LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MR. CECIL MAXWELL
d n english“
Combination Ambassador,Tour Guide, and Town Concierge”
Cecil Maxwell was born January 16, 1927. He quit school when he was in the ninth grade to help support his family. His father was a carpenter but with nine children everyone had to help.Cecil’s first job was repairing bicycles then moved to Joe’s Café as overseer of the poolroom. Soon he was the pool player to beat around town.He worked at Joe’s until he joined the military.
He served two and half years military fourteen months overseas. Their unit was on their way to Japan when the bomb was dropped.Their ship just turned around and headed home.When he got out of the military he returned to Jackson to Joe’sto oversee the pool hall and hustle pool all over West Tennessee.
In 1965 Cecil and a friend bought Buddy Milner’s pool hall located upstairs on 110 South Liberty (Buddie’s). He had run the pool hall for 26 years. Until Clark Shaw bought the building and did not renew Cecil’s lease.
The day I was interviewing Mr. Cecil he told me “I was upset but not as upset as some of my customers.” He laughed“But you know I survived the war, a round of TB(losing half of lung), cancer, I stopped smoking and drinking cold turkey so this is just another challenge.” Mr Cecil bought the building on Lafayette in 1992 renovated and set up his pool hall.
Oh the stories he could tell.
One was about a poker game when he was still gambling in the late 1940’s. The poker game was made up of high rollers from Jackson and held in South Jackson. “That faithful night we were enjoying our drink and a friendly game when the door opened. Masked men came in waving guns they tied us up with piano wire, gagged us and warned us not to attempt to escape or we would be shot. It was a bit of a shock. By the time we escaped the bandits were gone they had taken the $30,000 pot.He grinned “No we did not call the law.”
Mr. Cecil said he had been married to the same women for almost 50 years. “She has put up with a lot” he said As he began talking about his son, Chris, he had a twinkle in his eye. He was so proud of his son and adored his grandchildren.
Mr. Cecil may have had only one son but the young men he gave advice to from behind the bar number in the thousands over the years in his pool halls. Later as more ladies took up pool or came in just to flirt with the guys they were also gifted with his advice. For many he was a surrogate father.
One father of a young lady told him. “I don’t mind if my girl plays pool here. “You let it be known you will not tolerate drunks, no drugs, cursing or inappropriate behavior. No one wants to be known as someone who got banned from Buddie’s.”
As many a former Jackson Sun reporter would tell you “You may go to Mr Cecil for a quote but end up with the story .”I spent many hours listening to Mr. Cecil’s stories. I could fill a book with his stories and quotes.Mr. Cecil passed away March 20th 2004. I was happy he got to read my article and approve of it before he died.
He was a beloved gentleman of Jackson.So on behalf of the many who had the privilege of knowing you and benefited from your advice. Happy Father’s Day in heaven Mr. Cecil.
Based on interviews from 1998. the original story appeared in The City News then in Downtown Wanderings 2003
One thought on “MR. CECIL”
Yes when we were kids my dad would walk around the corner to Joe’s leaving us to roam around in Woolworths. Oh mother was in there somewhere. But we wanted to climb upon a stool and order a pimento cheese sandwich and a coke from the fountain that would burn our nose. Mesmerized by the dumb waited that came down with clean dishes and glasses.