Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fats, Du Quoin and the G-Men

John Croessman, the publisher of The Du Quoin Evening Call, wrote to me a few years back about Minnesota Fats. Du Quoin, as you may recall, was where Fats and his first wife Evelyn called home for many years. This is a small anecdote, but it's colorful and so I figured I'd post it up. Fats had some trouble with the IRS during his later years in Du Quoin -- but he always kept his sense of humor about it.

Here's what Mr. Croessman wrote:

I was a close friend of Minnesota Fats for many years. When he wasn't playing pool he would collect meat scraps from local butchers and feed dogs all over Du Quoin and Dowell. One of his favorite haunts was a place called Perfection Restaurant and the local KFC. I ran into him in the Kroger store one day and he told me, "You see that man following me? He's IRS. I've got so much money he's following me to make sure that nothing happens to me!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pool as Folklore

Here's a site worth noting: The Folklore of Pool & Billiards. An undergraduate student named "Wayne" (I wish he would have posted his contact info) has been working on a project for his University of Wyoming American Folklore course. As part of that project, Wayne has created the site and posted some of his work on it.

For his project, Wayne observes that:

the dynamic world of billiards is just a densely saturated ground for studying folklore, for numerous reasons. For one, the pool ritual just easily meets all the main criteria necessary in order for it to be considered as folklore. In other words, pool is communal, creative, and relatively subversive (also, it is often deviant and non-institutional in origin). What is more, these universal folkloric characteristics (that one must find to study a folkloric material) are so vividly obvious in pool that they are just very easy to withdraw from this lore.

I see no mention of Hustlers, Beats and Others on the site, which also might be useful. Another good source is Charles Lemert, author of Muhammad Ali, Trickster in the Cultural of Irony. I interviewed Lemert for The Hustler and the Champ, and his observations about pool (and Minnesota Fats particularly) definitely would be relevant to Wayne's research project.