April 3, 2011
On Hatteberg's People, Loyall Newell of Clay Center may know more about pool and billiards than anyone else, except for his son Joe. That's because he's lived that game most of his life. He began a business that now enjoys a national reputation. So Clay Center, Kansas has become the place to go for pool table restoration.
"I'm real, real fortunate."
Loyall Newell is more comfortable in a pool hall than probably anywhere else.
In downtown Clay Center, Loyall's antique store stands as a monument to the past.
"We've got a little bit of junk everywhere, and whether it will sell or not, we really don't know, but most everything we move."
Loyall once owned the antique shop next door to the pool hall, which is now run by his children.
"That table was made in 1885."
The Los Angeles Times called this place the 'Smithsonian of the pool business.'
"It cost about $50 dollars apiece to have them re-nickeled."
"I got the idea that those billiard tables could be cut up and made into pool tables, so I started buying billiard tables. I even had guys say, 'Yeah, if you get that S-O-B out of here, I'll give it to you."
Over time, he's purchased the contents of over 80 pool halls all over Kansas and elsewhere.
"There's a lot of stuff here."
He has made a lifetime business of restoring the old tables to their full luster.
"That's been my salvation in the last 60 years of the billiard table part of it. I just made pool tables out of them."
"Are you as good shooting pool as you are fixing the tables?"
"Well, I don't take no back seat to any of them."
In front....young customers know who to talk with as they furnish their homes with relics of the past.
"How much room you got?," Newell asks.
"I don't have enough room for a full size table, that's my problem."
Loyall knows exactly how much room you need for each table. He's put over 350 tables in the Kansas City area alone.
"You got to be proud of something you restored."
On his wall pictures with pool legends like "Fast Eddie" and many others.
"Those pictures were all taken over there in the pool hall."
His office is eclectic with life's little messes everywhere.
"Oh yeah, it would be."
He's done so much in his career...baseball...pool...you name it. It's a life-well-lived.
"It's been real interesting."
Mothers everywhere used to tell their sons to stay away from the pool halls.... Loyall did just the opposite...and his legend continues.