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Memories of the game room

By Jan Miller Penton

Several years ago when my kids were in the youth group at First Baptist we decided to create a spot for them to hang out. We always loved spending time with our children, and knew a lot of the other kids from various activities so the idea of luring their friends to our house meant more time with our precious ones, but it also meant we would know they were safe and not getting into trouble.
I don’t think our children suspected that all the hours their Dad spent enclosing the garage and painstakingly restoring an old pool table from a local pool hall was for their benefit. We furnished the room with cheap, yet durable furniture and added a foosball table when Christmas rolled around.
The pool table that Robby found was tucked away in the corner of a pool hall on Canal Street. It was in pieces and had to be totally redone. Glen R. took to the project with gusto, and soon had it looking almost new. It was quite the undertaking to get the extremely heavy slate top into our house, but with the help of friends it happened.
I found what I considered to be just the right wallpaper border, paint color, and decorations to create an inviting teenage environment, and before long the garage/ game room was often filled to overflowing with young people. Many weekend nights several decided to sleep over.
They knew the house rules, and all were welcome to stay. I just took a headcount in the mornings for breakfast because it was often hard to tell one from the other as they lay on sofas wrapped in quilts or in sleeping bags wherever they landed.
We loved having our kids and their friends and always created a safe environment for them as best we could. Sometimes they would get a little rowdy with pent up energy and roughhouse a bit, but there was no drinking or smoking, only laughter and fun.
Even though they may be unaware, I keep tabs on the young people who played at our house. Of course, the girls didn’t sleep over except a time or two for church youth events. We kept the girls, and the Grajewski’s kept the boys or vice versa. Sometimes the girls would sneak over and roll the house. I remember one of them telling me later, “Miss Jan, I was standing right outside the window looking in at you, and you didn’t even see me!”
Little tidbits and funny stories come rushing unbidden when I run into the kids who hung out at our house. I usually keep their stories to myself, but my heart always smiles when those poignant memories flood my mind. When I see the successful men and women most of them have become it makes me proud and happy that Glen R. and I had a small part in encouraging them to choose to be men and women of character.