The Century, 1847-1946

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Billiards and Cowboy

THE Century Billiard Room is badly lighted and ventilated, and is not a thing of beauty. It has been the despair of successive House Committees, who have installed numerous, generally ineffective gadgets to improve it. And yet I believe no Centurion pool or billiard player would swap it, with its history and tradition, for any other room in the Club. It pulsates with life, like the engine room of a great ship.

The men who frequent the Billiard Room constitute a club -- though in no sense an exclusive one -- within the Club.

Because it cannot tell its own story, let us go to the patriarch of the Billiard Room, Irving Bacheller, born eighty-seven years ago with a cue in his hand, who has shown Centurions how to play billiards for more than thirty years, and is still putting the youngsters in their place. Mr. Bacheller deposes and says:

In January of 1847 our new-born Club was filled with a highly righteous lot of men. No such deviltry as billiards was even considered. The constitution declared: No games of any kind shall be allowed in the rooms of the Association and betting of any kind is strictly prohibited. One brave soul was T. S. Cummings who proposed at the first meeting a more liberal policy as to games by the insertion of the words except chess, draughts, and backgammon. On July 7, however, the plan died, and whiskers and conversation were the only diversions allowed.

On November 4, 1848, other brave souls tried to get the seductive perils of chess and backgammon into the Club rooms, but failed. Another attempt one year later, headed by Edgar S. Van Winkle -- the man who had invented the name of the Century -- met with no better success.

But in that year men were not in a highly cheerful situation. Living was a serious matter for many. An interesting conversationalist was one who had things to say about Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Demosthenes, or about George Washington and his army. The time came when most of the members of the Century had decided that something more than talk was needed in the Club

-273-

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The Century, 1847-1946
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • The Century, 1847-1946 1
  • The Century, 1867-1886 25
  • The Century, 1907-1926 80
  • The Century, 1927-1946 102
  • The Century and American Art 154
  • Poets and the Century 184
  • Memoirs of Centurian Architects 205
  • The Century Library 226
  • The Committee on Admissions 232
  • Finances of the Century 238
  • Drink and Food 259
  • Billiards and Cowboy 273
  • The Year 1947 279
  • Centennial Celebration 282
  • Founders, Officers, Honorary Members 299
  • An Album of Centurions 303
  • Centurions: 1847-1946 363
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