

In the mid-1950s my sister and brother-in-law moved into my grandmother’s house and my Grandfather and Grandmother moved in with us. My sister (ten years older than me) started having New Year’s Eve parties in her new house, which was around the corner from us. She invited our family and family friends and it was always a great time. The adults drank beer and highballs, and kids got to drink sodas (soda in Philadelphia is any carbonated soft drink). It was a fun time and I wonder now how so many people fit into such a small home. At ten o’clock or so, the chips and pretzels were replaced with hot dogs and sauerkraut and roast beef on Kaiser roll sandwiches. It was torture for us kids as we had to smell the food cooking all night before we could get some. It was always worth the wait.

At midnight, all the kids and some of the adults got pots and pans and large spoons and made as much noise as we could. The entire neighborhood did the same and for the first fifteen minutes of the New Year, it was bedlam.

After the noise making I always went back around to my house to say Happy New Year to my Grandmother. She didn’t like parties and instead at midnight simply heated up a coffee cake she bought at the German bakery. I can see her now sitting at the front of our small kitchen table drinking her coffee and eating her cake. I would kiss her on the cheek and she would give me a piece of cake. My father normally didn’t go to these parties either. He worked at the poolroom late, came home, and was in bed before the midnight.

On New Year’s Day we would wake up, have a good breakfast and get ready to see the Mummers Parade on TV. Several times my Dad did take us to see them in person, but I think that may have been before we had a television set. To be honest it was much easier and you saw at lot more on TV than in person. One thing I do remember about being at the New Year’s Day Parade was the men selling roasted chestnuts. They smelled great and anything hot on a cold January day was welcomed.

Soon the house would fill with the aroma of baked ham with cloves. This was our traditional New Year’s Day meal. Come to think of it, that was our traditional Easter meal as well. There were pies again and all the fixings that went with baked ham. Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving after the meal, everyone laid around half-comatose from eating too much. When my head cleared, I would remember that I had school the next day. The thought would hit me like a ton of bricks. We would have to wait until February to get another day off from school.

December 23rd

December 23rd

It’s December 23rd and I have been trying to think about all those December 23rds I experienced as a child. Funny thing is I can’t remember them. I know it was the last day of school until January 2nd (depending which day the holidays fell on). We probably spent the school day eating cookies with nuts in them the teacher brought in and finishing our handmade CHRISTMAS cards for the family. I’m sure we sang a few Christmas songs, some religious some not. The teacher probably explained what Christmas was all about and I assume we started the morning out by saying a prayer and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as we did every morning.

At dinner we most likely had a normal non holiday meal, probably pot pie, meat cakes and potatoes, meatloaf or spaghetti and meatballs. Since we didn’t have school the next day I’m pretty sure we could stay up late, but I really can’t remember anything that happened on December 23rd.

And the reason is I was 1000% focused on December 24th and 25th. So focused was I and every other kid in the neighborhood that we had amnesia starting at least a week before the holiday of holidays. I am pretty sure we were wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year that whole week, but don’t ask me who I said it to because I simple do not remember. I know they were Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Jewish, atheists, maybe even Buddhists and Muslims. No one ever got mad at us for wishing them well at Christmas. At least that I remember and I don’t remember much.

That all changed on the morning of December 24th. Somehow I snapped out of the holiday trance and began a day long trip to anticipation land. The excitement started with a good breakfast that included baked goods from the German Bakery. That was every morning pretty much, but on Christmas Eve morning my Grandmother would buy some special cakes. This I remember like it was yesterday.

All day my Mom, Grandmother, and my Sister, who was ten years older than me, would prep for the big day. December 24th was the day to bake the Christmas pies and cake. It smelled heavenly. Pumpkin pie, Mince Pie and Apple pie were the most common. I remember my Grandmother rolling out the lard infused pie crust with her rolling pin, making the pie filling and putting them one at a time in the small oven.

By lunch my brother and I could have eaten a whole pie each, but if we touched them we would get the legendary Floss Hallman (Mom) smack in the face. Instead we would have a potato chip sandwich or something similar and a glass of milk that came from a bottle you had to shake up to blend the cream that tended to rise to the top of the bottle. After lunch we were ushered out of the house into the cold winter weather that we loved and never really felt since we were well clothed and always active.

December 24th was the one day of the year that we didn’t mind coming home for dinner. Christmas Eve meals were generally baked macaroni and cheese and canned tuna fish. My dad was raised Catholic and he held to the meat free days even though he didn’t go to church. Later my mother and I became Catholic and did the same. After diner my Grandfather and my brother Bill would get the tree from the yard, shake out any stray cats that were in it and set it on the train platform in the living room. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the tree had a unique odor of mixed pine and cat pee. My mother would supervise as they decorated the tree.

I really like Christmas Eve night because my mother bought Ginger Ale soda in case any of her friends came to visited and needed a highball. That meant we could sneak some of the Ginger Ale. Of course, there were plenty of Christmas cookies and candies. Did you know that Gingersnap Cookies and Ginger Ale go well together?

Finally it was time for bed. If we didn’t go to sleep Santa wouldn’t come and our stockings that were “hung by the chimney with care” would be empty. It was strange and wonderful time. We really didn’t want to go to sleep but we also wanted presents in the morning, so off to bed we went, wide eyed and excited.

Some Christmas Eves stand out more than others. Like the time my Grandfather was trying to put an Angel on the top of the tree and fell taking the tree with him. Also, my first Christmas home after being discharged after four years in the Air Force stationed in the tropics when it snowed two feet and I had to help my mother take gifts around the block to my sister’s house. The snow drifts were up to my chest. Come to think of it all of our Christmas Eves were special, because our family made them special.

So no matter what religion you are or are not I wish you a Very, Very Happy Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas day.

The Day I Saw a Flying Saucer- Growing Up North Philly.

flashgordonspaceship

It was the early 1950s and everything in our young lives was about two things- The Russians dropping an Atomic Bomb on us or flying saucers. At school we often had air raid drills, We would hide under our desks and were told to keep our eyes closed so the flash of the Atomic bomb wouldn’t blind us. “Stay away from the windows so glass doesn’t cut you,” was a typical refrain.

Meanwhile we were watching movies and news casts that showed people melting or being blown apart from an Atomic explosion. And if that wasn’t bad enough, every monster in the movies was a mutation caused by radiation.

Given these scenarios I often wondered why even hide under our desks. If we didn’t melt we would become some kind of crazy looking mutant monster. I like what one of my friends told me, no doubt something he heard his father say, “If there’s an Atomic explosion first put you head between your legs and then kiss your ass goodbye”.

Far more interesting was the idea of flying saucers. Seems like every day there was a story about someone seeing a spaceship or being kidnapped by aliens. Personally, I thought it might be fun to meet something from another planet. In our young and impressionable minds this was all plausible. Of course, there were people from other planets. Of course, they were smarter than we were and they had invented space ships that could reach the earth.  All we could do was hope we met the nice aliens, not the one Flash Gordon came across.

So, with this as a background, imagine our delight when one early evening while we were sitting on the African Violet Lady’s doorstep –  Let me pause for a second. Our mother called the lady that owned the house the African Violet Lady because she grew that flower in her yard. We had no idea what her real name was. – Anyhow, we were sitting on her step and a large silver spaceship slowly crossed over our neighborhood. It was beautiful and graceful. As it slowly floated by we marveled at size and technology of the craft.  They were, without a doubt superior beings.

We talked about that spaceship for days. Even though the aliens didn’t land and greet us, we still felt privileged to have experienced the grandeur of their intelligence.

Newest Book Cover- Mercy Row Retribution. November 2015

 

Newest Book Cover- Mercy Row Retribution. November 2015.

Newest Book Cover- Mercy Row Retribution. November 2015.

Two weeks till Mercy Row Retribution

Looking a two week or so for new book to be on Amazon. Here is the promotional blurb.
Mercy Row Retribution
While serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, Gerry Amato—the grandson of Jacob Byrne, the head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family—seizes the opportunity to create a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation. It’s 1967, and under the secrecy of a classified military operation, and with the assistance of a Marseille mob that owns plantations in Cambodia, he is able to send tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana to Philadelphia every month. His grandfather’s criminal enterprise distributes the drug to a population that has developed an insatiable appetite for the marijuana.
A rival Paris gang tries to force Amato to buy their product, which triggers war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob. From the steamy jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia to the streets of Saigon, Paris and Philadelphia, the ruthless actions of the Paris mob threaten to destroy the Byrne family. Gerry Amato orchestrates a merciless campaign of retribution against his foes in order to save himself and his family.
In part two of Mercy Row Retribution—the third book in the Byrne family saga—it is April 1975 and South Vietnam is about to fall to the North Vietnamese communists. Gerry Amato fears that the communists will take revenge on the population, especially the children—many of whom are Amerasian—at an orphanage he supported and volunteered at during his time as a pilot. He orchestrates a rescue mission to retrieve the children and bring them to the United States. This takes him and his team into harm’s way in Thailand, across Cambodia and into war-torn Vietnam and back. The fates of 75 children and 30 adults rest squarely on Gerry’s shoulders.
Bonus Section
Mercy Row Retribution includes a bonus section of short, true stories of the author and his friends’ experiences growing up in North Philly in the 1940s and 50s. This is a true reflection of what life was like for working-class kids growing up on the streets of Philadelphia.

Thank You Thanksgiving Day – Growing Up North Philly

 

 

I have decided to add my Growing up North Philly stories as an addendum for by third Mercy row book. Because I of that I’m going to add a few post here early about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know it’s early but I need to get the book edited and produced before December. So here goes:

Thank You Thanksgiving Day

Thank you for all the wonderful memories of feasting with the family at my grandparent’s house, then my parent’s house in Kensington, North Philly.

Thank you for telling the teachers to have me draw turkeys, pilgrims and autumn leaves so my parents could put on the refrigerator. And thank for got the trees near school that shed their acorns so we could throw them at each other.

Thank you Thanksgiving for being in late November when the weather was cold and my mother could stuff us into the snowsuits so we could run or hardly walk. And, thank you for the Turkey sweater that made me look more dorky than I already was.

Thank you for the Gimbel’s Thanksgiving Day parade with all the local stars, floats and the school bands playing music. And, thank you for having the crowd be so loud we couldn’t hear the school bands. No really, thank you.

Thank you for the El and the trolley cars that took us to downtown with all the families that were stuffed like sardines in a can. I was hoping to see Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, Dilly Dally, Carabell the Clown and especially Princess Summerfallwinterspring, but I was usually disappointed because they were busy at the Macy’s New York Parade. That disappointment, however, quickly faded, when I spied Sally Star, Wee Willy Weber, Pixanne, and Bertie the Bunyip.

Thank you for the crowds of people that battled the cold and sometimes snow and lined the streets every year to get a glimpse of Santa. And, thank you for the small children who were perched on their Dad’s shoulders so they could see the parade and blocked my view.

Thank you for having Santa climb up the fire truck ladder to the fourth floor of Gimbel’s. Thank you also for having Santa scare the hell out of me when I was very small.
Thank you for having those Santa’s helpers that dressed just like him on every street corner in downtown Philly and Kensington Avenue the day after Thanksgiving. And, thank you for being sure they were much taller than me, so I didn’t have to smell the whisky on their breath.
Thank you Thanksgiving for making merchants wait until your holiday was over to start the Christmas Season. Maybe you could talk to them now about going back to that tradition.

Thank you for the wonderful smell of roasting turkey that permeated our 16 x 40 foot two-story row home. And thank you for allowing us to drink and eat until we would burst, and for us having only one bathroom in the house when we had 15 guests.

Thank you for the mash potatoes, the stuffing, cranberry sauce and the wonderful pies. I loved the Apple pie, Minced Meat Pie and of course, Pumpkin pie. And double thank you for the time the bar of soap fell in the mash potatoes and I learned about it the hard way.

Most of all, thank you for grandparents and parents that understood the value of holiday family gatherings. It was a time when all the cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, especially those who were living like a million miles away in South New Jersey, got together and enjoyed each other’s company. I never have understood when people say they have to endure another Thanksgiving dinner with family. I feel sorry for them. I wouldn’t change a thing about my memories.

So again, thank you Thanksgiving. See you next year. I would give anything to have just one more Thanksgiving dinner with my Grandparents and Parents. Maybe, someday I will.

 

A Long Walk to “Nowheresville” – Growing Up North Philly

Where is Nowheresville you ask? I can tell you that it’s not near “Clarksville” and there are no “Last Trains” going there. Sorry I had to fit in a connection to the Monkee’s song of 1966. Like the meaning of the Monkee’s song, Nowheresville is a place you might not come back from if you ever get there in the first place.
When you grow up in the blue collar area of North Philly the expectations are that you will aspire to get a job in a factory or, if you’re lucky, learn a trade such as plumbing. You could also get a job in construction or become a roofer. Lots of roofers in the 1950-60s North Philly. Now that’s fine if that’s what you want. All are respectable jobs and some of them can provide a very good living.
 
For me, I wanted something else. Maybe being a Pool Shark like my dad would have been fun, but I wasn’t good enough player for that. Problem was I didn’t know what I wanted. I hadn’t found myself yet. Go to college, you say. Nice thought but back then there was no expectation that a guy or girl from our neighborhood would go to college. Most parents didn’t have the money to pay for college. I don’t remember any government sponsored high interest college loans either.
 
So at 17 I took a job as an apprentice Plumber. Hey plumbers were making 5 bucks an hour back then. I started off making $1 an hour and often worked 50 -60 hours with no overtime pay. It was a good job but, a hard job. I dug ditches in 100 degree weather, helped plug outdoor leaks in 5 degree weather, carried bathtubs up 4 floors and a lot more. It was okay and some day, after 4 years or so, I could make that $5 an hour. But, something was missing, but I had no idea what. I felt as if I was on A Long Walk to Nowheresville.
 
So I did the only thing I thought I could do. I quit my job, joined the Air Force and hoped I would find a career I loved that would carry with me my whole life. The Air Force had another idea. They enrolled me in a school to learn how to handle and load bombs on air planes. Yikes!!!
 
I finished basic training and was put on a train to Denver Colorado. Lowery Airbase was a school base. They taught lots of different skill, many of which translated to good careers when you left the military. Loading bombs on planes was not one of them. Again the nagging feeling came over me. I felt as if I was still on A Long Walk to Nowheresville.
 
Sometimes, crap happens and puts you back on course without you even knowing it. After a month of kitchen duty and shoveling coal me and several others were pulled out of line and told to see the Master Sergeant. He asked me if I had studied Physics in high school.
 
I said, “No, Mastbaum was a trade school.”
 
He said, “If you didn’t study Physics then you can’t load bombs on airplanes.
 
I asked, “Then what can I do?”
 
He handed me a book and said, “Pick anyone, expect Intelligence school. That’s for brainiacs.”
 
I looked and I didn’t see anything that interested me. Fortunately, I had met a guy at the local beer hangout who said he was going to Photo School. That stayed with me and I asked the Sergeant about it.
 
He said, “Yeah, they teach that on the other side of the base.”
 
I didn’t know it then, but I guessed later it was as far away from the “normal” schools as they could get it. You know how those creative types are? Wouldn’t want them contaminating regular military types.
 
Anyway I asked how long the school was. He told me it was 17 weeks. I thought about it for a second, realizing the other schools were mostly 6 months or longer.
 
I said, “I’ll take it.”
 
I hated the first week in photo school. Why did I do this? I thought. But, that passed and I soon started to love it. What I didn’t realize was then was it wasn’t Photography in general that I loved, it was being a communicator. And, so this led me on a path from being a photographer, to being a marketing executive to now being a writer. How funny life can be.
 
The moral of the story is -yes for Christ sake there is a moral- don’t settle for what is expected of you. Experience things until you find something you love.
One last thing. I was in my late forties when my mother finally stopped telling me she wished I had stayed a plumber.

Growing Up North Philly- Circle Billiards Parlor

I’ve already mentioned that my father was a champion pool player, a pool hustler and a gambler of sorts. During the 1950s he opened a poolroom with a partner. As I remember it had 8 to 10 tables. A couple of tables were tournament size and the rest were regular size.

Circle Billiards was located at Allegheny Ave and Lee Street in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. At some point in the buildings history someone had combined three or four standard row homes and opened a bar on the lower level. Maybe it was even a speakeasy. Anyway the pool room was on the second floor of this bar. When I was a kid the bar became Nino’s Nightclub and we all thought it might be “connected” to the mob. I went to school with the owner’s kid and when he was sixteen he was driving a new car. An unheard of thing in our neighborhood.

Anyway, to get to the poolroom you had to walk up a long, dark and dank stairway. You could smell the cigarette smoke mixed with hot dog odor from the rotary cooker as soon as you opened the door. As you walked into the main area the noise of pool balls hitting other balls, men cursing at missed shots and having fun assailed your ears. There were lots of dollars on the tables as the men gambled to see who the best player was.

From age 8 to about 12, I frequented the poolroom, almost every day after school. So did my brother. If it was slow, Dad would teach us how to play pool or even play a game with us. That was always boring because we would break the rack of balls and he would then sink two or three racks until he finally took pity on us and miss a ball.

If you have read my Mercy Row books you would have experienced some of the influence the poolroom had on me. The new book Mercy Row Retribution has a scene that takes place in the poolroom. My father was very good at trick pool as well as regular pool. He showed us many tricks. The one I remember most I have put in the new book. Let me tell you about that trip shot.

I’ll share with you an excerpt from the book. Of course, my novels are fiction but I assure you that the trick I describe is the actual trick my dad could do.

-“Put another twenty down and I’ll prove it isn’t bullshit,” Harry said

The man took a twenty from his pocket and threw it on the table. Harry pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket, peeled off two twenties and said, “Here’s what I’ll do. Shooting from the end of the table here, I’ll hit all four cushions, and then the ball will go into the left side pocket.”

“How the hell can he do that?” Callahan whispered to Gerry. “After it hits the rail in front of him the ball would have to bounce back, twist to the left and to go in the pocket. It’s impossible.”

“Wait and see,” Gerry whispered back.

The man pulled another twenty from his pocket, threw it on the table and said, “Can’t f’ing be done. I’ll be happy to take your money.”

Harry placed a twenty on top of the pile and said, “Gerry, you hold the money.”             Gerry picked the money up.

Harry picked up the chalk, twisted against the cue tip of his custom made cue stick and then said, “Ready?”

The man replied, “Go at it old timer,” and laughed.

Harry hit the ball; the ball hit the right rail, then the back rail, then the left rail. Then it hit the rail in front of Harry, flipped up and off the table. At the same time, Harry held his left coat pocket open and the ball landed in it.

“Callahan laughed and said, “Holly shit. How the hell did he do that?”

The man wasn’t laughing and said, “I win. It didn’t go in the pocket. Give me my money.”

Harry picked ball out of his left coat pocket and said,” Here it is. It went into my left pocket. Sorry you lose.” –