I read your article on Don “Waterdog” Edwards with interest [January 12]. It is very well written and certainly captures the essence of how drugs can destroy a human life. But I am afraid that the article does both pool and Chris’s Billiards a disservice. I’m concerned that readers might infer that this is also what pool can and will do. I am president of the Oliva Women’s Pool League, which has played there every Tuesday night since the original “Chris” opened it. We’ve been fighting that “Trouble in River City” image for over 30 years. Yes, we certainly agree that Chris’s has that old-time look and feel of The Hustler. It was precisely this ambience that Coppola wanted to capture in The Color of Money. A couple of our members are in it and can attest to the enthusiasm he had about the place, as did Newman and Cruise. But we are talking about appearances, not the actuality. Keep in mind that there is a certain seedy glamour that is often deliberately re-created in jazz and blues bars, for that feel of authenticity. Our league has been around since 1967, and includes nurses, lawyers, computer nerds, investment counselors, dental technicians, office managers, and policewomen. I take my grandkids there often, to learn a family sport. We know Waterdog and sometimes give him a couple of bucks for advice on some finer points of the game, but we have never had an untoward incident either inside or outside the poolroom. Alcohol isn’t served there, which is one reason the serious players go there, because alcohol (or drugs) and good pool don’t mix–ask Waterdog. Another is the rates. I teach pool fundamentals at Chris’s and at Philosofur’s, a really nice room at Sheffield and Diversey. Table time costs double when you add ferns, nice paint, and excellent food. Serious pool players get scarce on date nights, to avoid teeny-boppers and the “tourists,” but you can watch excellence during the Sunday noon nine-ball tournament. Oliva League members make it our mission to teach women the sport we love, and want people to know that the game cannot be blamed for the gamblers, hustlers, and reprobates that attached themselves to it in the past. Queen Victoria, Mark Twain, and Teddy Roosevelt were pool lovers as well. As for Waterdog, like the members of any addict’s family, we will have to stand by and watch helplessly as he continues his self-destruction. It is our sorrow.


Pat Hays

W. Thorndale