Rack em Up!

By Bill Trbovich

What do a drug store, funeral home and grocery store have in common? Well at one time they were all the location of Durham’s only tobacco store and pool hall. For over a hundred years on any given hot summer’s night, the smell of tobacco would drift through the air and the clack of billiard balls could be heard along Garafraxa Street. For 86 years, billiards and tobacco in Durham were synonymous with the Hastie family.

In 1921, World War 1 veteran Alex Hastie was driving through town to a hockey game in Walkerton when he saw a for sale sign in the window of a tobacco store and billiard hall. A few days later he returned to Durham and bought the tobacco store and billiard hall at 203 Garafraxa Street from Sam Lavine. Today the site is better known as the I.D.A. Drug Mart. 

In 1921, War Veteran Alex Hastie purchased a tobacco shop and billiard hall on Garafraxa Street. It was the beginning of a family business that would last 86 years!
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie.
For 20 years Alex Hastie seen here in 1921, on the right next to Ike Stienacker operated his tobacco shop and billiard hall at 203 Garafraxa Street, the current location of the IDA Drug Mart. In the photo are classic 12 foot snooker table in the foreground and the standard 8 foot tables behind it.
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie

In 1941, Alex moved his enterprise across to the street to 146 Garafraxa Street, which was the former location of the Bell and Bennett Funeral Home and Bryson Morlock’s Grocery Store. Alex and Anne Hastie had five children, Joyce, Isabel, Bill, Graham and Shirley. Graham Hastie worked for his father after school and on Saturdays in the Tobacco Shop and Billiard Hall. In 1959, Graham married Darlene Lunn of Durham and in 1961 they took over the Tobacco Shop and Billiard Hall and the family business continued with their only son Scott following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps working in the store.

Every kind of cigarette, cigar or pipe tobacco was available here and if you wanted to offer a lady a Tiparillo, you could find it at Hastie’s and if you needed at cab, Phil’s Taxi was dispatched from Hastie’s! Magazines, books, lottery tickets and so much more could be found here.

Graham and Darlene Hastie took over the business in 1961 and ran the business until Graham retired in 2007 after 46 years.
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie

No matter your pleasure, snooker, eight ball, hi-lo, Boston or ten ball, Hastie’s catered to everyone. The place had tremendous atmosphere, a whiff of tobacco would curl over the tables, the tongue and grove hardwood floors would creak under the weight of patrons circling the table deciding on their next shot. Traditions were born here, what began as an after school game became a custom, friendships were developed here, there were leagues, pickup games and a comradery that lasted for decades. Names roll off the tongue; Virgil McNabb, Bev Neff, Norm Tucker, Harry Ransome, Royden Collier, Charlie Bennett, Doug Wilton, Tom Saunders, Ken Cluckey, Bill Dwyer, Harry Spiez and Bill Nixon – they all chalked a cue and racked them up!

It wasn’t always a game of pool, a pack of cigarettes or great conversation that brought people through the door. Sometimes it was Graham’s other passion….clock repair! Graham loved to tinker and he loved old clocks and he was extremely proud of the clocks he refurbished.

Graham totally refurbished this clock for the Durham Presbyterian Church. He was also an avid antique automobile collector and his 1929 Model A is still in the family!
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie
Graham Hastie chewing the fat with old friend Bill Nixon. Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie
Snooker is often called the Game of Gentlemen because it was invented by British Army officers in India in the 19th century. The winner often took home ”The Purse” with a game’s wager, at Hastie’s the wager could be a beer, a five spot or best of all, bragging rights!
Photos courtesy of Darlene Hastie
Hastie’s was a Durham institution,  a place where friends could meet and often pass along skills and guidance to the next generation like the grand children, Riley and Alex, shown below.
Photos courtesy of Darlene Hastie
It had been a staple of downtown Durham for 86 years, first his father and then for the final 41 years, under the guidance of Graham Hastie. Hastie’s Tobacco Shop and Billiards went out with class holding an appreciation day for their patrons.
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hastie
On May 28, 2008 Graham Hastie handed over the keys of his building to Dana Watson who reopened it as the Harvest Table.
Photos courtesy of Darlene Hastie