The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Court Hall Remembers . . .

Court vs. the Mild-Mannered Stranger

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

    About thirty-six years ago I met a small clerical-looking man with whiskers on the street of Central Point. I really at first thought he was a minister of the gospel; in fact he had such a kind look that I immediately took a great liking to him. After a few minutes' conversation he began to talk life insurance and plainly instilled in my mind that insurance was his regular business. Shortly he proposed to have a little game of poker in a nearby place for a cigar. Being somewhat egotistical about my own poker playing, I readily accepted the challenge. After winning a couple of cigars off me, the meek-looking individual sitting opposite proposed playing for one dollar per stack and, not daunted over the loss of a couple of cigars, I accepted the change of stakes. At the close of the game I was some fifteen dollars loser; the stranger commented on my hard luck and bid me a friendly adieu. In a few days he was back again. I was naturally anxious to get even, so at it again we went. This time he picked me for thirty-five dollars, and then gave me his usual friendly goodbye.
    After the gentleman had left, I got to thinking of the unusual plays that came up. Every time I had a good hand he would lay down; every time I made a bluff he would call--especially on his deal. By this time I knew I was getting the works and was anxious for his return in order to give me an opportunity to try and find out in what manner I was getting cheated. I was sure the pious-looking stranger thought he had a good thing and would soon return, and he sure did. I had made up my mind to play very careful, but it was not long until a play came up when we each had sixty dollars in the pot, when I suddenly put my left hand on the money and walked around the table and says, "Let me see that thing you are using on me." When I got around to his chair I noticed that he held his knees close together. I pulled them apart, and there lay a little mirror, about two by three inches in size, on his chair. I said, "Why did you do that to me?" He said, "I thought I would pluck the goose as long as she kept laying the golden eggs."
    Needless to say I kept the large pot, which made me more than even. I also kept the mirror as a memento.
    This meek-looking individual told me he practiced fifteen years before he could deal perfect with the mirror. In dealing he would draw the card towards him far enough and over the edge of the table to catch the denomination of the cards. Anything unusual about his dealing was not discernible to the average player. Some fifteen years after this I came back from a fishing trip and found this same man playing a game of poker with a friend of mine. He no more than saw me when he quit the game and took the first train out of Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 2, 1930, page 7

Last revised September 2, 2009