We Tell You Just A Little About Harriet Smith


     BETMAR, FL 2006 03 18.

I’m Earl Ball and it’s a great honor to be able to induct Harriet Smith into the Central District “Hall of Fame”, Special Awards Category.  We lost Harriet two summers ago, just before we were planning to nominate her for this award. She was so big a part of shuffleboard and the success of the Central District that we decided to go ahead and induct her posthumously and further, to wait until we could do it here, at her home in Betmar.    

Harriet was a part of shuffleboard for 40 years, an outstanding player who accumulated over 500 points, a “Masters” Champion inducted into both the Florida Shuffleboard Association and National “Halls of Fame” in 1978.  She was still an outstanding player in her later years as attested to by the fact she made the Central District “Masters” as late as 2003.  But Harriet was one of those rare people who did more.  She traveled the world promoting the sport; even bought the equipment to get the shuffleboard club started in Ireland; and sponsored tournaments at the State and District level.  When we lost our Central District “Masters” sponsor, she stepped forward and took over sponsorship.  She accepted the National representative’s job for the Central District when we needed someone who could attend the National meetings in Ohio because as she would say “her motor home would go anywhere”.  She held office in the Central District on numerous occasions, sometimes more than one position at a time.  She gave of her experience to all of us trying to make a difference in the great game of shuffleboard and we’ll all miss her.

It is with true pleasure, and great honor, that I present Harriet Smith for induction into the Central District “Hall of Fame”.  Dick Kucia, President of the Betmar Club, will accept the nomination of Harriet.  

Earl Ball, 2006 03 18. 

            Of Special Interest >> see the 2 paras in Italics below re Harriet: Way Down.

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH!! by Dorothy Spillman–Wagasky.

Did you ever wonder how shuffling came to be in Ireland?? Here is the interesting and true story as told by one of those responsible ~~ Dorothy Spillman Wagasky!!  I know that you will enjoy. We have employed “green ink” in displaying this story ~~ green ink because we are approaching St. Pattie’s Day and wanted you to begin to think about Things Irish!!!  Stan of THE SHUFFLER. 2007 02 23. AS BEST I CAN TELL, YEAR WAS 2000. (added that on 2017 01 06)  

Article which follows is by Dorothy-Spillman Wagasky     

We well know the phrase “The Luck of the Irish”. However; the day that Shuffleboard arrived on the scene, we will say “Lucky Irish”.

This sport was almost totally unknown to the Irish unless one had sailed the seas and saw the sport on ship. We have been told that is just what an English gentleman named Paul Byrne had done in his life.  After this experience he learned of the Allen Shuffleboard Co. in America and proceeded to purchase a poly court and equipment from Sam Allen in the early 1990’s.

It was his intention to promote the game in Ireland among the hotels and tourist cottages with the poly court.

The information of a shuffleboard court in Ireland was passed from Sam Allen to Bob and Dorothy Spillman who had been traveling each summer in Ireland enjoying the people, places and “pitch and putt” golf. The Spillmans were also told about Ireland from past president of the International Shuffleboard Association, Don Kleckner.  Don had expressed a desire to see the Irish people become part of the circuit of International play. 

Now the seed is out of the packet and soon to be planted.  After several communications across the sea, an invitation was extended by Paul and Mel Byrnes for Bob and Dorothy Spillman to be their house guests at Tullagherion in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow in Ireland ~~ with the stipulation that these two “Professional Shufflers” would give lessons to Paul and several of his friends. Of course the Americans were most pleased to accept and soon learned of several “pitch and putt” golf courses in County Carlow that had not been visited by them in their travels!!!

In the year to follow Paul’s health had declined, and wife Mel had taken on a business of her own with ladies apparel.  She was not inclined to add more to her agenda at this time. Shuffleboard on the poly courts was coming to a stand still, however; those little seeds were in that lovely Irish soil trying to sprout with shuffleboard, and upon the Spillman visit in 1998 it began to happen!!!  

During the Spillman’s travels to the many Pitch and Putts of the country, they kept returning to the County Galway area in the West ~~ drawn to the home of Michael and Agnes Walsh and their lovely family of four daughters and two sons.  Their son Michael was fourteen at the first visit and extended such Irish charm, the pair could not but feel at home.

At the time of the Spillman visit of September 1998, their hosts Michael and Agnes had developed a lovely Bed and Breakfast along with the golf course.  Michael had shared with Bob his desire to place outdoor carpet in a large concrete cattle barn for the golfers to practise putting during the winter season and when it rained.  (A rare occasion to which anyone who has been there will attest!!:)J)

Suddenly those seeds popped around Bob’s (Spillman) feet and he said:  “Michael; not a putting green; Shuffleboard is what we need!! This is your opportunity to fulfill the ambition that Paul Byrne felt for the Irish; you will have the facility here for the young and the old, the travelers, and the locals ~~ to participate in a new activity for Ireland.  We will come early in the summer of 1999 and in the mean time you get the barn ready.” That was Bob’s dream, and also his last trip to Ireland, he left us the next month, October 11, 1998.

The seeds were dormant, but not gone.  When Dorothy was closing the estate in 1999 she saw the Mazda Truck as several shuffleboard courts, and with that sale, (of the truck,) the courts began in Portumna County Galway Ireland.  Those seeds just sprouted and were on their way when Michael Walsh took on a complete new activity for himself and his country.

The five courts were built indoors and ready for the inaugural visit of some fifty American and Canadian shufflers and friends during the summer of 2000.

The flowers were blooming and the courts were in action.

The sport is now enjoyed by many tourists and guests from around the world.  Since Bob was German/Swiss, the name Spielman was given to the Centre as it means “Play Man” in German, and we do play there, and Bob would cherish the thought of his legacy to Ireland.

Dorothy (Spillman) was accompanied by Harriet Smith, a well respected and well known Hall of Fame Shuffler from Central Florida, on a trip to Ireland in 1999.  After visiting the Portumna area, Harriet expressed a desire to become a part of the plans for the Spielman Shuffleboard Center.  Together, Dorothy and Harriet shared in donating the equipment in memory of their husbands ~~ Bill Smith and Bob Spillman, both having died in 1998. 

Following Harriet’s visit in 2000, she sent funds to help Michael improve the alleys between the courts as they were a little rough on the discs. Harriet passed away in the summer of 2003.  Harriet and Bob left their legacy to Ireland.  Their kindness and generosity will be remembered by all Florida Shufflers and of course by those who use the Center. 

But the winds of Ireland have blown some seeds to the north and now in County Monaghan near Carrickakelly Inniskeen are four courts blooming in huts that were once growing mushrooms, James of Irish Country Quads.

Given a few more years, perhaps not in our time, shuffleboard will have seeds growing in every County and village ~~ but not quite like Pitch and Putt.

So when traveling in Ireland, be sure to stop and smell the flowers around the Green Acres Golf and Shuffleboard.   Don’t miss the Spielman Sport Centre Portumna Co. Galway on the north tip of Lake Derg or the James of Irish Country Quads in Co. Monaghan.

So now we know the rest of the story. 

Dorothy Spillman Wagasky.  2007 02 23.  

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3 Responses to We Tell You Just A Little About Harriet Smith

  1. Glen Peltier says:

    Harriet Smith was Harriet Dunaway during her early years and later married our State tournament director Bill Smith. She had traveled the circuit in a motor home and her and Bill bought a large motor home to get them to the tournaments. She was a great player, a wonderful lady and also a big promoter of shuffleboard. She sponsored the masters back in the day when it cost $2500.00 to do so.


  2. seliseq1 says:

    Lovely Lady! A wonderful shuffler & I admired her so for traveling to Hendersonville in her little motor home alone! She was always smiling & laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

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