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Skills needed for successful shuffleboard

Shuffleboard 01 webThere’s a variety of skills needed to be successful at shuffleboard. Not all of them require great math skills and knowing angles – but that probably doesn’t hurt.
They need hand-eye coordination, to be able to communicate in double without communicating – sort of like a pitcher and catcher in baseball. A deft touch, with a willingness to be aggressive as well is good too.

Having played for years – better known as gaining experience – usually helps too.

That was the only box not checked by Tropic Star’s Ellie and Tom Chadwick as they captured the amateur mixed doubles title Monday during the City of McAllen’s Golden Age Olympics.

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Still shufflin’ at 102

20240131 Venus Miller shuffleboard webAs Venus Hall and I walked over to some bleachers away from the competitors to sit for this interview, the native “Okie” just climbed up to the top row as if he was 40 years old, younger than me, more stable on his feet and the only shuffling coming when he’s shuffle boarding either at Snow to Sun Park or during the current Golden Age Olympics with his wife Betty.

As we took our seats, I sat one row below while he easily took a spot on the top row, the first thing I asked him was if the rumors were true that he was 102 years old.

“January 13, 1922,” he quickly replied.

From the Army, to living and working on a ranch “for a whole big $4 per day” to turning a crappie pole into a shuffleboard stick, Hall was as fascinating to talk to as it was to watch his wife Bettie play shuffleboard – winning a state championship twice and an international title once.

“Man, she’s just won about everything,” Venus said. The couple met in Missouri and Betty needed to wait six years before she could retire. After that, some friends invited them to come check out life as Winter Texans. They came to visit and are now going on their 26th year at Snow to Sun.

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Bringing football to the 500 table

1T4A8023 webThe colorful jackets displayed the loyalty of NFL fans across the country during the city of McAllen’s Golden Age Olympics cards tournament at the Palmview Community Center recently.

The annual Olympics is a multi-week event with several competitions – from bird watching, to cards to pickleball, shuffleboard and more. While Winter Texans and their parks comprise most of the competitors, residents from across the Valley who meet the criteria can also participate.

500 or Five Hundred is a trick-taking game developed in the United States from Euchre, another card tournament that will take place in February. Most games are played with four players – two against two.

Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills fans, among others wore their team colors proudly. Ironically missing was any Dallas Cowboys garb, maybe because by this time they were also missing from the playoffs – eliminated by the “Pack.”

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Cooler weather makes good for a round of cards

Hearts GAO 03 webRick Light is a competitor.

Whether he’s playing cards online or in person, hitting the pickleball courts on a regular basis, or riding his bike daily, he thrives in and around competition.

“Today is the first day I haven’t ridden my bike,” the St. Paul, Minn. native said during a break from the City of McAllen’s Golden Age Olympics “hearts” competition at Lark Community Center. “I rode it up here last year. I was going to do it today.”

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Yahoo card games bringing people to the table

20230201 Cheap Seats Yahoo Courtesy 03 webMove over Bingo, there’s a new kid in town – Yahoo (not as in yippee – yahoo is the name of the game).

“It’s really growing,” said Robert Jacques, a Canadian resident who lives at Sleepy Valley Resort in Mission with his wife from October to April and has been a Winter Texan for 16 years now. “There are ladies that arrive an hour before the game. They have their specific chair and table and toys to put on the table. They’ll bring chocolates and candies and play other things until the game starts.

“It’s really a social game.”

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Hearts: Run ‘em or right ‘em

20230120 GAO Hearts HMiller 01 webThe card game “Hearts” has been around since the 1800s and took center stage last week at the City of McAllen Golden Age Olympics.

The Golden Age Olympics runs through Feb. 25 and there are dozens of active, and passive, events to compete in. From table tennis, golf and volleyball to card games, cheer, and walking, there are plenty of options for senior citizens to compete in.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more locals participating,” Darrell Paul said. “We definitely want to take advantage of so many fun things the City of McAllen provides.”

Twenty participants broke up into five tables of four to see who this year’s champion would be, using trickery, reading each other’s moves and hoping to shoot the moon.

Darrell Paul and his wife Barbara are hearts veterans who also plan to compete in other GAO events including euchre, pinochle and 500. Barbara is a three-time champ at 500.

“I’ve only got a bronze so far,” said Darrell. “My wife has played a lot more than I have but I’m hoping to get one this year.”

The Paul’s have been coming to the Valley for 15 years, skipping out on the four nastiest months back in Davenport, Iowa. When they’re here, they keep extremely busy.

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Winter Texans enjoy some competitive 8-ball

20230118_GAO_Pool_IMG_7123-web.pngMaurice Parent’s father died while he was in school and his mother worked to provide for the family.

While his friends were being paid allowances, Maurice wasn’t. Well, that’s not totally true. More often than not, Maurice won some of his friends’ allowances, beating them on one of 15 or 16 pool tables, actually snooker tables, set in the basement of a game hall.

“I let them win sometimes,” Maurice joked prior to the McAllen Parks and Recreation 43rd annual Golden Age Olympics men’s 8-ball competition at Fast Eddies in McAllen. “I didn’t get an allowance so I would take theirs.”

Maurice started coming to the Valley in 2006 and resides at Citrus Valley RV Park in McAllen. When he was in high school “earning” his allowance, they played snooker, a game similar to billiards but played with 22 balls, including a cue ball, 15 red balls and six other balls, called the "colours."

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January 11, 2022 - From the Cheap Seats

20230111 Winter Texan Bowling HMiller IMG 7089 webWinter Texans clash in local alleys

Stan Hawkins has bowled for 18 years. Wearing his “Flintstones” bright orange team uniform, designed by teammate Rich Michelena, the “Bowling Stones” and “Pin Pals” were two of several teams who hit the lane at Flamingo Bowl in McAllen for league play.

The lanes were dotted on this day with several neon-colored jerseys from different Winter Texan Parks. Hawkins is a Bentsen Grove resident.

Read more: January 11, 2022 - From the Cheap Seats

January 4, 2023 - From the Cheap Seats

20230104 Shuffleboard 1 webShufflers are shufflin’ again

It wasn’t very long ago that shuffleboard was shuffling itself in the wrong direction, not just in the Valley, but around the country.

Not only were fewer Winter Texans taking part in the long-loved sport, but COVID-19 added to its rapid slow-down.

But shufflers are shuffling again, and new shufflers are coming in at a rate not seen in many years.

Read more: January 4, 2023 - From the Cheap Seats

Square Dancing: A symphony for the floor

20220107 SquareDancing MissionBell HMiller 03 WEBA revival may be coming for those interested in square dancing.

Lessons and square dances are popping up at Winter Texan parks across the Valley. More importantly, both veterans and “newbies” are finding a keen interest in taking part.

A few couples attended recently at Mission Bell RV Park in Mission, where Robert Ferguson teaches a weekly class Friday afternoons.

Chuck Berry, not to be confused with the rock 'n roll Chuck Berry, and his wife Phyllis are part of the newbie group.

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Pickleball fun at Casa Del Valle

pickleball IMG 4841 webDawn Hardy is a self-described fierce competitor.

Watching her play confirms that unless you're watching the non-stop smile on her face when she's playing.

A former college athlete who has played volleyball, softball, and numerous other sports, it only took her a couple pickleball games back home in Topeka, Kansas to fire up those competitive engines.

“I love it,” said Hardy during the weekly pickleball mixer at Casa Del Valle in Alamo. “I especially love the friendships.”

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San Benito lights up

San Benito Christmas HMiller 01 webSAN BENITO – One year ago, children were studying from home, adults were working from home and a new hybrid way of life was taking shape as COVID-19 left an unbridled path of both fear and devastation around the world.

Even Santa stayed begrudgingly cuddled up in his North Pole home along with the Missus, the elves, and the reindeer, knowing full well that all rooftops and chimneys had become off limits, even if he wore a mask.

Last week, however, a much-needed spirit lifter and highly anticipated Christmas tree lighting in San Benito brought nearby and surrounding communities together to Heavin Park in droves. The annual event welcomed more than an estimated 1,000 people, many of whom were excited to return and take part in an activity that was just another step toward reaching normalcy, whatever their normal might be.

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Jams are back in session

20211105 McAllen Mobile Jam HMiller 05 webMaybe the single greatest sign of a return to normalcy happened last week at McAllen Mobile Park for the first “Opry” jam of the Winter Texan season.

Yet, the biggest sign was that the word that has dominated conversations around the world wasn't even mentioned. In fact, nothing about the year that was put on hold was heard.

That will stay that way too, at least for this article, because on this date, Friday, Nov. 5, everything seemed as it should.

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Swinging, searching and talking: A perfect day on any golf course

2021 1015 GOLF Winter Texan Group HMiller 01 webIt didn’t take long for Larry Riesselman and I to strike up a conversation. After all, we were on a golf course and, as everyone knows, other than swinging, and looking for your ball, the time is spent telling tales and reminiscing about days gone by.

I happened to run into Larry, his wife Pat and Steve Glass on Palm View Golf Course in McAllen. Larry has been golfing since he was in his 20s and, well, since he’s a Winter Texan (who lives here 6.5 months a year now while back in Minnesota for 5.5 months), that means he’s done a lot of swinging (he has two holes-in-one!), a lot of looking for golf balls and a ton of conversing on the courses.

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