St. Elmo's Pool Hall off Granby Street

Harry C. Man (1866–1926) St. Elmo Billiards, 113 E. City Hall Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia, ca. 1914

Michael Newell <> wrote:

It's great to read about "Superior Billiards" and Willie Mosconi on the Herm Website. I love stories about the old days and the older, well kept places. I dig older architecture that reflects our past styles and history. Old hotels, bars and pool halls are really nice.

That certainly was the case with St. Elmo's Billiards in downtown Norfolk. I love the smell of cigars, beer and $.25 hot dogs. The clicking of pool balls added to the magic. St. Elmo's was so Southern. It was located just off Grandby St. near the YMCA. My good pal Georgie Colondres and I used to ride the bus downtown and play pool there. George was a real good stick and I was OK. Luther "Wimpy" Lassiter used to come in and practice and play for money. Luther was a World Champion straight pool player and he called Norfolk the "gamblingest place " he'd ever been. We'd watch him shoot for hours. It was poetry in motion. Talk about smooth. He was from Elizabeth City North Carolina and he was the most southern person I'd ever been around. George got his autograph once and he treasured it. We'd grab a hot dog and a  3.2% beer for $.60 and dine out. Talk about cheap entertainment. Wow!

Legend has it some guys won a bunch of money on the ponies in Baltimore and he stopped at St. Elmo's. I guess the money was burning a hole in his pocket so he and Wimpy set up a game of straights to 100 balls. Luther spotted him 99 balls and
he had to break. Wimpy played a safe and the racked balls looked like they hadn't been touched except the Q Ball was against the far rail. All the guy had to do was make 1 ball and he wins, but he has no shot. He also played a safe and made a good shot but Luther saw a break shot. Wimpy made the break shot and ran 99 more balls off. Game over! He calmly reaches up and pockets the money that was sitting on top of the light over the table.

I never heard how much they played for but it was a lot. Great stuff. That's what champions do.

Mike "Beatle" Newell BT3/c
USS Hermitage 64-66

Wimpy Lassiter

Links for St. Elmo's Pool Hall

Shooting out the lights with Wimpy (Sports Illustrated)
When Norfolk was the center of the billiards world (Virginian-Pilot)
Untold Stories: Wimpy Lassiter (R.A. Dyer)

Dutch Silver shoots two hand at Superior Billiards ("Mosconi's"), Philadelphia, mid-1960's.
For colorful view of Superior Billiards in Philadelphia, click to

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