May 9, 1912: Life at Cape Evans: Tom Crean wins the billiard tournament

–from David Hirzel’s “Sailor on Ice:  Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic“–

“On May 9 the final round of the first billiard tournament had Crean and Keohane facing off, each baiting the other in words as much above the green as strategy upon it.  Tom Crean emerged victorious, his prize a bottle of beer.  Keohane was officially designated Jonah and given a tin medal to wear round his neck, with orders to declare at lunch a week hence, “I am Jonah!”  As if in answer, the hut rocked and creaked under the blows of the hard squalls from the southwest.  The young ice in South Bay, newly formed and yet tender, blew out again.  It would freeze over again before long, and by spring would be strong enough to carry the weights of men and mules and sledges.

“These would all need a refit before the spring campaign.  Antarctic winters were the time for making and mending all manner of sledging gear: new beckets for the finneskoes, bands and eyesplices for the sledging harness, new solder joints for the remaining primus burners.  A question always stood unanswered:  was there some flaw in the equipment, some failure of the sailor’s work that had led to the disaster?  There would have to be another expedition south in the spring to clear up the story.”

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