Using our senior center while black — Primal Scream


By John Lewis

Recently a group of old black guys was congregating at our Florence Douglas Senior Center. Fortunately our director Peter Wilson assessed the situation and observed that they were attracted to the pool table in the corner of the game room. Although there has been a pool table there for as long as anyone can remember, clearly it was now attracting an unwanted element. Peter sprang to action and, without any discussion or hesitation, he disposed of this nuisance.

In case these individuals didn’t get the message, (and they might have missed it since no one took the time to speak to them about it), Peter hired some armed security to hammer the point home. Well, these people must be dense because it is like six months later and they are still hanging around, wanting the pool table returned.

What must the good citizens and dues-paying members of the FDSC do to get these people to realize that we just would rather not have them around? So I took it upon myself to go ask them. I found a group of these old guys (did I mention that they were black?) and I went right up to them! I know what you;re thinking — I must be the bravest guy in Vallejo! I didn’t even bring an armed guard! Well, I talked to them about it and you are not going to believe this but I found them to be, I don’t know, polite, articulate, dare I say gentlemanly?

So here today I have a dream. I dream of a day — soon! — when the pool table is returned to the spot from which it was removed, and I, this old white guy, will be invited and learn to play pool with these men on that table. I have a dream that these guys welcome me and that even those old ladies who play bingo or bridge will give pool a try, and we will start tournaments for players old and young, skilled and nubies. In my dream there are so many people wanting to play that we will need more tables and maybe we will need to add a new wing to the center and we can name it for Dr Kay Flavell. I dream that Vallejo youth of all colors will come to these skilled players and learn not only a new skill but also what it means to be gentlemen. (And ladies.) And in my dream we all learn that when we have issues with others, that we can talk to each other and work it out, because if we don’t learn that, then there really isn’t any hope for us, is there?

Note: All opinions expressed in the “Primal Scream” column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin


'Using our senior center while black — Primal Scream' have 8 comments

  1. April 20, 2015 @ 11:34 pm Chris

    This situation never sounded quite right from the outset. It struck me at the beginning that this was overblown. But it was not clear that there was a ‘dues’ element to this–as in dues-paying members of the Center. If the notion of dues is involved, that spins this a bit, but the basic issue about playing pool should be worked out. Selling the pool table off to some buddy of the director or whatever is too much to accept–get it back and figure out a place for this to be done to everyone’s benefit.

    Reply

    • April 22, 2015 @ 8:35 am Paula

      Chris,
      Dues really has nothing to do with the pool table issue. The issue is that without talking to these guys about any perceived problem, Peter Wilson took a donated gift valued somewhere between $2-6,000 and “sold” it to a friend or acquaintance for $100. He then hired armed guards, presumably with senior center money, and that is what these guys found when they next arrived at the center. Mr. Wilson then refused to discuss the issue and in the ensuing months, people have discovered that the bylaws were not being followed, open meetings were not being held, and any hint of transparency in running the center was gone. It is simply wrong. Because of the uproar, he was then forced to buy the table back from whoever for $1700. Presumably, again, with senior center money although he apparently won’t open the books. And the table was not returned to the senior center, but given to a boys and girls club.

      There are so many things wrong with this at so many levels. The pool players were predominately, possibly completely, black. in the initial uproar, the reason given for the sale was that these guys were too loud and wouldn’t let anyone else play. Let’s say for the sake of argument that that is true. The next step then is to talk to them. They are human beings. They are sentient. They can talk and listen. But that was never done. No one said boo to them about any perceived problem(s). They left one night and came back the next day to armed guards. ARMED GUARDS. Think about that for a moment.

      Chris, you sound like someone who watches the news and keeps up with events. It’s hard to believe that race was not a factor, and quite likely the predominant factor, in this whole sorry episode. And instead of acknowledging the assholeness of the whole affair and doing what he can to set it right, Mr. Wilson has continued to crow about how it is over and done and people should just move on. Nothing to see here. I am guessing by this point in events, one element of resolution, in addition to returning the table to the senior center, is to remove Mr. Wilson. Of course, this is JMHO.

      (Disclaimer: I edited John’s letter prior to publication. Wife’s prerogative.)

      Reply

  2. April 22, 2015 @ 4:49 am John_K

    Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule!
    Oh, we’ve got trouble.
    We’re in terrible, terrible trouble.
    That game with the fifteen numbered balls is a devil’s tool!
    Oh yes we got trouble, trouble, trouble!
    With a “T”! Gotta rhyme it with “P”!
    And that stands for Pool!!!

    Music Man – Ya Got Trouble Lyrics
    http://tinyurl.com/ldvpwvl

    Reply

  3. April 22, 2015 @ 9:05 am Bong Hit

    Why don’t the dues paying members have a vote, YES or NO pool table?

    Reply

  4. April 22, 2015 @ 4:22 pm decentamerican

    Peter Wilson:

    While thanking you for the late FACTS presented to the citizens of Vallejo, can you also publish some or all of the evidence for 100% transparency ?

    Why do you really think so many people are upset? Can you get out of your box and admit wrong doing ? That may bring some healing — anything else is argument and counter argument….

    Reply

  5. April 27, 2015 @ 6:48 am Anon

    I am not a huge fan of the Wilsons. But I 100 percent totally support what Peter needed to do. The donated item was became an item of few guys who dominated and took over the senior center. If the few guys respected everyone else’s time at the center, then the table would have stayed. I have heard from other members who felt pushed out. Many old ladies felt harassed by these thugs, and the thugs didn’t care. So no need to whine and complain, issue should be closed. Thank you, Peter! You have guts for doing the right thing!

    Reply

  6. May 9, 2015 @ 12:57 pm Vallejo Needs

    I was thinking the other day Vallejo needs more race card.

    Reply

  7. May 10, 2015 @ 8:21 am ImtalkinHere

    Thugs? Senior citizens being referred to as thugs? Isn’t that code for something else?

    Reply


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