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Juvenile Pool Sharks

Some things never change, regardless of advances in technology. Boys will be boys and they love to spend their time gaming. In the spring of 1913, the game was different but the time and money wasted on it was the same as it is today.

Fairbanks Daily Times Editorial – May 4, 1913

Frequently during the past winter it has come to the notice of the Times that many of the younger boys of this city spend too much of their time over the pool tables of downtown amusement places. The times has no objection to offer to the game of pool as a pastime-on the contrary, we regard it as one of the best amusements imaginable for men of mature years and older boys who can afford the luxury. And even in the case of the younger boys, there is no great harm in the game if indulged in moderately. But when boys of school age spend the greater part of their afternoons and evenings, day after day, in pool rooms, when they can afford neither the time nor the money thus squandered, it is time for someone to enter a protest against the pernicious practice, which is harmful both to morals and to health.

It is not altogether the fault of parents that such a condition of affairs exists, although it is a matter of common knowledge that the rising generation in Alaska is given altogether too much latitude. The “kids” of the North have liberties undreamed of by the children in the more settled Outside communities, and the opportunities which are open to boys in this country- and especially in the Interior- for earning spending money make it easy for them to indulge themselves in habits which do not make for better manhood.

There may be no way in which to prevent boys from playing pool, but it certainly is within the province of the city council to keep the young people off the streets after a reasonable hour, and we believe the councilmen also can stop the gambling for “bingles” which, we are told, is a common practice among some of the younger boys, whose backs as well as their morals are being crooked by the pool habit.

Note: The word “bingles” is an old slang term for money. Many of the boys from that era went on to become members of the Fairbanks Men’s Igloo. It is also very likely that the great- and second great-grandsons of these pioneer gamers are still gaming today! This history nugget was brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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