A WORLD COLLAPSES

Last August I wandered around town (Geraldton) snapping photos of streetscapes.  I’m planning to re-issue my history book, Muskeg Tours, with updated information and images. 

I was surprised to learn this week that one of my subjects has collapsed.  When I was a teenager in the ’50s, it was known as Jim’s Pool Room.  This is how one of the dens of iniquity of my youth, looked last August:

In the 1970s it had been reincarnated as a clothing store and billiard hall (pool room – same thing, just a more politically correct name), but for many years now, it has stood vacant.  The weight of accumulated snow proved too much for this ancient structure; it went kablooey last Saturday.  Flatter than a billiard table.

The historic photo below shows the west side of Main Street in 1937, the year in which Geraldton was incorporated as a town.  The white-fronted building with the awning (centre) was Jim’s place of business.  From the ’50s I remember Jim as a burly cigar-chomping presence whose word was law among his chief clientele – the bolder, brassier male adolescent refugees and truants from the high school campus.

In a local eatery the other day, I observed some of these same clients knocking a few balls around a billiard table.  They are much older now, they move carefully, and they speak softly.  The restaurant is smoke-free, families are welcome, and the bar is open. 

On these premises there’s no chance you’ll see a brown-paper package changing hands.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
This entry was posted in GREENSTONE, MUSKEG TOURS 2012 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A WORLD COLLAPSES

  1. marvinallanwilliams says:

    How strange it is to view a town you grew up in, not in wonderment through the eyes of youth, but with the eyes of historian on the way things were.

    E.J., I wrote that in my journal about my own hometown upon seeing it after years of absence. I was struck by just how much it had changed since my youth.

  2. I’ve always found it amazing. Every time I go home to Perryville, nothing has changed. (It’s a very small town, nestled in the Arkansas River Valley.) I can still tell you which families live where, which buildings used to be what, and which other stores ran them out of business, despite their business relying on maybe two thousand people. And then, when I go home to Conway, I can tell you which buildings were torn down, which have changed businesses, etc. etc.

    Going home always has this sweet feeling for me. When I see the things that are familiar, my heart surges with emotion (usually I want to cry). When I see the things that are new, I’m awed by how things change.

  3. John Lavoie says:

    During the 50’s and 60’s there was a barber shop on the south side of the pool room. The barber shop had a street entrance but there was also an inside connecting door between the two businesses. Fifty cents was the most I ever paid for a haircut there.
    I was always curious about the pool room but all I ever saw of it was what I could glimpse through the communal doorway; only cool cats and toughs hung out there. ‘Common knowledge’ when I was a kid was that you could buy condoms there. Of course, we didn’t know the word condom back then; I think we called them ‘shiefs'(sp)?

  4. EJ Lavoie says:

    I remember the barber shop exactly as you describe it.
    We called them “sheiks” (pronounced as SHEEKS), unaware that was the brand name. I always thought they alluded to Arabic swashbucklers with harems, but I just looked it up in the dictionary, and one meaning is “an Arab chief”, and another meaning is “a man held to be irresistibly attractive to romantic young women”. I am not kidding.

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