West Virginia: “Take me home country roads.”
For some reason, that song always makes me feel nostalgic and think about my grandmother and her home in Kings Mountain, KY. She went on to the “Big Hillbilly” in the sky in her 108th year. She chewed at least one pack of Redman, everyday of her life. Rest easy Granny.
I played some poker in private games in Wheeling, West Virginia and Steubenville, Ohio mid to late 1960’s. I will leave Steubenville and it’s mostly houses of ill repute for a future post.
The games in Wheeling were good. Players were mostly the “Movers and Shakers” in the city and county. Games were mostly legit. I did spot shades in the game one night. I bellied up in the 4 seat at once! It can be a good night if you know what to look for.
The Pirate Café chip could be considered my first chip since I acquired it about 1962. I got it as a gift from a special friend in a bag of chips. The bag started my quest for chips and history. I choose not to call it my first chip and will make a post on what I consider my first chip that was in the bag at a later date.
The Pirate Cafe is a special request by Jim Linduff. Now get those Rigdon records!
Enough of that:
Pirate Cafe: Wheeling:
Sorry for the bad scan. It is one of 1st scans I ever did.
Pirate Café was located at 2253 Main Street in South Wheeling north-west corner of Main & 23rd. Structure which housed the address no longer exists.
Operated from 1940-1957 by Nick Miller (AKA Nick Vosvick) and the Lias brothers: John & "Big Bill." A restaurant and bar out front and gambling rooms in the back which were entered through electric buzzer doors (a game called barbout was apparently popular there).
In August 1957 Nick Miller told acquaintances that he was off on a two day vacation. He was actually paying a visit to some syndicate guys in New Kensington, PA (near Pittsburg). They strangled him to death, placed his body in the trunk of his new luxury convertible and drove it to a quiet neighborhood in Wilkinsburg, PA where his corpse was discovered several days later when the postal carrier noticed the car swarming with flies and giving off a foul odor.
(Geez, are we seeing a pattern here? Bodies in trunks of cars. Remember Dewey De'Angelo from the Biloxi, MS post? Actually murder is in entangled with many stories of the illegal operators. One of the worst stories of murder is a young girls death during the fight to control Beverly Hills in N KY. A story for another day.)
After his death the Pirate changed its name to Billy's and continued on business as usual (Billy's="Big Bill"). A lot of info out there on "Big Bill" Lias. Appears to have been a legendary figure in Wheeling.
Weriton (WV) Daily Times--23august1957:
Not only was "Big Bill" the big man in Wheeling, he was big period:
The photos below taken at Lias's Wheeling Downs;
Photos below are in a courthouse--I'm not positive, but I think the guy with Lias might be Nick Miller:
Lias and Miller leaving a courtroom:
1935-1942 chip deliveries
Three different addresses on the chip cards:
17 McFarland St. was the address of the club for the 1935-36 orders.
915 1/2 Quarrier was the address of the club for the 1940-42 orders.
1607 Quarrier was the residential address of Charles H. Smith during those years.
Smith was the manager/president of the Domino Club Inc.
The club was raided in November 1942 (the same year as the last chip order) and gambling equipment
was confiscated and used in the prosecution of the person arrested during the raid on the charge of
operating said equipment: Farris S. Tabet (1904-1955).
At the time, Tabet was the proprietor of a place called Monarch Billiards.
Charleston Daily Mail--3may1943
Charleston Daily Mail--4may1943:
Tabet got an early start; Charleston Daily Mail--15nov1920: