Around the time the sun goes down, the Calcutta begins. One by one, Pastimes Pool Room owner Kevin Parsons takes bets placed on the players participating in tonight's tournament.
"Thirty-five on Tony, can I get 40? 45?" he asks. Would-be bettors raise their hands to be counted, and money is anted up as the sounds of AC/DC and colliding pool balls fill the room.
Before long, the practicing ends and the tournament begins. Players of varying levels face off over rounds of 9-ball, tallying their scores with a quick movement of white and orange balls along the game counter hanging above. Groans of defeat are heard, hands are shaken, and smiles are exchanged from one table to the next, lasting late into the night.
Kevin and his wife, Joy Rodriguez, purchased the pool hall from its previous owners in 2021. They are a steady presence at Pastimes, mingling among friends and jumping behind the bar to lend a hand whenever needed.
The pool room’s history stretches back to at least the 1950s when it was one of five pool halls in downtown Paris. For Kevin, born and raised in Paris, the pool room has always been a presence. Purchasing it was a chance to keep the longstanding space and the good times it provides going for the community, he says.
“We play some pool, a little music, dance a little bit, drink a little bit,” Kevin says. “For me, it's the community.”
Pastimes regularly holds events in its space. Thursday is Ladies Night, where women play for free, and musical guests perform on Fridays. Holiday-themed parties are also featured. The Halloween event, for example, includes karaoke and a costume contest.
Many regulars are there every night, some playing pool while others sit at the adjacent tables chatting over cans of Mountain Dew and bottles of Ale-8-One. “Obviously, as you can see, everyone’s family here,” says MaryAnn Elkins after a long exchange of teasing with another Pastime regular.
It’s the game that makes the people come, but the company and sense of belonging keep them coming back. It shows itself in the warm familiarity present among Pastime’s regulars, who sing along to songs over the jukebox or dance alongside the many frames lining the wall – photos of strangers who have become regulars, regulars who have become friends, and friends who have become family.