The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Court Hall Remembers . . .

Court vs. Metcalf

Court Hall Remembers---
(Recollections of Jackson County Sporting Events by Veteran Sportsman.)

    In the year of 1899 Medford had an insurance man by the name of Metcalf living in its midst. Metcalf was a man of fine appearance, had a good education, a fluent conversationalist, and had polished manners when sober. His age was about the middle forties. Metcalf was not above trying every crooked method known in order to raise the necessary cash for his expensive habits. One time he nearly got sent over the road by changing the date on a note to become due earlier than originally intended. Metcalf was overbearing and quarrelsome when in his cups.
    While at Jacksonville one night, Geo. Neuber objected to the manner Metcalf was slicing meat for sandwiches. The argument ended in a fight. The stove was upset together with a boiler for hot water that scalded several spectators. Metcalf was a legally appointed agent, but consumed the most of his time playing poker. Before a game of poker, Metcalf would buy the drinks quite liberally. His reason for this was that he wanted to get his opponents in a state of intoxication so that he could apply his cheating methods without detection. He nearly always won, and his luck seemed remarkable. Occasionally he would make trips to the rural districts where he would give a party to a few well-to-do farmers. The party always ended up in a poker game, and Metcalf getting the money. One of these trips he won $2,000. Metcalf had been here nearly a year, had played poker with everyone but me. I did not like the man's overbearing ways and made it a point to leave him alone. I was living in Gold Hill when Metcalf paid a visit to that town. His sole purpose was to get me in a poker game. Before the game, he did his usual treating. Most of my drinks went into a cuspidor. Metcalf soon challenged me for a game of stud poker. As I did not like him, I did not want to play. He said something about me being yellow, which made me accept his challenge. Up to this time Metcalf's cheating methods had never been exposed; however, I was almost sure he was using a ring with a glass. In a game he would always sham intoxication so that his clumsy dealings would be less noticeable. Just prior to this, a gambler from Alaska left a few decks of marked cards with me. It was the finest work I have ever seen, and impossible to read without the combination. I thought if Metcalf would play square I would do the same. If he would cheat, I would cheat. I soon knew I was getting the works, and had played less than thirty minutes when I was $250.00 loser. My luck being bad, I called for a new deck in such a manner that the clerk readily understood what was wanted. Now I had the advantage. I knew Metcalf's hole card on every deal, while he only knew mine when he dealt. Very soon a play came up on Metcalf's deal. I had the six of clubs and he had the six of spades in the hole. My first card up was the queen of hearts. Metcalf got the jack of clubs. He kept raising me at every turn of the cards. I was afraid to raise him for fear that Metcalf might draw a card higher than my queen. But as luck would have it all the rest of the cards drawn were smaller than my queen and also smaller than his jack. However, Metcalf had all clubs in sight. I said to myself, "O! You lucky six of clubs." I did not know the denomination of the suits and would have been forced to lay down, but for my six of clubs being in the hole. I bet $50.00, Metcalf knowing that I had only a six-spot in the hole, naturally thought I was bluffing. I knew positively that he would come back at me, which he did by raising me another $50.00. I then raised Metcalf $100.00. Without hesitating, Metcalf called my $100.00 and raised me $240, all the money he had on the table. I stalled a while to make the play seem harder and called. Metcalf was astonished. It was hard to realize that I had won almost a $1,000.00 pot on queen high.
    I crammed the money in my pocket, walked around the table, grabbed Metcalf's left hand and told him I wanted to see that ring. I got the ring almost off his finger, but in the struggle Metcalf got his hand in his pocket and worked the ring off. He had two rings just exactly alike, the honest ring he would wear when not playing poker, so no notice would be taken when he wore the glass ring when playing. He had worked this racket on the boys for almost one year without being caught. Afterwards, Metcalf threatened to kill me for exposing him. He soon left the country when he found his breadwinner was gone.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 23, 1930, page 6

Last revised September 2, 2009