The Royal Bar & Grille was one of my favorite haunts and the most popular pool room in town. My dad played pool and drank beer in there at night. I enjoyed a bowl of Chili at the bar on a stool many times. I remember the big jug of pickled eggs always kept on the bar. The pool tables were of professional quality and they had a big 9-ball game every Saturday night. The regulars were excellent pool players and it was fascinating for me to watch. It made a big impression on me and later on I took up the game myself.
I loved downtown and I knew where all the good places were. Weekday nights and Saturdays I had a regular route I would run. The cops knew my dad and they never bothered me even in the pool room. In fact, by the time I was fourteen, if the cops saw me somewhere they would tell me my dad was in the pool room too drunk to drive knowing I would go get him and drive him home myself, and they wouldn't have to pick him up. We also ate at the Hazard Lunch. My dad favored the steaks there for a dollar. I remember the old guy had the original Budweiser painting on the wall of the Custer Massacre. Used to study that closely ever visit. Used to get great milkshakes in Fouts Drug for a quarter along with a package of two cookies. I knew the girls in there and they would make sure mine were nice and thick. My uncle, Sam Burke was the manager there for a while when he returned from WWII. I ate many good lunches at Ma Combs restaurant down by the bridge and also liked the lunch counter at Newberry's where they served the new Bird's Eye giant frozen peas.
I was always impressed with how Hazard kept up with the automobile craze. Everybody and his brother had a decent car that was their pride and joy. They always went downtown on the weekends and jockyed for a parking spot. Sometimes making 5 or 6 loops before one opened up.
I wasn't really a loner. I had friends all over. But when I got ready to go out and roam around I didn't need a group to go with me. I got into delivering newspapers for a while with my buddy. I believe his name Hershel Crowe? I worked will Bill Horn at Sluders. He was a loner, too. My newspaper buddy and I went over to the Railroad Station about 5 o'clock everyday and picked up a bundle of Knoxville News Sentinel and hawked them downtown for a nickel. All the old farmers and drunks enjoyed reading the Sentinel and we had no trouble selling out every night. We hit the Perry County Court House and all the bars and pool rooms and up and down both sides of Main Street.
I occasionally went to see Dr. Morgan for various treatments. He was upstairs over Fouts Drugs. Over the years I bought a football, basketball, baseballs and glove, among other things at Sterling Hardware. There were no sporting goods stores back then. We bought .22 ammo and BBs and bicycle parts at Firestone and Western Auto. And the barber shop was in between the pool room and the Hazard Lunch.
There were several tough guys who hung around town. I remember when they built the so called Mall between the theatre and the drug store it was convenient for me to walk through there on my way home up Baker Hill. One night one of these bad guys grabbed me by the arm and stuck a snub-nosed in my ribs and forced me to go with him somewhere. He was drunk and a little squirrelly and I just played it cool. He was rambling on about the places he had broken into and robbed, and I acted impressed. After we walked across the bridge I pushed him down and took off up the back trail to my house. Climbing quickly up the path I knew he couldn't catch me but thought he might follow anyway. I got home, grabbed my .22 rifle, eased back down the hill and found a good place for an ambush. I waited quietly for a while but he never got up that far. He was a lucky man, because I would have killed him and nobody would have ever known who it was. That's the way it was back then. No, I didn't go to the police. But I did see him a couple times after that. He looked at me curiously but apparently couldn't figure out who I was. He was from Viper or Vicco.