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Seniors invited to intergenerational pool hall

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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Daniel King keeps his eye on the ball during a game of ping pong.

Daniel King keeps his eye on the ball during a game of ping pong.

Maybe the seniors were scared.

On Tuesday night, the Needham Center at the Heights hosted an “intergenerational pool hall” where kids were supposed to play pool or ping pong against seniors. But, while kids ranging from 12 to 5 showed up ready to go, only one senior was there.

Jean Johnson, the lone senior to show up for the event, noted that there are a lot of men who play at the Center, but that it can be intimidating to play because they are so good. As a result, she has been looking for people to play with, and the intergenerational pool event seemed like a good time. Johnson grew up playing pool, noting “I had played as a kid. We had a little table in the basement. It had been 60 years, but it all came back. You never forget.”

Johnson helped the kids learn some of the pool terms, at one point noting that the cue ball needed to go back “to the kitchen,” but acknowledged there are so many terms, even she doesn’t know them all.

It was interesting to see how familiar the kids were with pool, considering the demise of pool halls around the country. Eighth-grader Shea Chowda, who first acknowledged how often he hears jokes about his last name because of the state he lives in, lives in an apartment building with a pool table in the lobby. Chowda was impressed with the Center’s quality of table; the one in his apartment building has scratched felt from years of usage.

Liam King shows his skills in eight ball.

Liam King shows his skills in eight ball.

Daniel King came with his brother, Liam, because he both likes pool and “likes hanging out with his grandpa, so it seemed the same.” Freshman Elizabeth Gutilla, meanwhile, had volunteered with seniors before and was surprised to learn that the seniors didn’t live in the building.

The event was organized by social worker Katy Colhart, who was looking to find ways to get the youth and seniors to interact. While there have been other events, like dinners, and she was thinking about having movie or video game nights, after seeing how much fun everyone was having, it would be a shame if the intergenerational pool hall didn’t become a recurring thing.

Johnson lines up a shot as Chowda looks on.

Johnson lines up a shot as Chowda looks on.

Hopefully more seniors will come (the woman who organized the event from the senior side was sick, which may have caused issues, as well) but if it’s competition they’re worried about, the seniors don’t have much to fear.

After watching the kids play for upwards of an hour, three things became abundantly clear: Liam and Daniel King, Elizabeth Gutilla, and Shea Chowda are four subpar pool players, mediocre ping-pong athletes, but great kids.

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