A blast from Perry’s recreational past was heard this week with the opening of the Billiard Room at 1220 Willis Ave. The two-table pool hall occupies suite 13 in the Professional Arcade building, just a step down the hall from the barber and beauty shops.
The Billiard Room is hosted by Doug Royer of Perry. A 1976 graduate of Perry High School, Royer said in his youth saw the last fading gleams of Perry’s pool-hall traditions at Farnham Billiards at 1104 Willis Ave. and Hylbak Billiard Parlor at 1018 Railroad St.
In 1955 Harold Farnham bought out Cornelius Billiards, which opened in 1922. Farnham offered billiards, eight ball and snooker, with pinball and foosball coming later, until he retired in 1975, with cue sports giving way to an insurance and real estate brokerage in 1980.
Russ Hylbak turned from painting signs to running a pool hall on the Triangle, opening his business Aug. 28, 1943, and retiring in 1972. The portion of Railroad Street where his billiard parlor stood was destroyed by fire July 23, 1989.
Pride of place in Royer’s Billiard Room goes to the 10-foot Sport King billiard table, dating from the early 1970s. Royer said he bought the table from a Marshalltown business owner and refelted it himself with a high-quality worsted cloth, a cut above the low-grade felt that is better suited to soaking up spilled beer than supporting billiard balls.
The Billiard Room also boasts a 7-foot Brunswick eight ball table. Royer said the Diamond and Valley brands of tables are most sought after by today’s collectors, but his Brunswick works just fine.
The Billiard Room is not a regular business but more of a hobby for Royer, so hours will be flexible. He welcomes his fellow pool enthusiasts to stop by or call ahead.
“Come down and play some billiards or pool,” he said. “I’ll go down there anytime you want. Call or text me if you have a particular time at 515-975-3919.”