Monday, April 13, 2009

"The Pool Hall!"

"Trouble, that starts with "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Pool! We've got trouble my friends, right here in River City!" I'm sure you'll recognize those words of Prof. Harold Hill in "The Music Man!" Heard the lyrics the other day and I started thinking about the pool hall in Cedar Vale! I'm sure many of you remember the pool hall as an integral part of your education! So, here goes with a few memories of our pool hall!

Art Radcliff was the owner and Sonny Duensing was one of the faithful employees. Remember Sonny's great smile? He even showed us how to "rack" the pool balls! Well, you walked in and to your left was the "buy-things-off-the-shelves" merchandise, like candy, gum, cigarettes and chewing tobacco, among other things! Then came the "snooker" table. I held it in awe! A bunch of us young sprouts practiced "pool" on the tables in the back of the room. Never made it to the "snooker" table! Once, I worked up enough courage to ask ("Nick Adams?"), a famous C.V. snooker player, if I could play a game with him. He said, "Don, just keep practicing on those back tables!" He wore a beautiful ivory-colored Stetson hat, shirt pressed just so, and a crease in trousers that cut butter! He had a fancy belt with an elegant buckle, but not the kind that blinds you when the sun hits it. He was a kind of hero to me! Well, I've been "snookered" many times, and when that happens, I just go back to the "back tables!"

In the left corner of the large room, was the poker table! I can remember the chips. They were made of thin metal with scalloped edges. I can hear their metallic sounds as the players exchanged this strange sort of money! We" youngin's" kept our distance as we watched the "men" wheel and deal! Once in a while a lively game of pinochle was played. It was o.k., but it was those poker games that fascinated us!

On the south side of the room was a bowling alley! On occasion, a few of us got to be "pin-setters!" We sat up on a ledge at the end of the alley, watching those balls spinning their way toward the pins! Then came the explosion! Pins went everywhere, denting the wooden/hard plastic pit where they landed and once in a while, some flew up to where we were sitting! Sometimes a "7-10 split" would occur, when only the two pins on the outside of the back row were standing! One could almost hear one pin say to the other, "For sure, one of us is going a'skiddle, unless his beer makes him roll it right down the middle!"

I've probably gone on too long. Got started and couldn't stop! I'm anxious to hear your "pool hall" experiences right here in Cedar Vale City, and that starts with "C," which rhymes with "P," and that stands for POOL!!!!



16 comments:

Dick Williams said...

I remember the pool hall very well. It, along with Hankins
Drug Store was my home away from home. We were told not to go in there, probably because dad did not want us to see him. Needless to say, when you are told not to do something, you do it. I don't remember the bowling lane, but I became pretty good at pool. Bill liked the cards, and still does. He plays almost every day in Hutch.
I remember a traveling salesman who would come in there occasionaly and would clean everyones clock. Sonny worked for my dad as a nightwatchman and slept there at night after closing the pool hall. Why? I don't know, I don't remember any burglaries while growing up in CV. Do You?
Dick

Don Shaffer said...

Dick, so good to hear from you! I remember those days when we played basketball in your "backyard!" We had some "wars!" I remember the baled hay behind the goal post that kept us from running into the fence! I don't remember who put the goal and pole in the ground! I think our Dads had something to do with it! I just remember those wonderful games! Mud and all! Our Dads must have said, "If we build it, they will come!" Well, we did! And that memory is etched in my mind forever! "Hearing" you talk about Bill was very special, also! Bill was one of my most close friends! Glad to know he is still playing cards in Hutch! And, my dear friend, before I leave, I must tell you that YOU were a pitcher! My Dad, who was an old-time pitcher, said, "That boy can pitch!" Coming from him, that said a lot! I hope you're still pitching! P.S. I seem to remember your encounter with a washing machine wringer! As serious as that was, you rose above it! You see, you, even then, were that kind of man! Good talking to you Dick! Tell Bill I said "hello!"

Phil Foust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ola Utt said...

I was always to young to think about the pool hall but I do remember all the old men and my sister and I called them that sat out front during the day as we would walk to the drug store or post office from the produce. I remember all of you who blog because my folks always took us to all the ball games at school. I know you will all remember my father Grant.

Phil Foust said...

Hello, Ola ... great to see ya!

DFCox said...

Pinochele was my game, I used to play on slow summer afternoons when the Veterinary calls were scarce. If there was a poker game I didn't know it or I might have been doing that. There were some partnerships at the tables, but by and large we liked to play "cutthroat" (no partner). Several of the old guys knew that no one was worthy of being their partner. A bag of peanuts and a bottle of pop served as refreshments. I would never have known much about some of those characters had I not played cards with them. Some who I considered marginal losers were crafty as all get out at the card table.

wayne woodruff said...

Yes, Ola, we all remember Grant Utt. It was a pleasure to watch him play baseball, and for a kid, it was nice just to be around him, either at the produce or at the ballpark.

Pat Pate Molder said...

Ola, I remember your Dad coming into the bank to get all different denominations of money for his produce business..........always pleasant, cheerful, fun and a pleasure to wait on him.

wayne woodruff said...

Ola, what ever happened to Gary Utt?? He was a frequent visitor to CV during the summers in the early fifties..

Tom Johnston said...

Yes I remember the Pool Hall very well. I played a lot of Pool and Pinochle with my Dad and brother Dub there. I also shined shoes there on Saturdays. I don't remember the Poker games but it does not suprise me.
The Bowling Alley was the old bowling lane as the pins were the Duck Pins and yes they would fly anywhere.
I used to love to play my mothers brother, Jack Myers, as he was a very good pool and snooker player and I never could beat him. I am sure Dick and Bill would remember him. That is enough out of me.

Phil Foust said...

Ola, your Dad and CV Baseball are synonymous. More importantly ... he was a fine man!

Don Shaffer said...

Dear Ola,

Your Dad and baseball seem to rhyme! I can see him there at the plate, huge man, patiently waiting for the next pitch! In the stands, we, of lesser talents, waited for the next pitch, to see what our "mighty Casey" would do! Often, he would lift a fly ball, that seemed to travel a distance only eyes better than ours could see! There he was, trotting around the bases, home-run in hand! We would cheer the Cedar Vale Cheer, and know that we were that much closer to victory!

Those were the days, my friend, when "people" from town would come down to the ball park and "drag the diamond," so it would be in the best condition to meet the next conquest! Wish we had "digital" in those days! We could have captured many magic moments! But,you know, capturing them in memories means so much more! Memories don't fade. Memories won't be misplaced! Memories won't be given to those who might say, "whatever could that have meant?!" I will leave with this one story, Ola! On one occasion, I remember your Dad saying, "I hit it twice as far, and got a double! Kenny Marshall hit it that far and got a 'home-run!' Kenny could run. Grant could hit. Therein lies the "story" of LIFE! So good talking to you, Ola!

P.S. Either you or your sister "did' my Mother's hair! She held you in such high esteem! I want to thank you for bringing a joy to her life! And, when I think of it, bringing joy to someone's life, is what life is all about! WE LOVE YOU!

Anonymous said...

Wayne asked about Gary Utt. He's a retired police officer, lives here in Winfield and is married(2nd
time.) He has some grandkids who live in Wichita, I think. I don't
know how long he played baseball.

Gary's sister, Jody Odell, is a very good friend of mine.

Dick Williams said...

Wayne,
Was Gary Utt the catcher from Burden who could throw the ball back to us faster than we could throw the ball to him?

Anonymous said...

Yep, he was the one. I think some of our guys resented Gary being allowed in the line-up because he was not a local, but it helped to be a relative of Grants.

Gary White said...

Finally getting around to checking in on this post. I have very few memories of the pool hall, except the rather dim, smoky atmosphere. If my mother had caught my dad (or me) in that "den of iniquity" she would have skinned us both. Nevertheless, I did venture in from time to time. Was that place ever swept out?