Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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40 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 THE BIT show soon. e four Dons pair off — Hus- sey and Habig versus Robinson and Filmer — and start their first game of eight-ball. "You're the boss," Hussey says to Robinson, signaling him to take the opening break. Robinson leans over, lines up his shot and — crack! Game on. When I ask how long these weekly pool meetups have been going on, one Don says "forever," another says "at least 10 years," and Robinson says, rather definitively: "It's been eight years." Robinson, I'm told, has the best memory of the bunch. At 103, he's nimble with a timeline: He met his wife, Mary Marguerite, in the late 1930s on a cruise of the Great Lakes. ey married Aug. 20, 1940. ("I might be off a couple days, but I'm close," he says.) ey moved to Louisville in 1965 while he was work- ing as a salesman for Burroughs adding machines. He bought his home in St. Matthews that same year. at's where he and his wife raised four of their of seven children. Fifty-four years later, he still lives there with the help of two daughters who live nearby. He retired Aug. 1, 1977, with plenty of time to spend with his "darling" before she died on May 25, 2009. As for how the Four Dons and a Dave came to find one another, that can be traced back to one of the Dons and Dave. Habig and Vislisel met in the late '50s or early '60s. "We met in prison," Habig says, smiling. (He loves that line.) Habig was working as a social worker, Vislisel as a teacher at the Ken- tucky State Reformatory in La Grange. Habig left after a few years and became a bartender, but the two remained close. Vislisel moved on to teach at a school near Shelbyville, where he met Hussey, then a chemistry teacher. Filmer, he was a friend of a friend. Finally, one of Robinson's daughters hooked her dad into the group. He had to give up golf in 2011, at age 95, and billiards became a great replacement — minimal strain, plenty of chitchat. "Don, you're up," Habig says, making eye contact and pointing to Filmer. (Too many heads swivel without such clarification.) Filmer, who is tall and lean with gray facial hair, doesn't say much, but he's an adventur- er, a guy who "never says no." Years ago, a friend asked him to be an extra in a Kentucky Opera performance. He couldn't say anything but yes. So there was mild-mannered Filmer, dressed as a warrior, toting a spear across a stage. "I'd hum along when no one was watching," he says with a slight smile. Filmer folds over the table, forming a near-perfect 90-degree angle. His pool stick taps the cue ball, like it's got a secret to tell. Filmer ap- proaches the game with a gentle touch. When a ball lazily rolls and practically drips into the pocket, the guys call it "a Filmer." Habig is a bit more impulsive and excited when he plays, which fits his gregarious na- ture. Hussey is serious, analyzing the angles and geometry before making his shot; a master woodworker and artist, he's all about vision and precision. is afternoon, the Habig-Hussey duo plays true to form: Hus- sey goes on a run, Habig sinks the eight ball for the win. "I'm the hero!" Habig says with a laugh. Robinson, he's cool and calm. "But he shoots a mean stick," Habig says. Hussey adds, "We don't take it easy on him." When Robinson misses a shot, Habig says to him, while nodding at me, "Don't curse — she's recording all this." Vislisel, who is shorter than the others and energetic, arrives. e Iowa native has a San Francisco vibe — fleece jacket, easy grin, goatee, rimless and round Kufi-style hat. He's 79, but I'd believe him if he told me he was born in the '60s or even early '70s. Vislisel usually takes Robinson's place once it gets to be 4 p.m. and the 103-year-old calls it a day. It's only 3:45, so Vislisel and I hang back watching the Dons. ey keep to themselves in this cavernous space, blue neon and five glowing televisions providing the mood lighting. In a few hours, the music will be louder, the bar tabs more plentiful, the swarms of pool players hol- lering and fussing at their designated green rectangle. Right now, Diamond is low-key. 103-year-old Don Robinson 79-year-old Dave Vislisel

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