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Trouble in old-time Phoenix, the pool hall

Let's time-travel back to Phoenix in 1909, where there's trouble. And I mean with a capitol T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for pool! Yes, there's a pool hall in town. It's in the cigar store run by Lewis Baswitz.

And no, I don't mean billiards, which is a respectable game, played by gentlemen. Let me see if I can explain about pool.

Why sure, I'm a billiard player, mighty proud to say it. I consider that the hours I spend with a cue in my hand are golden. Help you cultivate horse sense, and a cool head and a keen eye. Ever take and try to give an iron-clad leave to yourself from a three-rail billiard shot? But anyone can take and shove a ball in a pocket!

This pool hall is at 43 E. Washington Street, right there in the middle of town where anyone can go. I've seen children peeking into the windows. But I say that the presence of a pool table in Phoenix means trouble.

Now I know that you folks are the right kind of parents, and I'm going to be perfectly frank. Would you like to know what kind of conversation goes on while they're loafing around that hall? They'll be trying out Bevo, trying out cubebs, tryin' out tailor mades like cigarette fiends! And bragging all about how they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.

And the next thing you know, your son is playing for money in a pinch-back suit! And listening to some big out-of-town Jasper, hearing him tell about horse-race gambling. Not a wholesome trotting race, no, but a race where they sit down right on the horse! Like to see some stuck-up jockey boy sitting on Dan Patch? Make your blood boil? Well, I should say.

Friends, let me tell you what I mean. You've got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets in a table. Pockets that mark the difference between a gentlemen and a bum, with a capital "B," and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool!

If this sounds familiar, it's the basis of the play, and movie, "The Music Man", written by Meredith Wilson in 1957, based on the book that he and Franklin Lacey wrote. They were poking fun at how much times had changed!


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