Rashid knows several of the players from North Catholic, where he was the "only black guy."
Most of the men who administer the league — co-presidents Henny and Junior, and secretary Paul — play for Yesterday's Tavern in Kensington. At an away game at the El Bar, the team sits together in a corner. Across the room, skinny jeans and a certain kind of mustache predominate. Paul is excited to be someplace new. He takes me on an impromptu tour of the bar, guiding me upstairs to show off a jam session he's discovered on the second floor.
"Wednesday night is my Friday night," he says.
Foto Club captain Dave takes a cigarette break while his team members mess around, Peanut reaching for his beer and Tone enjoying a laugh.
At Foto Club, no one ever picks up the phone. I finally tracked them down at the Polish American Club in Port Richmond. The pool table is in the back, separated by a low-slung partition from two bowling lanes. Teenage boys sit on ledges above the pins, jumping down to reset them after each game.
The club's century-old incorporation certificate is, notes longtime member Bill, mostly in Polish, the neighborhood's dwindling lingua franca.
"It was in its prime in the '50s," before the construction of I-95, the eight-lane behemoth just one block away. "It killed the neighborhood." He recalls the bulldozed homes.
"We used to have fish fights," when the neighborhood was connected to the Delaware River. "They would dump dead fish" and kids could throw them at each other. They would go swim in the river, and then "you'd have to throw away your underwear."
"We needed I-95," adds Bill, whose wife is one highway exit south gambling at SugarHouse Casino. "Don't get me wrong."
I turn to Walt, outfitted in a monogrammed Foto Club shirt, a spider-web tattoo encapsulating his shaven head like an arachnid yarmulke. "We have a variety," says Walt of the white, black and Puerto Rican shooters. "That's why I think we're good."
Some have played professionally and some also shoot for "the Spanish league." Says Walt, "We had to sit out last year. We won a couple of years in a row, and a lot of guys were complaining."
I hear that Joe, watching with his arms crossed, is Foto Club's elder statesman. Says Dave, the team captain, "He's forgot more about pool than we will ever learn."
"I've been playing pool for over 50 years," says Joe, a Port Richmond native. "When I was young, every neighborhood had a poolroom. Now you are lucky if you got three in the whole city."
Bill is worried that the Polish American Club, too, will close if they can't get young people like his son, a soccer fan who frequents the 700 Club in Northern Liberties, to join. "I don't understand how these guys, who don't make any more money than me, pay $6 or $7 for a beer."
A Polish American member shouts out to a Foto Club player circling the table: "Don't shoot with a cigarette in your mouth! Yo!"
Joe used to shoot at a poolroom at Seventh and Chestnut in Center City. "Some of the best shooters in the world came in that place: Minnesota Fats. ... Pool was a really big thing in Philadelphia in those days. All the best shooters in the world came out of Philly. Now they come out of Europe, Asia."
Now 73, he's retired — but not from pool. Not ever. "Pool is an interesting game. We're all pool-drunk."
"It'll consume your whole life," adds Foto Club member Frank. But his attention, like most everyone's, quickly shifts back to the game.