Historical Item re Leesburg; sent along by Bob Weber.

‘Game of the Century’ was popular in early Leesburg

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The eighth panel of the Leesburg Bicentennial Mural includes people playing shuffleboard.

We don’t need to shuffle off to Buffalo as we move to another scene in the eighth and final panel in Leesburg’s Bicentennial Mural. Roughly in the middle of the panel’s bottom we find a gentleman pushing “biscuits,” another name for the discs, using a tang, or stick. 

Shuffleboard was always in the early plans for Venetian Gardens, which called for construction of a stadium, shuffleboard, tennis and roque courts, a wading pool and two pump houses.

In case you aren’t familiar, roque is an American variant of croquet played on a hard, smooth surface, according to Wikipedia. It was popular in the first quarter of the 20th century and billed the “Game of the Century” by its devotees.

It was also an Olympic sport in the 1904 Summer Games, replacing croquet from the previous games.

It’s played on a hard sand or clay 30-by-60-foot court bordered by a boundary wall, a curb bevelled at the ends to form an octagon. Players use the wall to bank balls in the manner of billiard players using the cushions of a billiard table.

Enough about roque, back to shuffleboard.

The shuffleboard courts were built and used extensively but later were moved north of Dixie Avenue off Second Street because they kept sinking in muck.

The facility is home of the Leesburg Shuffleboard Club Inc., which filed as a Domestic Non Profit Corporation in the State of Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1985. The season runs from October until March.

Interestly, the late Ivan E. Beyers, Sr., who originally conceived of the idea of a mural, served for eight years as program chairman of the Community, Tourist and Shuffleboard Club, regular user of the Community Building that he helped get in operation.

Although Beyers did not live to see the mural become a reality, his widow, Mrs. Pauline Beyers Hungerford, became Chairman of the Leesburg Community Mural Committee. She worked tirelessly with her committee to promote funds for the project and see her husband’s dream completed.

Shuffleboard was originally called shoveboard, and then shovelboard, according to the Shuffleboard Federation website. The Shuffleboard Federation was incorporated in 1987. The company manufactures and distributes an extensive, growing line of world class shuffleboard tables, accessory products and promotional materials.

Shuffleboard appears to have originated in England as early as 1532. In its earliest form the game took place by shoving coins across a polished tabletop. It was a pastime for royalty but became so popular that people stopped going to work, resulting in the game being banned.

Shuffleboard came to the United States around the time of the Civil War and was very popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The great hotels in Atlantic City and first-class hotels in the East had five or six tables right through the 1920s.

Prohibition halted the game’s popularity as speakeasies didn’t want games of skill.

Historically, the ancient shovelboard appears to have diverged into modern shuffleboard and table shuffleboard.

Today, it is popular on cruise ships and in retirement homes because of its low physical fitness requirements. The deck game is often associated with the elderly, though its miniaturized tabletop version is increasingly popular in bars and pubs among younger generations.

A National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame was established in the United States in 1995. Its purpose was to recognize excellence among participants in shuffleboard.

Venetian Gardens wasn’t the only early site of shuffleboards. The Daily Commercial reported on Sept. 23, 1938 that two shuffleboard courts, in addition to badminton and horseshoe facilities, would be built through the generosity of the Florida Telephone company in Leesburg, the forerunner of CenturyLink.

Rick Reed is a columnist who lives in Mount Dora.  Article sent along by Bob Weber with thanks!!   Stan McCormack  2014 11 14 20:30

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2 Responses to Historical Item re Leesburg; sent along by Bob Weber.

  1. kenonip@aol.com says:

    3 WEEKS AGO TIME MAGAZINE HAD AN ADD WITH A LARGE PICTURE OF PEOPLE PLAYING SHUFFLEBOARD

    kenonip@aol.com

    Like

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