Saturday, December 07, 2019 06:42am
North Adams, MA now: 19 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Printer Friendly Version
   Recommend this story to a friend

iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Rack ‘Em

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, November 17, 2005

Family Billiards owner Bill Littlefield
North Adams – Bill Littlefield knows a thing or two about pool.

For instance, the “felt” that covers most pool tables isn’t made of felt at all, but is simply a cloth material that can vary in quality.

“The common term is ‘felt,’ but there is no ‘felt,’” Littlefield said during a Nov. 16 interview at his State Road Family Billiards business. “It’s cloth. Simonis is the best you can buy, they’ve been in business since 1680.”

“Pool” is a “made-up word,” Littlefield said, and explained that the proper term is “billiards.” Popular games such as “eight ball” are known as “pocket billiards” and are played on tables made with “pockets” that catch billiard balls; “billiards” is played on tables made without pockets. “Three-cushion billiards” is an example of a game that is played on a pocket-free table, Littlefield said.

Littlefield described himself as an amateur player whose abilities led him to professional/amateur competitions, known as “pro-am tournaments,” and a memorable win.

The Thrill of Victory...

“Johnny Archer was nominated as a player of the decade in the 1990s,” Littlefield said. “I played him at a pro-am in Reno [Nevada] and I smoked his [hind end]. He was a gentleman about it.”

Pro-am tournaments are “handicapped,” meaning that the amateur player is “spotted” a specific number of wins before competition begins. For Littlefield’s match with Archer, he was provided a five-win handicap. The competition involved a nine-ball game known as “Race to Eight,” and while the official score was 8-1 in Littlefield’s favor, Littlefield claimed three actual game victories to Archer’s lone win.

But history did not repeat during a subsequent tournament.

...Was Short-Lived

“The next year, I played him again and it was 8 to 5, all Archer,” Littlefield said with a smile, and noted that since the handicap was the same as the previous year, Archer bested Littlefield with eight consecutive wins.

“Archer has the record; he ‘ran’ 13 racks in a competition,” Littlefield said, and explained that “running the rack” means the player never missed a shot throughout the game.

Not Just a Player

His skills aren’t limited to playing the game; Littlefield assembles and dismantles billiard tables, and also installs billiard table “felt” playing surfaces. He recently installed a new cloth cover on a billiard table owned by famed television producer Norman Lear, who owns a home in Shaftsbury, Vt..

Assembling a dismantled antique 10-foot Brunswick-manufactured billiard table that Littlefield owns may be his next big project, he said. The table weighs over 3,000 pounds and has a slate with a 1 ½-inch thickness, Littlefield said. The slate thickness indicates that the slate was a special order, he noted.

“If this table was professionally restored, once assembled, it would be worth about $15,000,” he said. “I may assemble it and put it in the pool room as a showcase table.”

Families Welcome

The Family Billiards venue is nothing like the pool halls depicted in movies or on television programs, said Littlefield.


Kevin Kemp lines up a pool shot at Family Billiards.
The site hosts 11 regulation-sized 9-foot tables and one 8-foot table. Snacks and soft drinks are available for purchase and the room is equipped with a jukebox. Overhead lighting illuminates each table.

The rates are $5 per hour for a lone player and $4 per person per hour for two or more individuals. The business offers a special on a daily basis; for a $6 per person fee, individuals may play from noon to 6 p.m., and an $8 per person fee allows play from 6 p.m. to midnight, Littlefield said.

The game is a very good family activity because nearly anyone can learn to play, he said.

“Pool is experiencing an explosion in growth world-wide in industrialized countries, including here,” Littlefield said. “It’s something that anyone can be good at. I have college professors, lawyers, retired businessmen that come in here.”

There are some challenges associated with overcoming a public perception of pool rooms, Littlefield said.

“Americans have this ‘Hollywood image’ of pool as involving dark, dingy, rooms with drugs and these tough-guy characters hanging around,” he said. “And in the past, pool rooms were also a last bastion for single men; they could spit, and swear and smoke, and it didn’t insult women and children because there were no women and children in there to insult. Those days are long gone and most places are true ‘family billiards.’ Women and children come in and play and there is a family-oriented atmosphere.”

Littlefield began playing in Chicago, Ill., where he lived with his family. In Illinois, state law required that those entering a pool room be at least 18 years old, Littlefield said.

A Father's Investment

He remembered being 18 years old and coaxing extra funds from his father so that he could play pool. His father would usually agree to give Littlefield $5, but that changed after a conversation between his father and a friend, Littlefield said.

“My father suddenly started giving me $20 and I couldn’t figure out why,” Littlefield said. “I found out years later that, after the first time he gave me $20, he said to his friend ‘I think my kid is going nuts, he’s all the time at the pool hall.’ You have to remember that this was Chicago, and my dad’s friend said ‘Harold, you’re lucky.’ My dad said ‘Why am I lucky for that?’ and his buddy said ‘do you know where your kid is? He could be out running with the gangs or getting into other stuff.’ And my dad said ‘I never thought about it like that,’ and I got $20 every time after that. I do think that playing pool kept me out of trouble.”

The business has been at its current site for about six years. Littlefield operated for many years at a Curran Highway site now owned by the Sterwood-Ceruzzi corporation of Conn..

Frank Kut examines his options during a pool game at Family Billiards.


He is interested in launching pool leagues for pre-teen and teen-aged youth as well as women’s and men’s leagues. Mixed leagues, meaning men and women, could also be started, he said. Littlefield is available to teach pool and offers group and individual lessons, he said.

Littlefield sells pool tables and pool supplies at the business.

Family Billiards is open 365 days a year. Hours are Mon. noon to midnight, Tues.-Wed. 5 p.m. to midnight, Thurs-Sat., noon to midnight, Sun. noon to 10 p.m..

Additional information about billiards is available at a www.bca-pool.com Billiards Congress of America web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
Post Comment
No Comments

 
View All
Pittsfield Tree Lighting 2019
The City of Pittsfield officially kicked off the holiday...
North Adams Tree Lighting...
North Adams kicked off the holiday season with the slightly...
Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest
Gabriel Abbott Schools annual Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest...
McCann LPN Graduation 2019
McCann Technical School held its pinning ceremony for 20...
Williamstown Veterans Day...
Williamstown's American Legion Post 152 holds Veterans Day...
Pittsfield Veterans Day 2019
The Pittsfield Veterans Day Parade stepped off at 10 a.m....
North Adams Veterans Day 2019
North Adams held its Veterans Day observes Monday morning...
Cross Country: Multiple teams...
Ted Yee finished second overall, and Colin Young placed...
Ephs Defeat Amherst, 31-9
Senior safety Ben Anthony's interception return for a...
G Soccer: Smith Academy vs...
Lenox girls soccer team won over Smith Academy 2-0 in the...
Football: Lee vs Hoosac...
Lee High football team wins over Hoosac Valley 12-7 on...
G Soccer: Frontier vs Mount...
McWeeny's successful PK clinched a 4-1 shootout win for the...
G Soccer: Palmer vs Hoosac...
Sydni Jamross scored late in the first overtime Tuesday to...
G Soccer: Pathfinder vs...
McCann Tech girls soccer team win 4-1 over Pathfinder in...
B Soccer: Mohawk vs McCann...
McCann Tech boys soccer team lost to Mohawk in Penalty...
Football: Pittsfield vs...
The Taconic football team enjoyed contributions from all...
Pittsfield Tree Lighting 2019
The City of Pittsfield officially kicked off the holiday...
North Adams Tree Lighting...
North Adams kicked off the holiday season with the slightly...
Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest
Gabriel Abbott Schools annual Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest...
McCann LPN Graduation 2019
McCann Technical School held its pinning ceremony for 20...
Williamstown Veterans Day...
Williamstown's American Legion Post 152 holds Veterans Day...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved