Gero-Punk Tribute: Carl’s Legacy

 Sydney Melnick's profile photo

 By guest Gero-Punk

Sydney Melnick

Here goes my first attempt at blogging:

I’m Sydney, a student at Marylhurst University very close to graduating. Finally feeling like I’m just about there has elicited some reflection on what I’m doing with my life. I was recently asked in a class as a discussion question what the point of life is. While I’d been asked this many times in various contexts, I’ve always dismissed it as such an unanswerable question that it was actually comical. 

Then I figured it out for me. It registered. It’s all about what you leave behind. Of course my answer could change. I’m not going to pretend that I have any more experience with aging than I do, but I’ve got a good 26-year start. And I’ve recently had an experience with legacy that’s worth sharing.

I play pool. Lots of pool. I mean I go to the pool hall at 7am. Then sometimes I go back to the pool hall later in the afternoon. The game grew on me. I took serious interest around the time I was 19 years old, when I decided to purchase my own cue. I was intrigued by the strategy, focus and technique required. Most importantly I felt relief from the constant buzzing in my head about school, work, family, deadlines and more.

In the beginning it was strictly about making personal progress as a pool player. I hadn’t experienced the community…yet. Then one summer on a whim I moved to Austin, Texas. I’m a member of a support group and I wanted to attend a meeting. I brought my cue into the meeting, worried it would get stolen from the parking lot. Unless they play pool, most people don’t recognize a cue case. However, someone from the meeting noticed and after chatting for a while he invited me to be on his team. A couple of weeks later I really started to feel a part of the team, a part of a community and even more rooted in Austin itself.

Although I’ve returned to Portland, I’ve kept up on my game. After playing on a couple teams here I’ve settled into a small straight pool league, about 25-30 people. Straight pool is not as well known as most other games. In other words I play with people I endearingly call the “pool nerds.” After being in such a small league for an extended amount of time I started to really know everyone. It should be noted that I am by far the worst player in the league but I’ve also been playing for fewer decades than a lot of my teammates.

Besides destroying me in pool, these guys take care of me. Last session, they anonymously donated $20 towards my dues. They make sure I’ve eaten and am sufficiently caffeinated. They give me rides when I am running late. I’m not even kidding when I say that this one guy gave me a spare jacket when it started raining. They’re just about literally giving me the shirt off their backs.

Recently we lost a member of the league and we are all deeply saddened.

A few weeks ago my pool cue was stolen. I was careless and forgot to lock it in the cue locker like I usually do. I even had a dream that night that I had forgotten to lock up my cue and by the time I went back to the pool hall it was gone. It was a financial loss (pool cues are expensive) but, more importantly, I was surprisingly emotionally attached to it. My cue had been with me through a lot.

About a week and a half later the head of the league emailed me asking if I was going to be at the pool hall that morning. I was not but I told him I would most likely be there the next day, but early, probably leaving by ten at the latest. I inquired about why he was asking but he didn’t respond. The next day he showed up at 9:30 a.m. carrying an unfamiliar case. It was revealed that he had bought our former member’s cue (the one who had recently died) to give to me. Then it was revealed that someone else had offered to split the cost with him. Then it was revealed that someone else had too, and then finally the whole league decided to pitch in to give it to me.

Every time I tell this story I almost cry. I’ve also been warning all my opponents that my cue has 40+ years of good karma in it handed down to me so they better watch out.


 I am a soon-to-be graduate of Marylhurst University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Music. I’ve completed a certificate in Professional Music at Portland Community College. Currently I am an assistant teacher for Vermont Hills Family Life Center, as well as preparing for a position as an intern in a day treatment center for elementary school aged kids at Lifeworks Northwest. I’m from Portland, Oregon and currently live there.


About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past twenty (or more!) years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s