MPW.70 / 2018 The Mark of a Good Man by Vikesh Kapoor
Photographer
Vikesh Kapoor
Team Cox

Story Summary

Gene Young is a pool shark, a poet, an insurance man and a mailman. He says, “I’ve walked 170,000 miles and never got out of this town.” Young grew up in Mountain Grove, MO and is central to this community. And oh yeah, he’s 94 years old.

Each day, Gene drives in his Ford pickup truck to the Senior Center, where he’s one of the oldest members. After eating an early lunch, he battles his buddies at billiards for 4 hours a day. He says, “I leave my feelings at home, that way I don’t get hurt.” With his infectious good ole’ boy humor and his pool hall skill, Gene doesn’t have to worry about hurt feelings. He usually beats the other men at pool. They end the day by drinking Pepsi late into the afternoon.

He spends most early evenings eating dinner at McDonalds with other retired men and women from the surrounding community, near a table where one of his poems has hung for 3 years.

After his house in Mountain Grove burned down, Gene moved into the backroom of his old insurance office, where file folders, trophies, and relics from the past are strewn about. He was married for 60 years before his wife passed away in 2007. His companion, Marilyn, who he has known for over 10 years, says, “Gene is the mark of a good man.”