May 31, 2005

The Amazing Sol Lipkin.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 5:40 pm

Sol Lipkin, a member of our American Legion Post, showed up yesterday to take part in the Memorial Day Parade, the Memorial Day Ceremony at the town’s Memorial Park, as well as the Memorial Day open house, which was hosted by the Post.

Sol turned 99 last week.

Sol started his career with the American Shuffleboard Company in the 30’s, but with the outbreak of World War II, Sol interrupted his career to join the Navy at age 37. He spent the war years as a See Bee building airfields in the Aleutian Islands. After the war, he resumed his position with the American Shuffleboard Company and sold just about every shuffleboard that exists today in the United States. He has been referred to as the “Father of American Shuffleboard”.

However, don’t get the idea that, at age 99, Sol is a feeble shut-in, who is annually coaxed away from his rocking chair and lap blanket to be paraded about on Memorial Day. No sir. Sol stays busy – very busy. You see, he still works, and he works hard. He travels all over the country promoting shuffleboard playing at Dave and Buster’s, a nation-wide chain of well-organized places that feature excellent food, drinks and arcade-type games for grownups. He also spends time promoting the Cadillac of Shuffleboards – the “Sol Lipkin Shuffleboard”.

In the 60’s, Sol was asked by the U.S. Navy to oversee the installation of a shuffleboard on a nuclear submarine, the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Details and enlargeable pictures of the final installation can be seen here (You’ll have to scroll a tad).

At age 90, Sol was inducted into the National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame, which has since become known as the “Sol Lipkin Award”. Note: A couple photos of Sol appear at the previous link.

Sol’s extraordinary ability to sell is not limited to shuffleboards. When Sol learned of the American Legion’s Annual Poppy Drive a few years ago, the Post almost ran out of Poppies, because Sol single-handedly sold more than 500 of them outside a local supermarket.

His energy is seemingly boundless. At a 50’s and 60’s Dance thrown by the Post a few years ago, Sol showed up in a spiffy yellow sweater and outdanced people one third his age.

He was twice widowed and often speaks lovingly of both his wives. However, when I saw him yesterday he reported, with a twinkle in his eye, that he had just returned from spending a month working in Texas where he had the chance to spend a good deal of time with his “girlfriend.” He’ll be heading back to Texas in week or so, and then he’s off to a half dozen more states. He is irrepressible.

A few years back, I visited Sol at his home and, knowing that I enjoy a bit of bourbon now and then, he produced a well-aged bottle of I.W. Harper bourbon, a brand that is difficult – if not impossible – to find in stores anymore. We sipped the most excellent bourbon while I had the pleasure of having Sol share with me some facets of his life’s story. At the end of our visit, he told me that he would save the rest of the “special bottle” for my next visit.

Yesterday, he reminded me, “Jim, I still have that bourbon. You’ll have to stop by one of these days and we’ll finish it.”

I’ll make a point of it, because just as good bourbon improves with age, so does my amazing friend Sol.


  1. Excellent post!

    I used to routinely lose at shuffleboard and can’t tell you how many rounds that game cost me. Sol definitely brought a bit of joy to all who had the pleasure of playing me.

    Comment by Dan — May 31, 2005 @ 6:51 pm

  2. Sounds like a very nice man. I love the old tables with the grit on them, played a million games, Cat

    Comment by Catfish — May 31, 2005 @ 7:55 pm

  3. Jim, you have the best stories.

    Comment by Enlighten-New Jersey — May 31, 2005 @ 8:27 pm

  4. Jim Flynn: Thanks so much for the email directing us to this URL. I’m sorry you had problems signing the guest book, but we will add your link on the Amazing Sol Lipkin to the website where we have Sol Lipkin stories in several locations on the site (Player Profiles/Stories and in the Media News Articles section and the Sol Lipkin Awards sections).

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Lynda French, Webmaster for Bowers Corner & TSA websites

    Comment by Lynda French — June 1, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  5. I love to play shuffleboard! We challenged my kids to a game while we were in Jamaica. They were amazed at how hard it was. We trounced them soundly of course. lol

    Comment by rita — June 1, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

  6. Great post Jim!!

    Comment by Riss — June 2, 2005 @ 12:43 am

  7. I too get to have great conversation with Sol.
    I am looking forward to visiting with him at Dave and Busters this weekend. All who know him and can call him friend are blessed.
    Michael From TEXAS

    Comment by Michael Schnell — July 1, 2005 @ 7:45 am

  8. Recently aquired an old 22′ American Shuffleboard table in great shape, Everyone loves playing, kids,adults, everyone!! What a great game..

    Comment by G Persichilli — October 15, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

  9. Hi, Sol is in Texas now! Just finished the Houston Holiday Open @ Clear Lake Nasa Hilton Hotel. He saw many of his shuffelboard friends and enjoyed watching the tournament. He ever got to celebrate his 100th birthday. One more time! (He had 5 in all – Way to go Sol) Cake and song, from all those there, were a surprise for him. He went to Frank’s Hot Dog Shop to ring in the New Year after a lovely New Year’s Eve dinner at the local Perry’s Steak and Grill! Now it’s off on his 4th Elvis Cruise that leaves out of Galveston Jan. 13 for 5 days. Always on the go; he’s still very active.

    Happy New Year,
    Susan, long time friend from Deer Park Texas

    Comment by Susan Pacifico — January 6, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

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