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Billiard Shops of the Bowery and my Family History
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mediaseth
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Billiard Shops of the Bowery and my Family History - 06-18-2020, 11:07 AM

This is long, but my family history is tied to the billiard shops that were on the Bowery in NYC, so I'm providing what context I have below, so perhaps someone who knows the history there can put the pieces together I can not.

I should know a lot more than I do, but there was a divorce well before I was born. Now, I'm researching that branch of the family. They would go from working for various shops on the Bowery, to my grandfather taking one over in the 1950's, running it into the ground by 1959.

From what I can tell, the first Albaum (sometimes spelled Albom) in the business didn't work at a shop, but had a billiard hall near Macy's. One document had it located on W33rd (a block south). But, it never said the name of the place. It would have been closed around prohibition. By 1930, Louis Albom/Albaum had a bowling alley and was living in Seagate (Coney Island,) Brooklyn. Again, the census record didn't have the name of the place.

My great grandfather Isadore Albaum (never used Albom but had an alias, "Jim Burke"), was back in NYC by 1930 after 10+ years in Philly up to no good, and his place of employment that year was "Billiard Academy," along with his two sons, Sidney/Joe - my grandfather, and Nathan.

A cousin I reconnected with said he remembers during the depression they worked for shops that pulled tables out of fancy apartments and mansions and refurbed them, many going to bars and saloons.

By 1941-ish, WWII draft card stated my grandfather worked at 242 Bowery. I looked up the NYC tax photos, and it was Columbia Billiard Table, Co. I think they went out of business in the 50's and I'd love to know more about them. There was one table from the 20's or 30's going for $14,000 recently.

It was also the 1950's when my grandfather took over ownership of one of the shops he worked for, drank the profits in the Bowery Saloons and declared bankruptcy in 1959.

So, that's what I know. What I seek is an expert in billiard history, with knowledge of the NYC scene back then and the three manufacturers that were on the Bowery. I want to know if Columbia Billiard Co. is the shop he took over, given that they seemed to stop manufacturing tables around the time my grandfather owned such a business.

None of this history survived the divorce, which was not a pleasant one. My father and uncle were driven by a private detective from Brooklyn to Sammie's Follies on the Bowery in 1968 to serve their own father his divorce papers. The detective was working for my grandmother, and she never went into these bars.. as young as 5 years old, my father had to fetch his father out of bars. But, that has nothing to do with billiards...

I'd be interested in any accessories, signs, etc. from the Bowery billiard businesses, and after we move, maybe I'll have room for a table, too!

Thanks
  
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07-04-2020, 10:48 AM

Good luck. Sounds like you have a long way to go.
Any chance you could move to the bowery?
That seems the best way to investigate, in my opinion.
  
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07-04-2020, 05:20 PM

I think the place to start is with Blatt Billiards. They are likely to know the history of local manufacturers. As for some of the addresses, the public library might have telephone books from the time.

Good luck.


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07-08-2020, 05:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediaseth View Post
This is long, but my family history is tied to the billiard shops that were on the Bowery in NYC, so I'm providing what context I have below, so perhaps someone who knows the history there can put the pieces together I can not.

I should know a lot more than I do, but there was a divorce well before I was born. Now, I'm researching that branch of the family. They would go from working for various shops on the Bowery, to my grandfather taking one over in the 1950's, running it into the ground by 1959.

From what I can tell, the first Albaum (sometimes spelled Albom) in the business didn't work at a shop, but had a billiard hall near Macy's. One document had it located on W33rd (a block south). But, it never said the name of the place. It would have been closed around prohibition. By 1930, Louis Albom/Albaum had a bowling alley and was living in Seagate (Coney Island,) Brooklyn. Again, the census record didn't have the name of the place.

My great grandfather Isadore Albaum (never used Albom but had an alias, "Jim Burke"), was back in NYC by 1930 after 10+ years in Philly up to no good, and his place of employment that year was "Billiard Academy," along with his two sons, Sidney/Joe - my grandfather, and Nathan.

A cousin I reconnected with said he remembers during the depression they worked for shops that pulled tables out of fancy apartments and mansions and refurbed them, many going to bars and saloons.

By 1941-ish, WWII draft card stated my grandfather worked at 242 Bowery. I looked up the NYC tax photos, and it was Columbia Billiard Table, Co. I think they went out of business in the 50's and I'd love to know more about them. There was one table from the 20's or 30's going for $14,000 recently.

It was also the 1950's when my grandfather took over ownership of one of the shops he worked for, drank the profits in the Bowery Saloons and declared bankruptcy in 1959.

So, that's what I know. What I seek is an expert in billiard history, with knowledge of the NYC scene back then and the three manufacturers that were on the Bowery. I want to know if Columbia Billiard Co. is the shop he took over, given that they seemed to stop manufacturing tables around the time my grandfather owned such a business.

None of this history survived the divorce, which was not a pleasant one. My father and uncle were driven by a private detective from Brooklyn to Sammie's Follies on the Bowery in 1968 to serve their own father his divorce papers. The detective was working for my grandmother, and she never went into these bars.. as young as 5 years old, my father had to fetch his father out of bars. But, that has nothing to do with billiards...

I'd be interested in any accessories, signs, etc. from the Bowery billiard businesses, and after we move, maybe I'll have room for a table, too!

Thanks
The library of Congress has some information on old businesses and the public libraries used to have microfilm you could look at, of old newspaper articles, they were not catalogued except by date, so it was a monumental task. Nobody is still alive from back then that would remember, and second hand stories, are not worth much, from what I have gleaned over the years. {but better than nothing}I guess?
Good luck on your search, but I wouldn't get too hopeful.
  
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