Country came to NYC from West Virginia when he was young, and he brought along his southern drawl – which is why he got his nickname. There was another much older ‘Country’ around NY at that time who Country described as a lemon pool player, but who was “a real smart man” about making games. This was back when Country was young and just trying to learn the game as a teenager in a couple of 116th Street poolrooms in Harlem. He said no one really taught him – “Everything I learned, I just learned by watching and doing.” As he got better he started to bet more money. He also played good straight rail billiards, and was known to have taken billiard players on the road too.
“I used to take Cisero (Murphy) around the country and back him. We were very good friends.” This was before Cisero became well known from tournament wins, and at that time he said people did gamble at Straight Pool. “The last time I took him around, I took him up to Ohio and a guy beat him that shouldn’t have beat him (Ted Elias). But Cisero should have beat him. Cisero was leading by a hundred and something and then he missed an easy shot, and the guy run about a hundred balls on him. He ended up beating Cisero. He woke me up that night and told me he was going to California to play in a tournament and that was it.”
“I won good money in Detroit. I made a lot of money betting on the side and I played myself. I saw a guy bet a 100,000 and he didn’t even watch the guy play; they just woke him up when it was over. I did alright.” By all accounts Country was considered a very good judge of player speed, and he did well backing and betting on other players. He was proud about putting his daughter through college with his pool winnings. Everyone who knew him comments about his well-dressed and dignified manner. Although he was soft-spoken, he was over 6’ tall and had a strong presence wherever he went. In Country’s words, “Pool has been pretty good to me.”
One Pocket HOF’er Billy Incardona said it this way: “Country was one of the smartest pool players ever in life, he never lost for big money, we never played (I wonder why). Country played ‘Jew Paul’ (Paul bruslof) one evening and won around $100,000 or $200,000. Everyone in the pool room was betting on Country. Jew Paul badly wanted to beat Country, (ego thing) but it never happened. It took Paul several weeks to pay the money, I think most of it got payed. After that session Jew Paul took off a lot of time but was back in action about a month later, just like nothing ever happened. Country was clearly one of the special characters of pool hustling; very well respected.”