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 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.
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.