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Billiards Games Appeal to Charlestown Residents

Charles Boyer waits for his students to arrive at the Charlestown retirement community billiards tables near the community’s Fireside Restaurant. That’s where the unofficial billiards instructor has been teaching his neighbors how to play pool for the last decade.  His enthusiasm for billiards is catching on at Charlestown, where there are now two resident-run Cue Clubs and where scores of spontaneous games played regularly.

For two hours once a week, Boyer teaches the fundamentals of pool—how to properly hold the cue, hit the ball, and aim, as well as the rules of the game.

Boyer began playing billiards at Catonsville Senior Center before he moved to Charlestown 18 years ago.  “I enjoy playing and would like to encourage more people to play,” he adds. “That’s why I teach—to get more people interested in the sport. Over the years, I’ve probably taught about 100 or so people.”

The lessons are free, and Boyer procures all of his protégés through word of mouth.

“There are always new people moving into the community,” said Boyer. “Many people just stop by when they see us playing, and I’ll invite them to join us.”

Many of his students are picking up the pool stick for the first time, or for the first time in years, and they welcome the pointers from more skilled players like Boyer.

“Most of the people that come to me for lessons are ladies,” said Boyer. “Many of whom haven’t had the opportunity to play in their lifetime.” But, he warns, “It’s not something you can become an expert at overnight. It takes a lot of practice. I can teach you the rules and show you the proper technique, but you have to put in the time practicing to really get good. Once you get the technique down, it’s just a matter of sticking with it.”

Boyer lives by his own rules, playing an average of five days a week with the Charlestown Square Cue Club.

“There is a group of us who get together every evening after dinner and play,” he said. “Years ago, we used to do a little friendly betting and play for a dime for each ball you sink, but now we play strictly for fun. We just enjoy each other’s company and have a good time.”

A women’s cue club—the Eightballer’s—plays on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Lifelong pool player Betty Clark leads this club.

“It’s the nicest bunch of women who play,” said Clark, who has been playing on and off for the last 30 years. “They never have a negative thing to say. They enjoy playing. They’re pleasant, and we just have fun together.”

Although Clark hasn’t personally taken any lessons from Boyer, she said she knows some of the ladies who do.

“I just think it’s wonderful that Charles does this out of the goodness of his heart. I think he wants to see others enjoy the game as much as he does,” said Clark. “It takes a lot of patience. Pool is one of those things that you just have to get in there and practice in order to get good at it. Some of the ladies I play with get discouraged from time to time if they aren’t doing well, but I tell them we all have bad days when we miss the ball. Why do you think it takes us so long just to play one game?”

“Some people like poker, some like bocce,” said Boyer. “I enjoy playing pool. It’s something I hope to be able to continue to do for a long time.”

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Caption for photo: The Eightballers play billiards at Charlestown.

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