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Tracking down the history of Booche’s

Earlier this week I put out a call on Tumblr for photos of present-day downtown Columbia and campus that we could match up with materials in our collections. Tumblr user thesetenthings contacted us to ask about the history of Booche’s, the downtown Columbia pool hall that has been open since 1884.  Named for “Booche” Venable, the first owner, Booche’s is a bit of a Columbia legend for its atmosphere, its burgers, and its long history.

Having eaten many a cheeseburger at Booche’s myself, I set about trying to find evidence of the pool hall in our digital collections: the Savitar yearbook, Missouri Alumnus, Showme Magazine, and the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  And I found quite a bit! In fact, I found so much that I decided to make it a full-fledged post on this blog rather than a quick Tumblr photoset.

Booche’s bounced around several different locations and advertised to students in its first 50 years.  If Booche’s was the only pool hall in town in the 1880s (and I’m guessing it was; Columbia had less than 10,000 people back then), its first location was near Broadway and Seventh. This Sanborn Map shows a billiards business next to the lumberyard owned by W. P. Maupin.


The earliest reference to Booche’s I could find in print in our digital collections was in the 1903 Savitar yearbook (there might be earlier references, but they’re not digitized, and for the sake of time for this post I was sticking to digital resources).  The 1903 Savitar has an ad that shows the interior but doesn’t mention the location. The next year, it simply says “Broadway and Tenth,” but doesn’t mention which corner of Broadway and Tenth.


Advertisement from the 1904 Savitar, page 246.

Why?  It might have been because Booche’s had three different locations on or near Broadway and Tenth between 1895 and 1911. Here’s the first I was able to find in the Sanborn Maps, which shows a pool and billiards hall near the southwest corner of Broadway and Tenth.


The next map, from 1902, shows a different business in that location and a pool hall on the northeast corner of Broadway and Tenth. This is probably the location shown in the photo ad from the Savitar.


In 1908, Booche’s was back near its 1895 location on the southwest corner of Broadway and Tenth, except this time it had the corner storefront and had expanded into the storefront behind it as well.


Finally, in 1911, Booche’s moved onto Ninth Street.  But it wasn’t in its present-day location yet; it was across the street, on the second floor of the Virginia Building.  The ad below from the 1911 Savitar announces the move and shows what must have been the interior at Broadway and Tenth, since the same photo was used in an ad the previous year.


Advertisement from the 1911 Savitar, page 361.



Advertisement from the 1917 Savitar, page 500.


Advertisement from the 1920 Showme, page 28.

I wasn’t able to verify this with maps, but according to this 1976 Missouri Alumnus article, Booche’s moved into its present location in 1930.  Booche’s advertised regularly in the Savitar yearbooks and the Showme magazine through the 1920s.  It changed hands several times, but it remained a popular student hangout.


“Booche’s hath many charms, too” from the 1945 Savitar, page 187.

Articles in the 1976 Alumnus and the 1983 Savitar discuss more about Booche’s history – such as the fact that it barred women until the 1970s, that it was originally known for its ham sandwich, not its cheeseburger, and that you couldn’t get a beer there until relatively recently.  You can read more from each of those articles in the links above, or browse through the digital collections on your own. They’re freely available to everyone!

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Posted in Special Collections

See Spot Run!

Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot: icons in 20th century American education.

DickJaneSallySpotThe New We Work and Play  by William S. Gray, A. Sterl Artley, and May Hill Arbuthnot. Published 1951.

The Dick and Jane Reader Series was an extremely popular Reader collection used in American classrooms from the 1930's-1970's. Peaking in popularity in the 1950's, it is estimated that almost 80% of Readers used in 1st grade classrooms were from the Dick and Jane series. These Readers focused on whole language and repetition to teach children how to read. University of Missouri-Columbia professor, Dr. A. Sterl Artley, played an important part in the production and study of these books. Dr. Artley won the Thomas Jefferson Award and was a Reading Hall of Fame winner for his work on the series.

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Posted in Special Collections

Theodore Roosevelt-Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter

This limited edition was signed by Theodore Roosevelt!



Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt

Published 1905, New York




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Posted in Special Collections

Germania Kalender and the Academic Hall Fire of 1892

Academic Hall burned 122 years ago today, leaving the Columns to become a Mizzou icon.  Before the fire, the building housed classrooms, offices, libraries, and museums – almost the entire university.  Although parts of the Law Library were salvaged, the main library was a total loss.  Almost.

Germania Kalender survived because it was checked out during the fire.  However, it wasn't returned to the University until 1937, forty-five years later.  After it came back, it was placed in the Rare Book Room. It's in rough condition – who knows what it went through over at least 45 years of being checked out? – but it's been here ever since.

Damaged cover

Frontispiece and title page

The book was returned by Henry Gerling of St. Louis.  The date, September 24, 1884, and the library stamp for Missouri State University (which was one of the names used by the University of Missouri at the time) alerted him to the book's history.

Letter returning the book to MU

Pre-fire library stampWhen the book was returned, the story made the news.  These are clippings from the Kansas City Star (left) and the Columbia Missourian (right) from April 14, 1937.1937 news clippings

Germania Kalender has calendars and an almanac, as you'd expect from the title, but it also contains pictures and readings on various subjects for the entire family.


Political illustration

It even includes some early comics!

Early comic!

Early comic!

Find it in the MERLIN catalog.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

Economic Frustration – Then and Now

In a tough economy, it’s easy to forget that millions of Americans before our time have struggled as well. Cartoonist John T. McCutcheon’s comics show that high unemployment and turmoil in the stock market aren’t unique to this generation of Americans.

The Unemployed

The Unemployed (click to enlarge)

Our McCutcheon comic collection contains original pen-and-ink drawings that date from 1903 to 1944, many of which were published in the Chicago Tribune. While he covered a range of issues of the day, McCutcheon’s wit and biting satire shined in his depiction of economic hardships.

"1913 Bread Line: He Kept Us out of Work"

"1913 Bread Line: He Kept Us out of Work" (click to enlarge)

Figure 1 and Figure 2, from 1913 and 1916, both show the depression and struggle of being unemployed. McCutcheon demonstrates his mastery over the medium by using merely a few darker lines to show how isolated and alone his unemployed man is, compared to the happy and joyful families walking down the street.

We’ve seen a roller coaster ride in the stock market recently, but nothing compares to the Crash of 1929, which led to a decade-long Great Depression. Our last cartoons, Figures 3 and 4, show two instances of men who lost it all on Wall Street, and wonder if they’ll ever get it back. Little do they, or McCutcheon know – the worst economic downturn in history is only beginning.

The Bursting of the Stock Bubble

The Bursting of the Stock Bubble (click to enlarge)

John McCutcheon’s comics captured the mood of the day, and sometimes it’s surprising how much relevance 100-year old sketches can have to our own time. His entire collection of over 300 cartoons and drawings is available to all patrons.

The Sun of Prosperity...

The Sun of Prosperity... (click to enlarge)

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Posted in Comic Collection
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