As a player
Garten started playing pool when he was 14 years old — playing on the road, off and on, for many years. It was during this time that he was fortunate enough to meet, play, and make friends with many great players including : Willie Mosconi, Jimmy Caras, Luther Lassiter, Eddie Taylor, Joe Balsis, Jimmy Marino, Earl Strickland, Jim Rempe (who he made a cue for), Dan McGorty, Jackie Gleason, Fred Astaire, Don Willis (who no one could beat to his knowledge), and many others during his travels. He also worked with Max Eberle as a youngster in Ohio, who then won the Junior Nationals, and after working with him another summer, won the College Title. Garten has been, and continues to be, very proud of Max and what he has accomplished as both a player and person.
Machinist, Construction, Billiard Business
Most of the members of Garten's family were machinists including his father. He was taught how to properly run lathes, milling machines, and other machine shop equipment at a very young age. This led to owning a construction company later in life doing masonry work, remodeling, and home building. With pool still being a big part of his life he partnered in a Brunswick Dealership during which time he became, and still is, a certified Brunswick table mechanic. After the billiard business he went to work for Allied Machine & Engineering Corporation doing machining work until he retired. It would be his retirement that would lead to spending more time building cues and honing the methods and processes he uses to construct them.
Garten was always fascinated with cue making from the time he started to play pool, and over the years, tried to find out as much information as possible on how each cue maker constructed their cues. Using machines purchased while having the billiard business he began to play around with different ways cues could be made and how those methods affected the final outcome and playability of the cue. He researched the properties of different woods, glues, and what was best suited for the type of cues he desired to create. Garten also read many books on wood working, lutherie (musical instrument making), and the harmonic resonance of different woods, which in his opinion, is a very important aspect in cue making. It was around this time that Paul Mottey asked Garten to work under his tutelage with him in Pittsburgh, but with his family in Ohio he declined the offer. After many years of trials (and errors) Garten is finally at a point where he is happy with the cues he produces and takes great pride in how they feel and play to those that use them. The praises he receives from players using his cues backs up those feelings he has.