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  #1  
Old 05-13-2006, 04:23 PM
Grady Grady is offline
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Default Cochran's

Cochran’s was anything and everything, simply the greatest pool room ever. 1028 Market St. was the actual address. I worked there in 1963. I got paid two dollars an hour and often I’d pay someone five bucks an hour to work for me so I could be in action. Public transportation was $.15. I didn’t own a car and neither did my friends.
Ronnie Allen won the One Pocket tournament there in 1962. When it was over nobody hustled him to play for money. Ronnie gave Earl Whitehead 8 to 5 and the break and won easily. Denny Searcy played Cliff Thorburn to a virtual draw on the 6’ X 12’ snooker table. That was a 40 hour match.
Here is an incomplete list of the regulars, as I remember them, with some assorted shorts:
“Trees”, worked for the post office for a while but liked pool and the race track too much to continue. A warm, honest human being who played decent Banks.
“Legs”, Gerald was his name, a good hustler and better than average shortstop.
“Ears”, smart and clever, a real good game maker.
100 Ball Blackie, still played a nice game in his dotage. We used to kid him and call him 10 Ball Blackie but he used to run 100’s on the 5’ X 10”.
“Kansas City Whitey”, a real rascal, his parents sent him $2,000 a month to stay away from home.
Jesse, “The Go Away Kid”, a flashy young black player with much gamble.
“King of the open table”, so called because on the “open Table” ( a 6’ X 12’ snooker table) anyone could play for the time. The King would go months without losing a single game but wouldn’t play for money.



















“One Eyed Hank”, a brilliant but troubled player, spent half of every year at sea, killed himself with an overdose of LSD, or so it was said. I loved Hank and I still miss him.
“Mexican Phil”…A really good One Pocket player, moved like a ghost, was a terrific gambler, but couldn’t leave the bottle alone.
“Okie Sam”…Very good all round player and scuffler. He came from the Eddie Taylor school of pool. He died of cancer, broke and lonely.
Ronnie Allen displayed his power One Pocket game to everybody. He was aggressive and fearless and really unbeatable.
Frank “Bananas” Rodriguez…One of the sharpest gamblers I ever knew. He was a perfect gentleman and a very fine One Pocket player.
Canadian Dick…The resident philosopher. On the 6x12 table by the counter, there was a daily “out hole only” game. To give you an idea how good Dick played, one day in that game, 11 times in a row, he one railed his ball into the out hole. He moved to Burlingame and managed a pet store until he passed away.
“San Jose Dick”…He liked action so much that he would sometimes rent two tables next to each other and play two opponents at once. For awhile, Dick played about as good a One Pocket as anybody in the world.
Jack Perkins…A flashy young and sharp gambler who played One Pocket about a ball under Ronnie.
“Harry the Russian”…Used to hang around with “Bananas”. Harry was a good game maker and took care of himself.
“Hawaiian Paul”…Worked at the Palace down the street. Paul played as good a Nine Ball as anybody in the world but only against weak players and for small money. ($3 to $10 a game) Paul also played very good golf.
Rusty Jones, a high roller and one of the classiest gamblers I ever knew.
Denny Searcy, the best stroke of any player ever. It’s too bad scientists didn’t examine it when he was maybe the best player in the world.
Philipino Gene, a good card player and hustler.
“Oakland Blackie”, Bucktooth’s uncle and a top shortstop.
Earl Phillips, a venerable older player who never said a word but was tough to beat for the dough.
“Sleepy Bob”, a very fine player.
Johnny Vivas, played everything good, too bad he was a heroin addict.
Tugboat Whaley, grand old-timer who was one of the few willing to share knowledge.
While I was there, notable visitors included: Clem, Boston Shorty, Artie from Chicago, Jack Stamper, Eddie Taylor, Richie Florence, Weldon Rogers, Jack Coony, Al the Plumber, Portland Don, Cole Dickson, and Joe Salazar (Tracy Joe then.).
Quite a crew, wouldn't you say?
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  #2  
Old 05-13-2006, 06:15 PM
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fred bentivegna fred bentivegna is offline
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Default Kansas City Whitey

Grady, I have to insert this. Kansas City Whitey hung at Bensingers for awhile. He was a fall down, pitiful, gutter drunk wino. He played OK, but his claim to fame--as far as I'm concerned-- was that his favorite drinking buddy from skid-row was none other than Richard Speck. The same guy who murdered the 8 nurses in Chicago. A great line from Whitey, "I cant believe Richie would do a thing like that." He called him Richie!

Didn't some old champ named Kimball hang out at Cochran's also?
the Beard
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Old 05-13-2006, 06:18 PM
Grady Grady is offline
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I think so, Freddie. I didn't mention everybody I remembered, like Joe Procita, whom you knew. And Leon Yonders.
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Old 05-14-2006, 02:14 AM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred bentivegna
Grady, I have to insert this. Kansas City Whitey hung at Bensingers for awhile. He was a fall down, pitiful, gutter drunk wino. He played OK, but his claim to fame--as far as I'm concerned-- was that his favorite drinking buddy from skid-row was none other than Richard Speck. The same guy who murdered the 8 nurses in Chicago. A great line from Whitey, "I cant believe Richie would do a thing like that." He called him Richie!

Didn't some old champ named Kimball hang out at Cochran's also?
the Beard
The Whity at Cocorans could not play a lick. He stunk like a sewer. Bucktooth and I were talking about him awhile back,3k a month was what we thought the stay away money was. Clarence Kimbel was a pal of Tugboat Whaleys, maybe older than Tugboat. Clem played him 9 to 7. Hawaian Paul watched the match, he told me thats when he knew Clem was a great player. Kimbel was in his seventys then 1959.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:30 AM
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NH Steve NH Steve is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grady
Cochran’s was anything and everything, simply the greatest pool room ever.
“Okie Sam”…Very good all round player and scuffler. He came from the Eddie Taylor school of pool. He died of cancer, broke and lonely.
Apparently Okie Sam had been one of Eddie's closest friends, 'like a brother' was the way Eddie described him when I interviewed him a couple of years ago. According to Eddie they were road partners for years, until they parted when Sam (Crotzer?) moved to California, which is when he got the 'Okie Sam' name. Previously he had been 'Nashville Sam'.

Apparently 'Okie' was a common Californian perjurative term for itinerant newcomers -- mostly directed toward the farm workers and dust bowl refugees, but in this case directed toward an itinerant road player

Wickipedia 'Okie' entry
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:22 AM
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fred bentivegna fred bentivegna is offline
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Default Cryin Sam

Quote:
Originally Posted by NH Steve
Apparently Okie Sam had been one of Eddie's closest friends, 'like a brother' was the way Eddie described him when I interviewed him a couple of years ago. According to Eddie they were road partners for years, until they parted when Sam (Crotzer?) moved to California, which is when he got the 'Okie Sam' name. Previously he had been 'Nashville Sam'.

Apparently 'Okie' was a common Californian perjurative term for itinerant newcomers -- mostly directed toward the farm workers and dust bowl refugees, but in this case directed toward an itinerant road player

Wickipedia 'Okie' entry
He had another nickname. Cryin Sam Crotcher. Aptly named because when he was stuck, he would groan and cry like banshee. Played good banks. One of the first "name" guys I ever beat playing banks.
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  #7  
Old 05-14-2006, 01:00 PM
mbvl mbvl is offline
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Grady,

When I moved to SF in 1969 Cochran's was fading fast and got closed down (for drug dealing?) sometime in the 70s. All the action moved to the Palace. Earl Whitehead and Denny Searcy were regulars, and Ears and Trees were there every day. Was "Hawaiian Paul" Paul Silva? (a house man -- I knew him as "nine-ball Paul")

Of all those people I only know of two who are still around: Philipino Gene and "Go 'way" Jesse.

Edit: I forgot -- Cole Dickson is still playing in the area.

Last edited by mbvl; 05-14-2006 at 01:52 PM.
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  #8  
Old 05-14-2006, 01:56 PM
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Terry Ardeno Terry Ardeno is offline
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Are there any photos that you know of that would show the inside of Cochrane's (or Bennsinger's, St Elmo's, the 7/11, etc?) These stories are very enlightening and I try to imagine what the inside scene looked like. Thanks.
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Old 05-14-2006, 06:42 PM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred bentivegna
Grady, I have to insert this. Kansas City Whitey hung at Bensingers for awhile. He was a fall down, pitiful, gutter drunk wino. He played OK, but his claim to fame--as far as I'm concerned-- was that his favorite drinking buddy from skid-row was none other than Richard Speck. The same guy who murdered the 8 nurses in Chicago. A great line from Whitey, "I cant believe Richie would do a thing like that." He called him Richie!

Didn't some old champ named Kimball hang out at Cochran's also?
the Beard
Early 50's Kimbel plays Whimpy 10 ball on 5 x 10 Kimbel wins.
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  #10  
Old 05-15-2006, 08:29 AM
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fred bentivegna fred bentivegna is offline
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Default The Beard in Bensingers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Ardeno
Are there any photos that you know of that would show the inside of Cochrane's (or Bennsinger's, St Elmo's, the 7/11, etc?) These stories are very enlightening and I try to imagine what the inside scene looked like. Thanks.

Terry, here are 4 pics of me in Bensingers. The second one shows me in my famous Captain America shirt. We could get up on the table when Artie owned the joint because those are 5 x 10's I am playing on, brother! The last pic is me on the bench next to the 6 x 12 snooker table, broke and "carrying the banner." (no place to live) Great seasoning. Great old days!

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Last edited by fred bentivegna; 05-15-2006 at 08:58 AM.
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