100 years of shuffling in Florida
Stan McCormackThe Davis Memorial shuffleboard annual event was held at the Avon Park Shuffleboard Club on Friday.
Published: November 27, 2012
Published: November 27, 2012
Both George Davis and Clara Davis were active Avon Park members when the club had a membership of 649 active members who participated primarily in shuffleboard. However; it is clear that the clubhouse was also used for dancing, cards and games, potluck dinners, bingo, teaching crafts and picture slide shows.
Although club membership is down, all 22 courts were used on Friday, as the crowd of nearly 100 gathered to pay respect to the Davis Family of an earlier era and to look forward to the future.
Those in attendance were reminded that the Florida Shuffleboard Association is celebrating 100 years of shuffleboard in the state. It began on the East Coast of Florida, when the Ball Family returned from a cruise and painted courts on the sidewalk in front of their Lyndhurst Hotel in Daytona, for the enjoyment of their patrons.
By the 1920s, shuffleboard had spread throughout many parts of Florida, with the establishment of clubs at St Petersburg, and possibly Lake Wales.
Richard (Dick) Davis, son of George and Clara Davis, was present to-day for the Memorial Event. He has sponsored this event for the past several years. The Davis Family is from Maine.
The FSA is celebrating this significant anniversary of the sport in the state, which has a long and rich history.
Shuffleboard began in England; in its earliest form the game was played by alternate shooting of silver coins on a board. Near the end of the board and parallel to the end, a line called a "deuce line" was drawn. It was toward this line that the coins were slid to make scores.
If the coins passed the line, but did not go off the end, it scored two. If the coin not only passed the deuce line, but projected over the end without falling off, it was called a "ship" and scored three.
When neither opponent shot a coin to pass the line, the nearest coin to the line scored one. Only one score was counted each round. This game was played during the reign of Henry IV (1399-1413) in England, and it's possible that this game was played earlier than this.
It had quite a few names at that time, due probably to the manner in which it was played in different parts of England. The game of shuffleboard was introduced as a deck sport on board ocean liners in the early 1800s. It has always been a very popular game on ocean liners and it is to this form of shuffleboard that we owe the present game now played on land.
Shuffleboard first became a land game in Florida in 1913 when it was played on an improvised court set up by the Ball family. The game at once became popular and a number of the players donated the necessary funds to build the first cement court (then called a lane) near the Burgoyne Casino in 1915.
This court, on the bank of the Halifax River in Daytona, became the forerunner of countless shuffleboard courts now found scattered throughout practically all cities of Florida, as well as in many other sections of the United States.
Shuffleboard courts rapidly spread across the entire country in the 1930s and 40s. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Projects Administration built shuffleboard courts on playgrounds in many public parks.
Early in 1923 Mr. P. T. Ives of Meriden, Conn., who had played shuffleboard aboard ships, came to St. Petersburg as a tourist to spend the winter and at once saw the possibilities of the game and urged the park board to build a couple of courts in Mirror Lake Park. So enthusiastic was he in regard to the value of the game to the city, that after some investigation and much urging on the part of Mr Ives, it was decided to build the two courts, which was done in the fall of 1923, just in front of where the new two-story clubhouse now stands.
On Jan. 24, 1924, the club was organized, thus becoming the very first organized shuffleboard club in Florida. The club was called the Mirror Lake Park Shuffleboard Club. Mirror Lake continued to lead the way during this period and in the early 1940s club membership exceeded 5,000.
The St. Petersburg Club established the rules that would become the standards of the game in 1924 and was the driving force behind the formation of the National Shuffleboard Association in 1929. Just two years later in 1931, the first national tournament was held.
The first national shuffleboard tournament for women took place in 1932. The International Shuffleboard (ISA) was formed in March of 1979 and held its very first tournament in 1981. Its third national tournament took place in St. Petersburg in 1983 and it will host the 32nd international tournament in October, 2013.
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