The Fir Cone Tavern Shelton, Washington has a long and distinguished
history going back 75 years. Shuffleboard in the Pacific Northwest
started at the Fir Cone. In April 1995 Mel and Jeanette Hohn bought
the Fir Cone Tavern. They
had grandiose plans (as every new bar owner does) to get rid of
the shuffleboard tables and to put in a dance floor and bring
in Rock & Roll and Country & Western bands. The shuffleboard
players were mad and stayed away in droves!
Fortunately for everyone involved,
the June 1995 Forest Festival tournament was already scheduled.
Gonzales and Bill Shanahan were in charge of
that event, and 40 teams showed up and competed for the $5,000
in prize money. It’s not clear if they showed up to “say
good-bye” to the Fir Cone or to show Mel and Jeanette that
keeping the shuffleboard tables was a good idea. In any case,
Mel and Jeanette decided that perhaps the shuffleboard tables
weren’t dead wood after all!
Being a spectator at the Forest Festival Tournament gave Mel the
shuffleboard fever and he started shooting.
Mel credits local shuffleboard player, Leroy Austin, with teaching
him to play. One day Leroy saw Mel tossing weights around and
said “for a beer” he would teach him how to play.
After paying Leroy's bar tab for too many months to mention, Leroy
decided the time had come to up the ante to $5 a game. It didn't
take Mel long to realize he would have to improve or go
broke. Mel became Leroy's best student and Leroy became Mel's
Jeanette Hohn, seeing this activity
nightly, soon realized
that if she wasn’t careful she was going to be a shuffleboard
widow. Jeanette also took up the game. Since then, Jeanette and
Mel have won several mixed doubles and A-B tournament across the
Northwest earning them the nicknames of TBK and Devil Woman. They
have also hosted some of the best tournaments in Washington.
The Fir Cone Tavern was the site of the last Washington
State Tournament (2002). Reigning state champs Vern Gonzales
and Mel Hohn are still waiting to defend their titles. Hopefully
there will be another Washington State tournament in the near
future where more new players can strut their stuff.
In an attempt to get new players into the game, Mel & Jeanette
Hohn started the amateur and division II tournament in the Northwest
in 1998. They ran a series of amateur tournaments with a point
system for the winners. Qualified players (those with enough points)
were invited to play in the Amateur Championship and compete for
an all expense paid trip to the NASC in Reno. It was a huge success
and resulted in the acquiring of such players as Jeff Kersting,
Paulette McKinney, and Judy George. Now Friday nights before a
tournament are always A/B draws to give new players a chance at
winning and A-B Meat Shoots are also held (for a $3.00 entry fee
players shot for “meat” as the prize).