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Titanic_Thomas
03-05-2005, 09:43 PM
I got my copy of billiard digest today and on page 45 in left corner behind effren is me.
I will autograph for a small fee. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

PQQLK9
03-06-2005, 07:53 AM
Thats not you.

MrLucky
03-06-2005, 08:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote PQQLK9:</font><hr> Thats not you. <hr /></blockquote>

<font color="red"> LOL! sounds like he is either hallucinating or has a distorted sense of fame! </font color> /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif

Titanic_Thomas
03-06-2005, 11:44 AM
I am talking about the fat guy in the left corner behinf reyes.
I will also include a certificate of authenticity for a slightly larger fee with each purchase.
picture (http://www.2-82.com)

wolfdancer
03-06-2005, 11:56 AM
You may not be famous....but you have a famous name......
"Titanic Thompson"..was in fact Alvin (Titanic) Thomas......

FastJoey
03-06-2005, 11:58 AM
ups just brought the pic.i ordered from you ..how come you didn't send me a certificate of authenticity?????? /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

FastJoey
03-06-2005, 12:03 PM
that fat guy in the left corner behind Reyes is Minnesota Fats !!!!!!!!! yes folks he is alive and well..Fats and Elvis were spotted down in Nashville the other day !!!!!!!!!!!!!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Titanic_Thomas
03-06-2005, 12:37 PM
When Titanic Thompson came to Evansville -

by J. Jeff Hays

To most observers, Evansville has always been a sleepy, southern river town with a lunch bucket labor force that works hard for its money. Conventional wisdom would say that high rollers, looking for easy pickings, would not find this conservative, tight fisted, church going community to their liking.

But long before super con man Walter Dillbeck of Fort Branch roared through here a couple of decades ago fleecing many a lamb with his wild schemes, Evansville, strange as it may seem, had once before attracted arguably the most famous gambler and con man of the 20th century, "Titanic Thompson." By the time Ti set up shop in Evansville in the late 30ís, he had already made a national reputation and was the model for Damon Runyunís fictional character, Sky Masterson, described this way by Runyun:

"Of all the high players this country has ever seen, there is no doubt that the guy they called The Sky (Masterson) is the highest. He will bet all he has, and nobody can bet more than this."

Titanic Thompson burst on the national scene when he was a key witness in the Arnold Rothstein murder trial in New York in 1929. Rothstein was a millionaire gambler and restaurateur who was linked to the Chicago "Black Sox" world series scandal a decade before. Ti and a group of high rollers had set up Rothstein in a gambling caper and fleeced him out of nearly a half million dollars. The scam got out of hand and one of the gamblers accidentally shot and killed the wary Rothstein.

The trial was a sensation with the colorful testimony of Thompson and the other gamblers but in the end all were acquitted when the testimony, though dramatic and often entertaining, failed to be conclusive. An Arkansas native

Titanic Thompson was born Alvin Clarence Thomas to poor farmers in Arkansas in 1892. His father deserted his family for the poker tables when Alvin was only a few months old. He grew up in the piney woods of Arkansas and as soon as he could he also left for more glittering surroundings.

For the next thirty years before coming to Evansville, Alvin, now called "Titanic", practiced and then mastered his skills as golfer, gambler, hustler and con man. One of his victims named him "Titanic" because he was sure such an amazing person must have gotten off that ill fated boat alive. For years a story circulated that Thompson had escaped the sinking ship dressed as a woman. That story can not be verified. He changed his name from Thomas to Thompson when a misguided hotel clerk recorded it wrong. Ti liked the sound of "Titanic Thompson," so that was what it was to be.

He made most of his money on the golf courses and at poker tables around the country, but he became famous for the outrageous propositions he offered. One of the most notorious was on a chilly day in Chicago when he kept bragging to his fellow golfers that if he was forced to he could drive a golf ball 500 yards. After listening to this outlandish boast all afternoon, one of the golfers said, "Consider yourself forced." Ti bet each of them $500 on the condition that he could choose the golf course and that they wouldnít quibble over whether the ball stayed in the fairway. They all agreed to the terms and put them in writing. Then they drove with Ti to a course on the outskirts of the city. The unsuspecting golfers were already counting their money when Ti got out of the car, stepped up to the first tee and teed up his ball. Then, without hesitation, he made a right turn and smacked the ball toward a frozen lake alongside the first hole. As the ball bounced once or twice it quickly skidded out of sight. Ti turned to his cohorts and said, "Gee, that ball is still going. Iíll bet it goes at least a mile." The golfers grudgingly paid him off because he did live up to the terms of the bet which was in writing.

A master of propositions

Another time when he was leaving Joplin, Missouri, Ti noticed a road crew erecting a sign that read "Joplin 20 miles." Seeing an opportunity, Ti went back that night with a pick and shovel and moved the sign five miles closer.

The next day he told his golfing buddies when they were driving past the sign that he thought the sign was wrong. "I just donít believe its 20 miles to the city limits, " he claimed." Iíll bet anyone $100 that it is at least five miles off." They took the bet and drove back and measured it off with the odometer. Sure enough, Ti had won again.

Ti was about six feet tall, slim with combed back dark hair. He was also very agile and an accomplished athlete. He didnít always have to stack the odds in his favor to win. He would practice other feats constantly that also won him a wad of money. He would bet anyone that he could chip a golf ball into a glass of water from 15 feet. He could do it.

While lounging around a hotel lobby, Ti often won money from anyone who would bet he couldnít kick a house shoe 20 feet in the air and have it land right back on his foot. He always did it when they put the money up. At other times he would sit around a hotel lobby pitching playing cards into a hat. People would watch him hit some and miss many. When he drew a crowd, he offered to bet anyone $100 that he could pitch all 52 cards into the hat from 20 feet. He got lots of takers and then proceeded to do it, taking in several hundred dollars.

Ti comes to Evansville

Just before World War II, oil started gushing from the ground across the Wabash River in Illinois making many instant millionaires. It was not long before the gamblers started coming. Ti, with his third wife, Joanne, booked rooms in the Vendome Hotel and looked around for some new action. Evansville was just what he was looking for. High stakes poker games at the Vendome and McCurdy Hotels, golf games for the asking at Helfrich Hills Golf Course and gambling almost non-stop at Jensenís Bowling Alley and Pool Hall.

Ti knew many of the gamblers from other times. One he knew very well, a high stakes gambler named Hubert Cokes, a legendary pool player. Cokes briefed Ti on what was happening in Evansville. "Most of these guys wonít play you straight up. What you have to do is win from the other gamblers and with that money buy up as many oil leases with mineral rights you can get hold of." It wasnít long until Ti had built up a nest egg of oil leases that produced an income of some $200 a day. In Evansville, he spent most of his time golfing at Helfrich Hills and in the big poker games. This gave him much more excitement than the oil business.

Caddies of that time tell me that Titanic was a good tipper. The going rate for caddying 18 holes was 75 cents but Ti was always good for two bucks. He was a regular at Helfrich playing mostly with Bob Hamilton and Hubert Cokes. His golfing feats were legendary not only in Evansville but nationwide. Bob Hamilton gained national recognition after winning the 1944 PGA championship by beating Byron Nelson in head to head match play.

Undoubtedly Titanic Thompson was a great golfer too. He played with and often beat some of the worldís best but he never played in any tournaments. This prompted several people to ask just how good was he. Titanic was a gambler first and foremost. One of his victims observed, "I donít know how good he can shoot but believe me he is one stroke better than anyone he has ever played."

The watermelon caper

A typical Titanic exploit occurred when Thompson was driving back from White County in Illinois. As he approached Wadesville, he passed a watermelon truck. His mind started clicking and on the other side of town he stopped and waited for the truck. When it came, Ti flagged it down.

"How much do you want for those watermelons?" Ti asked. "Twenty cents," the man answered.

"No, I mean for all of them." Ti countered.

"Well, I donít know, maybe $75," the farmer replied, ready to negotiate a lower price if that startled this strange customer.

"Iíll give you $200 for the load, but thereís something you must do for me." Ti said.

"What is that?" answered the man thinking of his good fortune, wondering if this slick looking man was jesting with him.

"I want you to unload and count each one and then put them back on the truck and come by the McCurdy Hotel at four this afternoon. You look like an honest man so Iíll give you the $200 right now." explained Ti, also giving the man a card with his phone number. "Call me at this number this afternoon with the total. If you do this you can keep the $200 and the watermelons too." Old timers will recall that in the war years, the lobby and the front porch of the McCurdy Hotel was the social center of Evansville. It was said that more oil wells were drilled there, more deals were made and more gossip swapped than anywhere in town.

It was also the watering hole for all the gamblers who ate in the Java Shop and then killed time in the lobby talking, waiting for the night when the poker games would begin. About three oíclock Ti arrived reporting on his leases in Illinois and inquiring about whether the nightís action would be cards or pool.

The stage is set

Shortly before four oíclock Ti got up, stretched and walked out on the porch. "Boys, come look at this," he yelled. "I havenít seen a load of fresh watermelons since I left Texas. Iíd better hail that fellow down and buy me one."

Some of the others agreed that a fresh watermelon would be a tasty treat. They all gathered around the truck. One asked, "How much you want?

"Quarter apiece," the still befuddled driver answered.

" Sounds like a fair price to me," Ti said. "Does a fellow get his pick?"

The farmer nodded his head in agreement. Thompson stepped forward and picked one up and then placed it back on the pile.

"Wait a minute," he said. "This reminds me of something I was pretty good at when I was a boy back in Arkansas. Folks used to say that I was just about the best at guessing the number of things in a bunch. I got a hundred dollars says I can come within five melons of the total on this truck."

"Ti, if your serious and want to throw a hundred dollars away," said one of the gamblers. "Iíll call that bet right now."

"Iíll take $100 of that too," said another.

"Hell," said yet another. "Iíll give you two-to-one odds and pay this fellow $10 to unload and count them out."

Ti feigned surprise. "Looks like I left my mouth open too long. I ainít done this in a long time but since I made the wager. I Ďspect Iím obligated to cover all the bets."

Missed by two

Tilting his hat back, Ti stepped out on Riverside Drive, walked around the truck, looked at it from all sides, scratching his head, figuring and frowning. After several minutes of this drama, he got back on the porch, looked at the truck some more and then moaned, "Oh, Hell, Iím gonna guess thereís four hundred thirteen melons there."

This drama had attracted a sizable crowd watching the driver unload his melons, counting as he went. When the last one was laid down, there were 415 melons counted.

"Well," grinned Ti, "missing by two ainít bad for being out of practice and all."

There was a stunned silence on the porch of the McCurdy. Those who had lost money betting on such a crazy proposition could not believe they had been drawn into such a wild scheme. Casual observers viewed Thompson as some kind of mystic with strange powers.

The truck driver began the chore of reloading the melons. He would have a sore back the next day but he would make a sizable profit on his improbable dayís work.

Ti collected almost $1,000 from his fellow gamblers then excused himself saying he wanted to take a little nap before the nightís action. "Wanna be ready tonight," he smiled. "Iím on a roll."

Titanicóunsinkable, unforgettable

Titanic lived on Stringtown Road while he was in Evansville. He and his wife had a baby, Tommy, in 1944 which prompted Walter Winchell in his newspaper column to observe that, "Ole Ti, likely as not, had a sizable wager on whether it was a boy or a girl. And, likely as not, Ole Ti had the odds down cold before his wife went to the hospital." Such is the reputation of legends.

Once when Titanic Thompson was offered a chance to invest in an inventorís dream of a new kind of light bulb he turned it down. This was not his kind of gamble. The inventor and his investors made millions on the inventionóthe fluorescent bulb. Years later, reflecting on this missed opportunity, Thompson indicated not the slightest regret. Being a millionaire was never his goal, he said. Living like one was.

It was in 1974 when a teenage caddy drove out to the back nine on a Dallas golf course and told a group of gamblers who were measuring their putts that he was just told to tell them that Titanic Thompson had a stroke and died.

For several seconds no one spoke. Finally someone asked when it happened.

"Last night I think, " the youngster said.

"You ever know Titanic Thompson? another asked.

"No sir, canít say that I did," he replied.

"But you say heís dead."

"Thatís what I was told."

"Well son, let me say this to you: I knew olí Ti for many years. Likely he is dead. But take my advice and donít bet any money on it."

LARRY_BOY
03-06-2005, 12:40 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote FastJoey:</font><hr> that fat guy in the left corner behind Reyes is Minnesota Fats !!!!!!!!! yes folks he is alive and well..Fats and Elvis were spotted down in Nashville the other day !!!!!!!!!!!!!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif <hr /></blockquote>

You must be mistaken about Elvis because he now lives in Kalmazoo Michigan. I should know as I grew up in Michigan.... /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

FastJoey
03-06-2005, 03:30 PM
that so called fat guy behind Reyes is actually a computer enhanced photo of a skinny guy..who i believe is Earl Strickland !!!!!

pooldude
03-06-2005, 04:57 PM
Nice, entertaining story.

Stretch
03-06-2005, 06:29 PM
Yes i liked it to! Thanks TT. St.

FastJoey
03-06-2005, 09:38 PM
u da man TT...........we all liked it and your new fame.......