Living Links to Billiard History

Every so often we get the privilege of speaking with a family member
or ancestor of a billiard icon from the past, which is of course a great
way to share first-hand information that might have otherwise been
lost to the ravages of time. Below are a few great examples of the
historical family connections that we've been fortunate enough to
make over the years.  Do you have a living link in your family?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

A man named
Fred Haupt and his sons operated several billiard
table repair & resale shops in Chicago during the 1910s and 20s -
and their nameplates can still be found on antique tables to this day.

Fred's great-granddaughter Susan is happy to report that her son is a
wizard with a billiard cue and they are proud of their billiard heritage.
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Bill Collins is a great-grandson of Alfred Spink, a renowned Chicago
sports writer who regularly covered billiard news. Bill contacted us
because he is working hard to piece together his family's unique
legacy. See also the
Portrait Gallery
A friend of this museum, Skip Nemecek represents the fourth
generation of the Nemecek clan. (Tweeten Fibre Co.) They have been
in the billiard accessories business in Chicago for 100 years and
still produce one of the top selling chalks in the world.
See also the
Portrait Gallery
In Nashville, in the late 20's James Vester Sr. started with a small public billiard room in his
basement. (Until about 1938, see photo below.) And after a few years of managing the
Billiard Hall
, he took over as manager of the Melrose Billiard Lounge in Nashville.
( the building still exists as of 2011)

As manager he made a point of running a neat and clean establishment and held a daily series of
free lessons for lady players. He also held expo games and hosted many a pro player in his
humble establishment. But James himself wasn't a half bad shooter either. He was winning
city-wide titles (1940',47',48' ) and had developed a reputation as a serious contender.

By 1949 Vester had two national crowns under his belt and he even advanced to the World
Championship level two times, ( to be held at Navy Pier in Chicago) only to be eliminated in the
first round. (one time by Ponzi )  Nonetheless, James Vester Sr. did
earn the right to play against a
Dean's List of the best players that the world had ever seen - and we want to thank him for having
the brilliant foresight to keep good records of his accomplishments. A very special thank you to
James Vester Jr. for generously sharing his collection with us all.
Vester's First Billiard Room - Under His Home
Image from the book: East Nashville  E. Michael Fleenor 1998
Vester vs Hoppe at Fort Knox 1943
Vester vs Erwin Rudolph in Nashville 1946
Vester vs world champ Ruth McGinnis
Vester & Greenleaf
Left:  Melrose Lounge receives compliments...         Right: Vester practices for Nationals.
Portrait of James Vester Sr.
Vester and Lady Students (appeared in newspaper) December 1946
George Corsi is a great great grandson of the billiard champion George B. Sutton, who was a
household name in Chicago and abroad at the turn of the last century. Mr. Corsi was
handed-down many wonderful family treasures from the Suttons, including some unique playing
cues, photographs and other memorabilia from the 'golden age' of billiards in America. A very
special Thank You to Mr. Corsi and his family for sharing these wonderful pieces with us all.

Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. George Butler Sutton Family
Children: William (Bill), Harry, Arnold, Edna and Georgina
Below: George B. Sutton (and wife)
Circa 1899  George B. Sutton featured in the Weekly Carom - published by local billiard
champions Clarence Green and William Catton.
While climbing through her family tree, Nola Williams of Sacramento discovered that two of her
Great Great Uncles were billiard champions based out of San Francisco.
Charles and Benjamin
captured multiple Pacific Coast titles and operated their own billiard hall. Ben toured the
world with top players like Schafer and Hoppe and eventually appeared on the cover, and was
written about in
Billiards Magazine, March of 1919, shown below. (Also a SF directory ad circa 1884)
One of Herman Rambow's two grandsons, Albert Pranno, is happy to report that he still owns the
custom cue that his grandfather made for him so many years ago. A very special thank you to the
Pranno family for sharing some of their family treasures with us.

Below : A wonderful and rare photo of Herman Rambow with his daughter Loretta, her son Albert,
and his wife Mary Ann, on their wedding day in 1962.  Loretta was Herman's only child.

Below: Grandson Albert holding his prized cue, personalized with his name and initials.
Below: An example of some fancy script that Herman wrote for his grandson, and an Ivory pin
that he hand-carved for his daughter Loretta.