Old school pool

The Poke and Hope Gang from North Central Seniors went on an excursion Wednesday to try their hand at a competition-size billiards table stretching six feet by 12 feet long at The Exploration Place that dates back to 1910 when it arrived via the BX sternwheeler.

With pockets a bit narrower, the balls a bit smaller and the men playing poker pool, they all had to reach a bit farther than on most pool playing days so it quickly became a matter of who adapted the fastest to see who would rule the table.

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"Man, that's a lot of table," said Howard Foot, president of the North Central Seniors Association, gazing at the sheer girth of the green surface on which the billiard balls rested before the break.

The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre acquired the table in 2003 by donation from the Kordyban family with the stipulation that it be played.

"When we first did the installation I know the installer said there wasn't another table like it in town," said Tracy Calogheros, chief executive officer of The Exploration Place.

"We had to get a lift to install the table because the slate in it is so thick. It's a monster table."

The table was originally owned by T.A. Griffith who built his billiard hall on Fourth Street, which is now known as Queensway Street. Griffith bought the table from a pool hall in the Kootenays and it was sent by freight wagon from Penticton to Soda Creek. It was then loaded for river transport on the Fraser and arrived in South Fort George by paddlewheeler.

This recollection was provided to Valerie Kordyban by Ted Williams, who purchased the table when Griffith passed away in 1960 and all the tables were sold and the hall closed.

Other groups come into the museum to play pool as well.

"The guys tell me they really like it because there's no loud music, there's no smoke and it's not dark," said Calogheros. "It's a nice environment for them to be in."

The interaction between players and other visitors to the museum sees adults sharing glimpses of history with youngsters and many conversations amongst the adults starting with 'do you remember when.'"

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