I got to thinking about Cornbread Red after stumbling across this goofy snapshot on the Internet. It's one of a whole bunch of great pool photos that veteran pro Mary Kenniston recently uploaded to her Facebook page. (Thanks Mary!) Burge epitomized the Johnston City generation of pool players that included Boston Shorty, Handsome Danny and the Tuscaloosa Squirrel. He was the subject of a biography, written with Bob Henning, and he also turns up in the autobiography of Minnesota Fats, The Bank Shot.
On page 135 of that last book, in the chapter titled "Exposed By Hollywood," Fats describes encountering Cornbread Red and others in Johnston City. The players were all razzing Fats about being a has-been player. Red became the victim of one of Fats' famous put-downs.
"I really think you're all washed up," Danny said.
"I think so too," Mr. Tuscaloosa Squirrelly chimed in.
"And so do I," said Mr. Cornbread Red. "I think Danny and the Squirrel are right, Fatty. You're finished."
"Is that so?" I said to Mr. Cornbread Red. "Well I'll tell you what I'll do. When I get through with Mr. Handsome Danny, which will be very shortly, it will be your turn to come to the table with the cash, Mr. Cornbread Red. And when I get through busting you down to your last dime and paying your bus fare back to Detroit, you'll be known as No-Bread Red."
That was enough to silence The Breadman but it wasn't enough to convince Mr. Handsome Danny, on account that Handsome kept right on trying to out talk me.Biographer Tom Fox, who co-authored the Bank Shot, apparently witnessed the exchange. I really enjoy that book. It's hilarious. I was able to facilitate its republishing a few years back after it had fallen off into obscurity. The new version was put out by Lyons Press, which also published Hustler Days and The Hustler & The Champ.
Bob Henning's book also is excellent. It's called "Cornbread Red: Pool's Greatest Money Player." You can find it on Amazon or you can order it directly from Henning, at Bebob Publishing. And finally, if you want to read more about Cornbread Red, check out Onepocket.org. Cornbread Red was inducted into the organization's One Pocket Hall of Fame back in 2004.
-- R.A. Dyer