Around the Hayti community, Imperial Barber Shop is the heart of the community. The shop provides the community with a sense of empowerment and a safe gateway. The barbershop also offers the Bill City Pool Checkers Club, an organization created for senior citizens, and now they have reached out to their community and want more youth to join the game.
The Bull City Pool Checkers team was started more than 30 years ago. Imperial Barber Shop owner Robert Thomas felt that it was a way to keep the community unified and to give senior citizens a past-time to engage in during the week.
“To join our group, there is no age limit, however we want people that want play and have a good time,” said the team’s treasurer, Lynwood Tharrington. “Most of the older players have passed on, and we want to have a legacy for this community.”
Most of the team says that Pool Checkers is a logic thinking type of game. It is a combination of pool and checkers. The concept was derived from the African-American slaves and was exposed to the Spanish and French and was brought to the Americas.
“We are willing to teach anyone that is committed and ready to develop logical thinking of this game,” said Tharrington.
The team believes that if more youth would participate in the group that it would eliminate much of the social issues that they face.
The Bull City Pool Checkers team has won numerous awards and is part of the American Pool Checker Association, they are highly respected and experienced players.
For 15 years, George Evans, the Bull City Pool Checkers gold-bar, enjoys playing the game and traveling with the team because he says it makes him feel good to be part of a team that is family.
“It is a past-time for me,” said Evans. “I am retired and do not have much to do. So I come to the barbershop, get good conversation and play a game that love.”
Most team members are skilled players. Some have competed all over the United States and in Russia and other countries.
“We have fun,” said Ernest “Lash” Lipson. “It takes a lot of time and patience. If you are willing and want to be good, you have to learn from the best.”
Victor Hughes, the manager of Imperial Barber Shop, believes that the team and the barbershop is a way for the community to learn from one another . The shop is a place for youth to learn leadership and receive guidance from the elderly.
Hughes said that the barbershop is the brick and foundation of the community. The shop welcomes all age groups, genders, and anyone that wants to better themselves in the community.
“Imperial and the Bull City Pool Checkers team is a community service that strives to help their community,” said Hughes. “We help those truly in need. We have helped with rent, children that get school supplies, we provide them, clothing and even paid bills. We do not do this for show but for the community and for change.”
“I was 7 years old, when I began going to Imperial Barbershop,” said Dontay Coward. “As a child and up till my teens, I watched everyone in the shop, their leaders. Vic, welcomes anyone that he feels is going do right. The Bull City Pool Checkers team is the best around. It gets competitive but it’s all love.”