Junction City kids have something to do this summer - shoot pool

June 01, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Mischief is easy for kids to find here during long afternoons when the weather is warm and there is nothing to do but cruise the streets on bikes.

Quarter Slots gives them another option - pool.

Johnny Cummins, 12, honestly says that before the arcade on Old U.S. 127 opened six weeks ago he spent his afternoons getting in trouble.

Now Debbie Hooker and Ricky Tee keep a close eye on Cummins and his friends as they improve their games.

The business has been open for six weeks and already Hooker is looking to expand. Three pool tables have already cramped the tiny space. They got a taste of what summer holds during spring break. They opened at 11 a.m. and by 11:03 the game room was packed.

During the day, adults eat at the nearby restaurant and wander over for a game of pool or a shot at slot machines that trade wins for tickets that can be exchanged for prizes, like sunglasses.


In the afternoon the kids rule the roost, and Hooker and Tee rule the kids.

"We aren't a daycare," Hooker said.

But, the kids have to follow the rules or face being booted out. It holds true even for Hooker's daughter. When she talked back to Tee during a recent afternoon she was asked to leave, just as sure as anyone else there would have been.

"They have to follow our rules, and they know that," she said.

What are the rules?

What are the rules? No fighting. No rowdiness. No alcohol. No drugs. No cursing.

It could be Junction City's version of Arnold's of "Happy Days" fame.

"We have clean fun," Hooker said.

She said that since she moved to the city she had been entertaining kids in her backyard, kids that didn't have anything else to do.

"The children in Junction had nothing to do, and I knew that they weren't going on vacation, so if we didn't find something to do they would all end up in my backyard."

The business started slowly, and then word spread and Tee said business gets bigger every week.

Pool games are 50 cents each and players usually split the cost, each putting up a quarter.

Tournaments held Tuesday and Thursday

There are 8-ball tournaments on Thursdays and 9-ball tournaments on Tuesdays for the juniors, ages 11-16. Trophies are given each week to the winners. Hooker said the statuettes motivate the players.

Everybody's out by 10 p.m., so that they can make curfew.

Adult tournaments are held at 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Chris Thomas, 14, said that he comes to practice his pool game, but he also seems to enjoy talking trash to his friends and hanging out.

"This is what Junction needed because it was boring," he said.

His friend, Jarod Douglas, 13, agreed.

"There wasn't nothing to do."

The group doesn't always have the cleanest language, but they joke with each other carefully under Tee's watchful eye.

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