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Hillsboro pool game decades old

Contributing writer

On any given afternoon, the crack of pool balls can be heard emanating from the walls of the Hillsboro Senior Center. The noise has been heard there for decades.

“I got here in ’86,” Wilbur Hanneman said, “and they were already playing here. I came up from Peabody to deliver Meals on Wheels, and I’d come early and started to play. I don’t know when they started — maybe ’81?”

Currently six regulars play each weekday from 2-4 p.m. At 91, Hanneman is the elder statesman. Joining him are Lyle Faurot, Larry Hamm, Morris Hope, Dwayne Claassen, and Jerald Brown, who at 68 is the youngest. Each brings their own cue stick and cue case for the game.

“We used to have a lot of guys. Ray Franz, Ollie Mohn, Lynn Penner,” Brown said. “Now several are homebound, in the nursing home or gone.”

A second table, purchased in 1986, is rarely used now. All agree they would like to see more men come play.

The men agreed Brown is the best player, though Lyle Faurot said Ray Franz is a good player.

“Very consistent. He doesn’t get down here as much as he used to,” Faurot said.

During a coffee break Friday, the players took time to reminisce. They used to have pool tournaments with the Goessel Senior Center men, taking turns at the two locations. Goessel no longer has a senior center, but the tables remain.

“They moved them to the balcony of the church downtown,” Morris Hope said.

A lively discussion of how the tables came to be in the balcony ensued. Soon all agreed they were disassembled for the move.

Hope used to play in the Legion in Indiana where he lived before Hillsboro.

“My brother-in-law taught me how to play,” Brown said. “When I could beat him, I thought I was pretty good.”

Hanneman learned to play at the senior center.

“I never played until the Mennonites here taught me how when I moved here,” Hanneman said.

Women have never played pool with the guys.

“They’re not allowed,” Faurot joked.

Hanneman added that over the years, women have played in one or two games.

“If a woman came and beat us, it would be devastating,” Brown said.

How do their wives feel about their afternoons spent playing pool?

“Mine wants me in the house,” Hope said. “She says I come here too often.”

“My wife died 10 years ago,” Hanneman said. “We lacked one month of being married 60 years. I had already quit farming. I’m real glad I have something to do in the afternoons.”

“Some days we’re hot, and some days we’re not,” Hanneman said. “But it’s a lot of fun. We really enjoy it.”

Last modified April 15, 2015

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