POOL ROOM ANTICS
By Linda C Butler
Told by her Dad, Charlie Vance
In 1932, I was in The Pas and I obtained a job winter fishing at Thicket Portage, Mile 185 on the Hudson Bay Railway.
This was in the Depression and we had no money to travel with, but our boss purchased one ticket for himself as he needed a ticket to check the seven sleigh dogs in the baggage car. None of us fellows had money to purchase train tickets but we went to the train and got on, expecting that the conductor would ask us to leave, but to our surprise he let us stay. We wondered if he wanted us to have the opportunity to work, when jobs were so scarce. I learned later that there were a lot of people on the train who had not purchased tickets and he used his discretion when asking passengers to leave.
The train stopped at Wabowden for the night but we had no money us for a hotel room. There were bunks and mattresses on the train and we could have spent the night there, but in those days body lice was common and we knew that if we slept on the mattresses we would become infested.
We walked into the business area of Wabowden and found a pool hall that was open overnight. The proprietor told us that we could remain in the building as long as we were playing pool, which cost 5 cents a game. It was wintertime and we needed a warm place to spend the night. I was 23 years old and somewhat of a pool shark as I had played for money when I worked at Flin Flon. We talked it over and counted our money; between the group we had a dollar and thirty-five cents. There were a lot of pool players in the hall and it was agreed that I would take our money and try to win for us.
I started to play while the others stood around. The other fellows eventually tired of watching and they dozed in the chairs. Eventually I was a couple dollars ahead and I woke the others so that they could play while I slept. Throughout the night the money went back and forth while the proprietor got his nickel for every game we played.
We spent a warm enjoyable night in Wabowden playing pool but about daybreak we were broke. It was time to board the train again and we walked out of the pool hall to the train and continued to the winter fish camp to start our jobs as fishermen.
© Linda Butler 2013