Archive for Saturday, March 29, 2014

40 years ago: Last billiard hall in Lawrence closes down

March 29, 2014


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for March 29, 1974:

A traditional recreational business, usually patronized by men, had passed out of local history. The last billiard hall in Lawrence closed this week as Jayhawk Billiards, 719 Massachusetts Street, was auctioned off. Billiard halls had been valued as a place where "you could sit for a whole day if you wanted to, and never be bothered to buy a drink or play a game or anything," recalled Lloyd Bigsby, who had owned Brunswick Billiards, 710 Mass., from 1945 until his retirement in 1970. Jayhawk Billiards, which had been installed in Carpenters' Hall 37 years earlier, had gone through many owners and had faded to a shadow of its former glory. One of its tables and its back bar had once been part of Clarence "Swede" Wilson's Billiard Parlor, 731 Mass., a business started in 1909 by Williams, who had sometimes entertained his patrons with his accomplished banjo-playing but who had been even better known for his billiard skills. Before "billiard parlor" had become synonymous with "pool hall," the gentleman's game of billiards had been a big attraction, but three-rail and straight-rail billiards had begun to decline in popularity after World War I, Bigsby said. Snooker had become popular at that time, he said, and had remained a strong game until after World War II. Bigsby explained that billiards and snooker were more difficult than the game played in today's pool halls and were not accessible to the "lucky beginner."


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