Tales from the Morgue: Billiards is a clean game

2014-02-04T09:00:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Billiards is a clean gameJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 04, 2014 9:00 am  • 

The game of billiards had a better reputation than the game of pool in 1914, it would seem, even though they are the same to many. Perhaps pool halls were the source since they were often considered places of drinking and gambling.

But the larger problem seemed to be keeping underage boys out of the game.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Thursday Feb. 5, 1914:

 

BILLIARDS IS NOW REGARDED AS CLEAN GAME
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Prejudice Because of Name "Pool" Swept Away, Now Game Played by Y. M. C. A. and Church Organizations
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At no period in the history of this country has a wilder interest been displayed in the uplift of the youngster than at present. No movement or movements having for their object the betterment of the juniors have had greater influence than those formulated for the purpose of encouraging clean sport.

Statistics show conclusively that the establishment of small parks and playgrounds have lessened the truancy and improved the physical and moral condition of the youngsters. Right at the present time many of the big golf clubs of the country are cooperating in plans to better the condition of the caddie boys, some of them already having installed swimming baths and small gymnasiums and placed competent instructors in charge of them.

Quite as important as any of these movements is the crusade on behalf of cleaner billiards. Prejudices against the game have gradually been swept away, and its adoption by many Y. M. C. A.s and churches has demonstrated that "the gentlemen's game" is all that its name implies.

There is no denying the fact that the game has suffered from abuses. For many years a pool room was thought by many to be some sort of gambling house, no matter whether it was a billiard room or a place where bets could be placed on horse races. To differentiate between the two, the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company some two years ago inaugurated a movement to substitute the term pocket billiards for the word pool, and in the majority of the larger rooms in the cities the term "pool," as applied to billiards is now obsolete.

This, however, was only a preliminary step in a big plan to wipe out some of the real evils which infest the game and bring it onto undeserved repute.

All over this wide country civic authorities have been confronted with the problem of keeping minors out of billiard rooms, and in many cities they are now getting the co-operation of the roomkeepers.

Recently in Mason City, Iowa, the city commissioners and the billiard room keepers held a joint meeting at which the latter welcomed the suggestion of the commissioners to place notices around their rooms notifying minors they are not permitted to remain there. On this notice is printed a synopsis of state law.

The harmonious action between the commissioners and the billard room keepers already has produced good results.

Other cities have appointed inspectors who make the rounds of the rooms and report violations.

So far these movements have largely been local, but a movement already has been started for a national organization formed of local organizations. The object of the bigger body will be to assist the smaller ones, and by concerted action it is expected that many of the evils will be corrected. Pressure will be brought to bear on room keepers who violate the laws of their respective cities, and in this the men who are seeking to elevate the game are assured of the support of the manufacturers.

One could understand the patrons of a billiard room would not like to compete with teenaged boys for the tables, but wouldn't an easier solution be to have a separate room for the boys to play? Then they are out of the way, out of trouble and still happy.

One hundred years later, it probably doesn't matter anymore.

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About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com