by Lisa Tome
Joe Smith and Ray Lewis don't talk about politics or religion.
Instead they focus on bigger matters such as getting the 8 ball in the corner pocket.
The two men, Smith, 70, and Lewis, 79, play pool every weekday in a small room just down the hall from Elkton's Senior Center. While other seniors attend nutrition programs and exercise classes, the two men, and a few others, opt to just play pool. They've been playing for about two years and haven't tired of the daily competitions.
"We get here at 8 a.m. and we play until 11:30 or 12," said Lewis. "I used to play a lot a few years ago. Now I come to the Senior Center to play pool." The two men also opt to drive their own cars to the center instead of catching the bus. They also arrive at the center at least 90 minutes before most of the other seniors.
Smith brings his own pool cue for the games. He's serious about winning. He said that he and Lewis are evenly matched at pool. When they team up, against others for a dual meet, they are unbeatable.
"He's better than me," said Lewis.
"We're about the same," said Smith.
"They used to have a pool hall downtown. This (senior center) is a place to practice. But when they mop the floor here, they don't put the table back right," said Lewis.
They play traditional 8 Ball. But they only require shot calling for the win.
While they play for fun, the daily games are also therapy. Smith has had two strokes. He said the games help his coordination.
Lewis goes to therapy for shoulder problems. He said the games keep his arms moving.
The games also give the men a chance to spend time together, just playing.
"Where I live, there's nobody. My wife died and I have a dog. I look forward to this. It gives me something to do," said Smith.
"I'm retired. I get up and come here. I worked at El's Tires. I changed tires for 30 years," said Lewis. "I also drove a truck and worked on the railroad."
"I did cement work," said Smith, who is a New Jersey native, and owned his own company.
The men were surprised at each other's career paths.
"We don't talk. We just shoot pool," said Lewis.
Teresa Gordon, a staffer for Cecil's Department of Community Services, said the pool table was found online a few years ago and cost $50. She said that was money well spent.