Whatever happened to …

… pool halls?

There was one very common gathering place for us as teenagers. It was the pool hall downtown. We’d go there to eat lunch during school days and hang out after school.

The front part of the pool hall had a cash register area, they sold magazines and candy but the big draw was either the bowling alleys or the pool tables. There were two bowling alleys on the left and three pool tables on the right running the length of the building. In terms of the pool tables, there was a billiards table at the front and two pool tables behind.

Particularly at lunch, we’d rush to get there because only a limited number of people got to play. You’d yell “Lights on 3” and the manager would turn the light over table 3 on and the clock would start. You’d pay for the right to play in 15 minute intervals and pay on the way out.

For the most part, we’d play on the back two tables and the billiards table out front was reserved for serious players. If the vice-principal needed to track down anyone truant from school, this would have been one of his first stops. We were serious about this, using applied physics. Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection. Force equals mass times acceleration. It’s pretty heady stuff.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

At one point, my parents bought my brother and I a smaller table for at home. We had to set it up in the basement and even finding a location was an indication of how much room a setup typically takes. I suspect that this may be the reason for the lack of pool halls anymore; they just take up too much room. You can put a lot of arcade games into the same place.

I’d be hard pressed to tell you where to play a game of pool around here anymore. There was a place just outside town with an arcade and one table but it closed down due to the lockdown. And, sadly, the old pool hall in my home town has long since closed.

For a Sunday morning, your thoughts …

  • can you name a place in your community where you could actually go and play a game of pool?
  • in the game of billiards, there are 15 red balls and a number of other coloured balls. Can you name the other colours and point value of each?
  • two tools of the trade are blue chalk and baby powder. What for?
  • before you start, you need to get a cue. Typically, you’d take one from the rack on the wall and you’d roll it on the top of the pool table. Why?
  • one of the rules is that you need to keep one foot on the floor at all times. There are times when that’s physically impossible but there’s a tool for that. Do you know what it is?
  • one of the worst things you can do is “scratch” while playing. What is that?
  • the pool hall was definitely a male attended place. Why don’t women typically go there? After all, there are some really good players you see on television at times

I know that there are lots of crime movies where transactions were done in pool halls but it also can be a place for gathering and gaming. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Please let us know in the comments below.

This is part of a regular Sunday morning series of posts. You can check them all out here.

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, I don’t have a lot of pool hall experiences, but there is one not very far away from me. I went there a few times with friends from high school. This was never a huge hang out space for us, but your post has me wondering if others have bigger pool hall memories or stories. I hope they share.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s one ‘just around the corner’ from where I live, Doug. I imagine the kids from Brennan hang out there as there’s a McDonald’s and a breakfast joint nearby. You can’t tell though, because the small rectangular windows are too high up, by design.

    Pool never held the same fascination for me that it did to others, though I’ve never minded playing the occasional game in someone’s basement or at Hurricane’s, which you’ll remember wasn’t far from Forster or the Sandwich Brewing Co.

    I’ll have you a game next time we get together in Sandwich, if you’d like.

    I also remember that the old Number One Firehall had a table upstairs, and my father was very, very good. (Perhaps a product of a mis-spent youth?) Beautiful hardwood, dazzling green felt top, leather mesh pockets…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: My Week Ending 2021-06-27 – doug — off the record

  4. I think I know the answer to each of your questions. The courtship for my ill-fated first marriage was spent mainly in a pool hall. I know…how did I not see that enormous red flag?! But I digress. There is a pool hall in my city, with a bowling alley upstairs. There’s even a league for kids!


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