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.....Billie-isms, are my thoughts about people and aspects of the billiard world that are essential in my mind for others to know about. Perhaps no one else is going to recognize their significance, but nonetheless I felt the urge to showcase these people, events and my beliefs on certain topics within these pages. Please keep in mind I have a reputation for being controversial, a moniker I treasure.

Ruby Alabama
aka Mary Hurt
Light Jazz, Dixieland and True Friendship

…..I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Hurt at Julian’s Pool Room in NYC around 1980. We were the only two female “regulars” in the room which had become famous because it was the only pool room existing in Manhattan for over a decade. Due to the high costs in rents and the fact that landlords were dividing large retail spaces up into smaller stores, room after room had disappeared until Julian’s was the last room standing until 1991. There were a lot of ‘characters’ in the room, as well as some great players like George Mikula who was an expert in both pool and billiards. (Julian’s had six billiard tables and a small core of 3 cushion devotees.) Mary and I fit right into the eclectic group and became fast friends.
…..We saw each other all the time in those days. And each instance, we greeted each other with a new joke. We shared a lot of them, along with some great laughs. What struck me the most about Mary, besides her superb sense of humor, were her diverse musical abilities. I never knew anyone as talented as she is on so many musical instruments. It was awe-inspiring. And Mary, in return, recognized my pool talents, not only as a player, but as an organizer. Another common ground was that Mary understood the struggles that women faced in society and in the work place; and especially in the pool room.
…..Mary had been playing pool for many years but had not played for any formalized pool organization. She learned about the women’s tour from me and without delay became interested in participating. Eventually she was a common sight at the women’s tournaments along the Eastern States. In true theatrical style, she immediately adopted the moniker that she is well-known by today, Ruby Alabama.
(Ruby Alabama is featured in the "Double or Nothing" Pointers page explaining how to use the 'Verrazano' or double mechanical bridge)

…..Although never rising to the highest level, Ruby enjoyed may successes as a player. Besides playing in many WPBA events, she also participated in the “All About Pool Tour” and the“Tri States Women’s Tour”. Joining the ranks of pool detectives, Ruby always knew more about pool than she could execute. Eager to impart her knowledge to others, she started teaching at the Billiard Club around 1990, and continued coaching at Chelsea Billiards and, later, when it changed hands and became Slate Billiards. Over the years, hundreds of Ruby’s clients have sung her praises as a talented and informative pool instructor.

…..I was not surprised when I visited Ruby a few weeks ago to learn that she had added another dimension to her endless list of abilities. Over the past two years, she has written a screen play entitled,
“The Saints and Sinners of Dixon Falls” (published by Blue Ball Publishing, 2010). Her bio reads:

“Ruby Alabama was born in Anniston, Alabama. She graduated from Birmingham Southern College with a degree in music. Winning the 'Miss Congeniality' in a beauty contest, she received a scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse School of Theatre and then moved to New York City where she still resides.
…..A virtuoso, she plays piano, bass, drums, and trumpet. She has even played the jug, funnel, spoons, and saw on national commercials. Ruby loves humor. She has appeared on various shows for ABC, CBS and NBC, such as Good Day New York, All Star Secrets, NY Views, MSG Profile, the Gong Show and a guest on Dr Ruth Westheimer's show. Her remarkable career as a musician, singer, composer, performer, writer teacher and pool player spans more than 50 years.”

…..Once, Ruby played the spoons for me and agroup of players at Julian’s. We loved it. And again when we played pool at the Pines during the WPBA National Championship, Ruby played the piano in the lounge for the women players. We all surrounded the piano and sang. It was a memorable moment for many of us. I remember a few years ago, Ruby played one of her commercials for me. It had a continuous whistle playing behind the advertisement. I asked Ruby how she could whistle for over a minute without a break. I learned something about music when she explained that she whistled out and in to get the uninterrupted sound. Amazing.

.....Besides touring with the "Mary Hurt Trio", playing light jazz and Dixieland music at the Sheraton and Hilton Hotel circuits, Ruby performed voice overs and wrote jingles for many commercials we're all familiar with over an 18 year period. She joked with Al Roker, and later with Audrey Puente, about the weather and showed them how she played the saw in a Magic Marker commercial. I'm sure they were blown away.

…..I don’t see Ruby very much anymore due to the busy schedules in our lives. And I miss her. I wanted to share with all my fans what a terrific person Ruby is. If you ever run into her, stop and say hello. She’s always open to meeting new people.

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