Joey Aguzin's Pool Tales
Bobby Headrick was a top pool player from
Jackson, Mississippi and we knew each other pretty well. I had just
purchased a new Datsun B 210. It was a standard shift, 4 cylinder and had
a very weak air conditioner but when he asked if I would be interested in
making a road trip, I just had to check with my angel of a wife. She told
me to go and have fun. Eat your heart out guys.
I was 39 years old at the time, loved pool, pinball machines (the gambling kind) and bass fishing. Well I loved the flipper pinball machines too, but the gambling kind 20 hole and 25 hole machines paid off money back in those days. Well the owners of the establishments paid off money if you beat their machines. The gambling pinball machines beat most people but I developed a gift for beating them. It required mongoose like reflexes and find motor skills which I possessed naturally and Bobby knew that I was barred from playing the pinball machines in Jackson so he invited me to to on a road trip. He would play pool for money and I would gamble at the pinball machines wherever we went. Bobby knew I could be counted on for coming out on the positive side with the pinball machines and I knew he could be counted on for the gambling at pool. Back in those days, Bobby was a much better pool player than me.
We left Jackson, headed toward Augusta, Georgia and we would stop along the way, wherever a bar or pool room had a pinball machine. I had discovered that if the pinball machines gave fair odds on the money that you invested and they didn't "tilt" too easy, I could beat almost all of them. We stopped in a little town where they had some new $.10 per game 20 hole machines and it wasn't long before I had the machine up to 1,950 games. That amounted to $195 and that came from about a ten dollar investment. The owner of the pool room walked up to me while the machine was registering the final games and said in a very loud voice, "THE MACHINE IS BROKE". I politely said, "No, it's working fine." He bellowed once more that it was broke and for me to click off the games, get paid and get the hell out of his pool room. Knowing that getting paid was a lot better than the alternative, I collected the $195 and we were back on the road in no time, happy to have made a nice score on the pinball machines. It wasn't the only score we made on the pinball machines but it was the biggest for that trip.
Bobby picked up some cash here and there, winning every time that he played anyone. He didn't play for big money but he always won and I liked that. As we cruised into Augusta, Georgia, we were passing over waterways on low hanging overpasses that covered that part of Augusta, Bobby told me that the motel that we were staying at was at the end of one of the overpasses and being the bass fisherman that I was, I had packed a rod and reel and tackle box for the trip. When we stopped at the motel, it was just about an hour before dark and I hurriedly ask the lady that ran the motel if anyone ever fishes off the road down by the overpasses and she said no and asked why. I told her that I liked to bass fish and wanted to see if I could catch some fish there. She said that nobody every fished there and she didn't think there were any fish in there but the water looked like it could hold some largemouth bass and I was eager to try. I asked her if I caught any fish if she would like to have them, and she laughed and said, "Sure son, if you catch some fish you just bring them back here and I will clean them and cook them up." I hurried down to the water's edge as it must have been a 15 minute walk from the motel and found a nice looking spot. There was about 30 minutes of daylight left and I quickly tied on a broken-tail minnow by Rapala and made a cast. Seconds later my lure disappeared and I set the hook, reeling in a 2 1/2 pound bass. I repeated this over the remaining daylight three more times. When I caught the first bass, I realized that I had left the tackle box because it was too heavy to carry that long distance and it contained the fish stringer that I kept in the box.
I had a pocket knife and quickly cut a reed from the shallows and threaded the long reed through the fish's gills and laid the bass in the shallow water, tying a knot in the reed around the fish's gills and another knot to the standing reeds that remained in the shallows. The bass didn't put up a fight and could breathe in the shallow water so they stayed alive. Anyway, by the time I had caught the fourth bass which also weighed about 2-3 pounds, it was too dark to continue and besides that I didn't know if I was in a dangerous environment of not so I headed back to the motel with the four reeds strung across my back. When I walked in, the lady that ran the motel couldn't see the bass because I had them strung across my back and when I pulled them from my shoulder and back, she almost fainted and yelled that no one had ever caught any fish from those waters. She took the fish but we never tasted any of those cooked fish, leaving early the next morning, headed back to Jackson, MS.
About 3 months later, my wife and I moved back to New Orleans where I was originally from and I told the story to my neighbor who had a brother who lived in Augusta. He talked to his brother and about two months after that, his brother sent him a newspaper article about the lunker bass located in the waterways under the overpasses surrounding Augusta, Georgia. It was nice having the story of the bass being confirmed by another source. I wish I would have kept that newspaper article but I will always have the memories of a fine road trip with a good friend.