Maurice 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."
“Everybody down here was playing 8-ball and we had three or four tables in the park, so I started playing,” he said. “I hadn’t played since high school.”
Parent was one of 32 men and nine women participating in the 8-ball tournament. Other billiard events include 9-ball and 10-ball for individuals and doubles.
“This is a better turnout than last year,” said Kristyna Mancias, superintendent of athletics for the City of McAllen. “We break it up into age groups – 52 to 74 and 75 and up to make it a little fair. Of course, last year we reopened after COVID and there are still many coming back. It’s great to see them all coming back and playing these games they enjoy.”
Emma “Buffie” Pardue captured a bronze medal in the women’s 8-ball last year and received a first-round bye for this year’s event.
A Pittsburgh native who now lives at Tropic Star in Pharr, she started coming to the Valley in 2005 after being persuaded by some friends who had started coming to the Valley prior.
“They said come and you’ll like it,” Buffie said. “They said the prices were good, the food was good, the people were great – everything was good.”
A lifelong teacher, Buffie and her husband would play pool regularly. She started playing when she was in her 20s. Unfortunately, he became ill with cancer and the two stopped playing. She picked it back up about six years ago.
“Some days you can do well and other days you can’t,” she said. “At the park yesterday, we had a couple’s thing and the first two games I couldn’t put a ball in. It was awful and I was like, ‘Well, I hope I don’t play like this tomorrow’.”
Results from the men’s and women’s 8-ball tournament:
75 & Up
1st Place – Ed Baranowki
2nd Place – Paul Rose
3rd Place – Bob Evans
52 & Up
1st Place – Larrie Kidd
2nd Place – Denis Gaudet
3rd Place – Ron Sheedy
1st Place – Kathy Thate
2nd Place – Kerry Fehr
3rd Place – Barbara Badi