Well, here we are in late November. Thanksgiving was family time and the start of the end of any dieting plans I'd hoped to make. Black Friday was yesterday, and if you battled the low temps and found exactly what you needed (or just wanted) I'm happy for you. I, however, spent the morning enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and reading the multitudinous ads in the Shawnee News-Star. None of which changed my mind about not going shopping this weekend. But enough about that!

Well, here we are in late November. Thanksgiving was family time and the start of the end of any dieting plans I’d hoped to make. Black Friday was yesterday, and if you battled the low temps and found exactly what you needed (or just wanted) I’m happy for you. I, however, spent the morning enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and reading the multitudinous ads in the Shawnee News-Star. None of which changed my mind about not going shopping this weekend. But enough about that!

There hasn’t been a senior center citizen personality column in quite some time so, after checking with our Cruise Director Kate Joyce, she picked a long time person for me to chat with for a while. If you don’t already know him, he is a gentleman who has been around the center since 2000 and still comes every day. Now that’s determination.

Our focus today is on Mr. Bill Jones. He was born in McLoud, the 12th child in a blended family that grew to 15. His family had a farm, and during summers he would go with his dad and sell veggies “door to door” to the “city people” in Shawnee. He has some stories about those times that are too long to tell about here, so you should ask him about them.

He worked his way through Bethel School System until the eighth grade, when he decided he’d had enough education and wanted to get a job. Which he did! His brother and sister-in-law had a restaurant in Shawnee on Beard Street and gave him a job as a dishwasher. And there he stayed until another family member told him about a job in Great Bend, Kansas, that he could have with Seismograph Service Corporation out of Tulsa. Bill worked attaching “jogs” (didn’t have the sense to ask what they were so I can’t explain) to cable lines until he decided it was time to return to Shawnee.

He had a brother and sister-in-law in Alaska and when they came back to Oklahoma in 1955 for Christmas they convinced Bill to go back with them to Alaska. Bill went and spent until October of 1956 working in Alaska and living in a rooming house there but, as he put it, it was cold there and he wanted to go back home to Oklahoma. And in October he had his first airplane ride when he flew back home.

There he started his “driving for others” career. A Shawnee hotel owner needed a driver for trips out of state as well as out of town and Bill was the guy. Since driving had taken Bill to places that he’d not seen before he decided he wanted to see California. He teamed up with a family on their way to California and somehow ended up in El Paso.

He was in a bit of trouble and his lawyer found a way to get him out of jail by volunteering him into the Army. It was a pretty good deal, and so our Bill Jones was on his way to Ft Carson, Colorado, where he went through eight weeks of basic training and was then shipped to San Antonio, Texas, where he had eight weeks of training to become a medic. In early 1958 he was on a ship headed to Korea. When he got there he was put in charge of the 43rd Surgical MASH Hospital Laundry facility which had 13 civilian Korean employees. When the system became unusable Bill, was transferred to a hospital in Seoul where he worked in the office and drove the ambulance.

In 1960 his time was up and he was shipped back to the one place he really wanted to go, California. But as sometimes happens, reality did not live up to expectations and Bill headed back once again to Shawnee. There he met and married Joyce Henderson and had three children (two girls, one boy) and then moved to Oklahoma City. Unfortunately his marriage ended in 1969 and he ended up back in Shawnee.

Bill worked at flea markets, direct sales shows and found he liked buying, selling and trading in the business world. He also found he was really good at repairing antiques and fixing “broken” objects that were reminders of past times to people who cherished old memories. He is a collector of cool old implements, tools, bikes, oil cans and more. Bill also makes sturdy walking sticks (otherwise known as canes) out of twisted wood and sets them off with cool handles and tiny cowboy boots on the tips.

He also likes to personalize bolo ties for himself and anyone else who would like one.

Bill still does those things but in 2000, Bill found the Shawnee Senior Center. He and a lady friend heard about the dances at the center and were there every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. (I can truthfully say that the band at that time was same five-piece Story Time Band that still plays country and western music twice a week at the center.) Besides dancing at the center those two days, he also could be found dancing out at the South Side Community Center on Park Street on Wednesdays.

But as often happens, things changed in 2003. Bill found the “Pool Room”! Yep, learning that the center had a pool room was the changing moment in Bill’s life. Apparently dancing was fun but shooting pool was just a little bit better. You can usually find him in the “pool room” just about any day unless there’s a show going on somewhere and he has to check it out.

If you ask him about the center, Bill (who is a sprightly 83 years young) will tell you it’s a “good place to come,” where he can “read the newspaper” and where he can have lunch occasionally.

I can tell you he’s not really an “ornery old guy” (though he tries hard to make everyone believe that) because he makes me smile every time he visits the center. Come see for yourself.

At 8:35 on Wednesday morning our Cruise Director Kate Joyce will be verbally engaged with Mike Askins of “Mike in the Morning” on KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 or AM 1450). They always have new information on the “goings on” at the Shawnee Senior Center and the wealth of things you can participate in on any given day. Check it out and let us know what you think.

And remember at the Shawnee Senior Center “age is just a number,” our website is ShawneeSeniors.org, and our Facebook page is “Shawnee Senior Center.” There’s always a calendar waiting for you to pick it up on the front desk with the month’s activities on one side and the menu for the month on the other. Drop in and check it out for yourself!

And, as always, see you at the center!