“Doc’s Bohemian Cue” A Brief, Simplified, History
In 1972, Paul A. Rutter, a customer Engineer for Control Data Corporation, transferred (with his family) from Columbia Maryland back to the Twin Cities of Minnesota and bought a house in Vadnais Heights. His Brother-In-Law Mike Kelley, a locally respected Race engine builder, knew through family rumors that Paul was a Pool Player. That “Paul” was and is me, Paul A. “Doc” Rutter.
So I was, a semi-innocent young man, that had spent about 20 years entertaining myself, part-time as a “Small Ball” Gambler, playing small stakes, Pay Day poker games & Nine-Ball, big table, “Ring Games” (that escalated from 25 cents up to about 2 Dollars per player), as the day would pass, in the local Baltimore to DC neighborhood pool rooms.
Mike invited me to his local doubles, pool league. Our home base was the local “Trio Bar”, which later on became “Cheap Charlie’s”, on University Ave, in St Paul. Mike is 6’4” tall and he could actually play. So I allowed myself to be drafted.
When I first got in to see the “Barb-Box Battleground” I realized that this was a major change in my style of play, as the league games played were 8-ball, considered at that time, a beginners game in any respectable poolroom, with, *Gasp*, a cue ball that was two and three eighths in diameter, (Regular balls are two and a quarter in diameter) & on a 7 foot table that had kind of a “Postage Stamp” impression.
As time went by, I adjusted considerably. I owned my own cue; (An Original Willie Hoppe), that I bought in Omaha, when I was stationed at Sac HQ, at Offutt Air Force Base, in 1962.
It didn’t take long to notice that some of my teammates were playing with cheap, off the wall, one piece cues, or cheap Taiwanese cues. These cheap 2 piece cues were made of softer wood than Pine, Ramin wood that would not take the daily pounding that the pool games required, they broke easily, and the wrapped handles were made from nylon, variable colored string, which would get loose and come off easily.
So after a, “why don’t you guys get better cues” conversation, followed by a return, “we don’t know where to find them” reply, I jumped in vigorously with, “follow me, i’ll show you”.
Well, it wasn’t that easy, Several places had the junk import cues and about 3 places sold a local inexpensive, but decent quality cue, called a “Schmelke” (WHAT???) that I had never heard of. After some investigation, it was determined that the Schmelke cue was actually pretty good, but manufacturing methods, at that time, the early seventies, were inconsistent. My consulting with Duard Schmelke helped make those cues more consistent as the years went by. It was a two way street as Mr. Schmelke & I became GOOD friends and he taught me as much or more than I taught him.
I wasted a few weeks educating myself and making a few deals with pool rooms and billiard supply houses and finally became a Factory Direct, Schmelke salesman, dragging around some homemade product cases and literally peddling custom two piece cues in the various bars where the league games were played.
I was not accepted with wide open arms as the players were not educated to have their own cues and not trusting some stranger about a product that they were ignorant about. They didn’t know me. Well, forty two years later, they know me now!!! I realized that trying to sell cues in the bars was just uncomfortable and exposed me to some socially awkward situations.
I built a 16x24 foot room onto the back of my two car garage in Vadnais Heights, added a furnace, air conditioner, carpet, insulation, and an 8 foot pool table.
I made all my own cue racks & displays and over the next few years, I worked, as an Electrical Engineer, (I had been promoted), for Control Data all day and ran my Cue Shop every evening and most of Saturday. Sundays I would catch up on my cue repairs. The “Bohemian Cue Service” was born, as a hobby business. I ran it for seven years without taking any money out of the shop. I just kept plowing all sales profits back into cues, cases & billiard supply inventory.
There were several places that sold cues, but only as a side line to Pool table or boat or furniture sales and most of the sales staff didn’t even play pool other than socially, while having a few beers.
Through the mid-seventies & eighties, I introduced every major brand of cues into the twin cities area over the next few years, Viking, Huebler, Adam, Joss, Schon, McDermott, & of course Schmelke, to name a few. Of course there were several “Me too” Startup competitors that would send out fake customers to spy on me then report back to their bosses on what I was up to. That didn’t seem to hurt; it just made me more famous. By then I was considered an expert.
Around 1980 we moved over to the west of Hwy 96 and into a house that had been set up to sell antiques. The first floor was all set up for business and actually had a small parking lot.
At this time Control Data was downsizing and my boss knew I was running a part time business on the side and after some negotiating we settled on enough severance pay to give me a safety net and “The Bohemian Cue Service” was born as a full time business. They had offered me two other positions with the company, but I really wanted to do my own thing, full time.
In1985 it was time to incorporate. Since some customers were confused about the “Bohemian” part of the business name. This was a good time to change. The boys in the leagues and poolrooms, seeing a player break his cue or needing some repairs started saying, “Take it out to the cue Doctor”
I picked up on that and decided that “Doc’s Bohemian Cue Inc.” would ease the awkwardness. It was easier to spell & pronounce Doc’s and as the owner, I became the self-proclaimed “Doc”. Today there are several hundred players that don’t know me by any other name, ha.
In 1987 we bought a small building next to the old “Market Center”, at 85th and Central Avenue, in Spring Lake Park, and now we were an official commercial business, not just some guy working out of a house. We also had enough room to put in about sixteen tables so now we were also a poolroom in addition to our professional Billiards shop.
Coincidentally Jerry Johnson and Andy Bergland opened up C.R. Billiards at almost the same time. We both opened right before the movie “Color of Money” was released. Jerry and I have been in Cahoots ever since.
In 2001 we bought the Market Center, a small six unit strip mall at 8485 Plaza Blvd and moved the cue shop right across the parking lot. Later we also moved the poolroom out of the small building and put it in unit “E” of the Market Center strip mall. The small building got sold to “Dr. Mudspringer” a well known motorcycle shop, owned by Randy DuPaul.
The new larger poolroom lasted until August of 2008, when we closed it. The high school crowd was so busy texting and Game Boying, that playing pool was too hard for them to learn and the peer pressure took them into the world of handheld electronic games.
In 2004 I turned 65 and it was time for my sales manager, Keith Hajny (pronounced High Knee), and yes that is a real Bohemian name, to take over Doc’s, he is the boss now.
Keith and I worked together for 17 years before that & i never kept any cue secrets from him, as I slowly taught him cue manufacturing and repairs. Folks sometimes think we were just a local small business, but Doc’s Bohemian Cue Inc. has a national reputation and four major Cue Manufacturers have referred major cue repairs to our shop when even the original cue makers didn’t want to be bothered with fixing their own cues. Doc’s is also the oldest Schon Cue dealership in the world.
In addition to teaching hundreds of players, during private lessons, how to control their cue balls, in 2011, I wrote a nice book on cue ball control called “The Barefoot Cue Ball”. It sold for $19.95 at Doc’s or online. It is the easiest instruction book you would ever read. No lasers, no surveyor stakes, no computers are required, just plain old Ohio Valley, Redneck, Bohemian, Hillbilly, language that you can understand.
Keith and his work staff have continued to further their education and since we spent years fixing all brands of cues, there is very little that gets by the crew. Today Keith and his elves are turning out some of the best custom cues in the world.
Their brand name is Kanaka Creek, which is named after a famous gold claim in a secret canyon in California. The “Kanaka Creek” cues have no metal pins or screws connecting the sleeve, the handle, & the front. The assembly is all threaded, and glued with “Space Age” epoxy that is not commercially available to private hobbyists. These cues are put together RIGHT and they play like it.
I could have any brand cue I wanted and in addition to Bob Runde’s or my own, I have 3 Kanaka Creek cues that I play with every week at leagues. They are as good as any I have ever played with and the finish is the same as on Chevrolet’s new Corvettes.
Keith still allows Doc’s customers to chalk up a brand new cue and hit balls with it so they know, for sure, what they are buying. How about that?
Doc’s Bohemian Cue is still the “Best Damn Cue & Dart Shop in the State”
8485 Plaza Blvd NE, Spring Lake Park, MN. 55432
763-786-5823 or firstname.lastname@example.org