A Shot of Vodka, a Pool Table, and Thou

Bronson with a Grimace

Okay. It is the simple things in life that make me the happiest. Just give me a pool table, my cue (“taco” for my Hispanic friends), a Vodka drink, my son Bronson and my son-in-law Sam, and a trendy, billiard hall and I am a happy woman. I will even say that it is “the best night of my life” because I am in the moment and it makes me so happy. This was the opportunity for my two sons to baptize their new cue cases and to use the two sticks my father used to shoot with. Like me, even warped, they are special.

Playing pool has been such an integral part of my life. My father, Benjamin Van Dyke, Jr, was an incredible man. He helped to rear me and my brother, Benjamin Van Dyke, III, (Van), and he was an amazing man – a role model for my son, Bronson Behrendt Page. Do I really have to say that none of us is perfect? Good.

Daddy taught me and Van how to shoot pool on a pool table that he built in our basement. He also helped my grandfather, Ben Sr., to build a table in his basement. I recall that Van and I did not really get “it” at first. Every time that my father said, “Pool is more than a game.”, I wanted to choke him. But, as time went by, we learned.

As far as my father was concerned, it taught timing, placement, finesse, angles, social skills, a little sandbagging technique and you freakin’ name it. As far as Van was concerned, it was a way of showing knack and a chance to saunter; he was amazing. He was absolutely the best at saunter. I know that he continued to shoot stick in the USN…probably made a few bucks with it. Bronson got it rather early on. He played so that he could do something with his grandfather that his grandfather really enjoyed. My dad was very proud of Bronson on every front; that he could play pool made my father’s heart smile!

sam-and-me.jpgAs for me? Pool was a way to be noticed, to shine, to be different. “And you shoot pool?!” However, you cannot help but come away with some of all the other stuff that your father has intended you to learn. Later on, I would meet Willie Mosconi and take some priceless lessons from him on how to shoot a mean stick. I did shoot some stick for Brunswick and even shot some pool with the Playboy Bunnies on a promotional tour/exhibit in New York. Got my face in the New York Times with an article, “Conny Takes a Cue”.  As an old acquaintance, Chuck Barry, would say, “It Goes to Show you Never Can Tell”!

Sam had not been your typical poolroom gyro. Notwithstanding, he, like Bronson, is a natural. It was fun just checking out los tipos there and they make a great burger. (Bronson showed me the best way to eat the fries with the burger; take the top off of the bun, slide a few fries on top, close the bun. I’ll never eat fries and burger the old way again.) When we ordered, I was certain that I wasn’t hungry. But, as soon as the food arrived, the hunger came alive like it does when you go to a hockey game!

Bronson and Sam

I shot not worth a damn. Too much to take in around me and…haven’t shot for some time. The guys were good and made some extraordinary shots. Next time, we have to go to a quieter neighborhood place. Less to distract this old broad and maybe I won’t feel as obliged to do well in order to be noticed! After all these years, I still do that. Shocker.

Thank you Bronson and Sam for a night I’ll not forget. Remember that there are plenty more times like that in our future!



4 Responses to “A Shot of Vodka, a Pool Table, and Thou”

  1. […] michellespagefornonni wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  2. The pleasure was all ours. Thanks for keeping the Van Dyke billiard dream alive. I’m so excited that Sam gets a chance to learn from you. XO, Bronson

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  4. It was a great night. We had so many wonderful memories together, the three of us. I will always be grateful for our time together as a family. You deepened my understanding of life, and of love. I will always look with fondness upon the memory of playing pool with you and your beautiful son, Conny Van Dyke.

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