Hanrahan’s lurked in the middle of the block. It was a remnant of an older New York where Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed ruled the roost.
In high school, my favorite subject was cutting classes and going to the Hanrahan’s pool “Parlour.” I am awful at playing pool. But some things you can’t justify, only wonder at the sheer stupidity of it.
For all the time wasted in that Washington Heights pool hall, I can recollect very few details. It was managed by a father/son team. And the clock on the wall was always Eastern Standard Time -no adjustments for Daylight Savings Time. Habituees of the Parlour automatically made the proper calculations or were too early or late for necessary appointments.
Few things ever changed. There were still spitoons by each table dating back to the turn of the century, and there was a separate Ladies’ entrance and waiting room. It was still a male domain, even if the current owner was a female. She waited in the waiting room to receive the daily receipts; Hanrahan’s was a “gentleman’s” domain. Far in the back, down the stairs, were the remains of the speakeasy that Mrs Hanrahan’s husband had run during Prohibition. The massive mahogany bar was empty, but a cooler chest had soft drinks and beer for those of age. There was no underage drinking allowed. Playing hooky for teens was OK, but boozing was not.
Eventually, I was expelled and had no reason to lurk in that area. I took my guitar downtown to Greenwich Village and became a habitue of other disreputable establishments, third-tier coffeehouses, and all-night cafeterias. But I’ve always suspected that Hanrahan’s will still be there lurking in the middle of the block, a tired, half-drunk janitor polishing the spitoons at closing time, the patched ancient tables and the racks of pool cues waiting for the next game. Shall we rack them up?