My Dad Played Pool With Wyatt Earp

This story appeared in our inbox from a gentleman named Allan Preston. Before Preston’s father passed away in 1983 (he had settled in Parker, AZ with his family in 1909 when he was 5 years old), he taped several of his dad’s stories about life in the Old West… in some cases, like the one below, Preston, the son, shares a memory involving himself and his father…. but as you’ll see, this story is more than just a son reliving a fond memory. Let’s just say a famous wild west lawman is involved.

—POOL SHARK—

My father, Alfred Preston, was raised in turn-of-the-century Parker, Arizona. He had many different jobs when he was young to help support the family.

I was aware of his early life when Arizona had just attained Statehood. I also was aware that the type of jobs he could have gotten as a youth would have been rather limited. For example, he worked at Beaver Motors in Parker for a time.

One job he had would come back and haunt me almost sixty years later.

As a young person in the seventies, I knew, for a fact, that anything could be accomplished by devoting my youthful enthusiasm to any task! I had just survived two combat tours in Vietnam, and returned without a scratch! I had married my sweetheart, and gotten an excellent job with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Oftentimes, after working all day at the District’ maintenance facility in La Verne, California, my wife, Sandy, and I would go bowling at the nearby Garey Bowling Lanes. It was great fun, and good exercise for a newly-married, young couple.

Inside the facility was an area set aside to play pool. Oftentimes, I would spend hours playing the game with Sandy, some old friends or even strangers. Before long, I really thought I was ‘hot stuff’ and couldn’t be beaten!

One evening, while visiting my parents, I casually happened to mentioned to my father how ‘good’ my playing had become. I felt, with all modesty, that no could beat me since becoming so ‘hot!’

My Father responded in his normally casual manner: “Think you are that good?”

Shocked, I responded that no one had beat me so far! “Do you want to play me?”, he asked. Dumb-founded, I replied, “Name the time!”.

What had really taken me by surprise was the fact my mother and father rarely went at night, especially for entertainment and not for dinner. I should have known something was ‘up’, but I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker!

The following Friday, the entire family traveled to the Garey Bowling Alley and had dinner. Afterwards, we adjourned to the pool tables and I stood in front of my favorite one. Stupid me, I asked if he knew how to ‘table’ the balls. In short order, he ‘racked’ the balls and took his first shot. The racked balls exploded and went in every direction!

At that point, I realized that my ego had overloaded my ability. He ‘ran’ he table in nothing flat and asked if I wanted to play another game, since he was just getting warmed up. Other patrons were beginning to crowd around, and see the ‘old guy’ play some ‘real’ pool!

Sensing I was really disheartened, my father took me aside and explained that for several years in his youth, he had worked at the pool hall in Parker. Aside from cleaning up, he also played for the house and took home part of his winnings!

He said: “Don’t feel bad, I oftentimes beat Wyatt Earp, when he came to town for supplies, and stopped to get a beer and play pool!”

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