Every Friday, a faithful group of old friends get together to play pool at the Amalia Community Center. They are all from Amalia or Costilla, retired, and have known each other all their lives. They have a lot of fun and look forward to practicing their skills at the pool table every week from 1-3 pm.
The group used to meet for lunch next door at the Senior Center and play pool afterwards. The Senior Center, however, has since closed and the building has been condemned due to foundation issues. Last year the legislature approved funds to build a new Amalia Senior Center. In the meantime, seniors now get their lunches delivered to their homes through the local Meals on Wheels program — and now these old friends spend time socializing over a good game of pool.
Everyone has their story and the Friday pool players are no exception. Jimmy Maes, drove a QISD school bus for 27 years and has been delivering Meals on Wheels for the last three years. He also volunteered with the Amalia Fire Department for 27 years. Jimmy is one of the biggest jokesters of the bunch. One feature of the Friday group is that they laugh a lot, they keep each other in stitches.
Cipriano “Cippy” Salazar, spent years in Denver before returning to Costilla, working at the Rio Costilla Ski Valley before it closed and he retired from the Rio Costilla Southwest Learning Academy, which he described as the best school in the district. It was announced in August of 2019 that the school would be closed due to health and safety concerns. It was a big blow to the community.
Joe Duran graduated from Costilla High School the last year it was open, in 1965. I wonder if there will be a 60th class reunion in 2025?
The gentlemen agree that two of their Friday players win the most at pool. Chavelloo Guerrero used to win many pool tournaments back in the day: Arroyo Hondo, Questa, Cerro VFW, Garcia and Costilla. He said he doesn’t go to tournaments anymore. His friends say it’s because he is scared to go out at night (laughter!).
Retired educator Alfonso Gonzales is the other big pool winner. He first began teaching at age 19 at the Ventero one room schoolhouse with 23 students, grades 1-8. He went on to receive three degrees from Adams State College, a bachelors, two masters, plus one in counseling. He has been a teacher, principal and counselor at Questa High. When I told him I was with Questa Del Rio News, he asked if I knew Ellen Miller. I said, sure, Ellen Miller-Goins works with us at the paper. And he said, “When I taught English at Questa High, she was an excellent writer.” We know, we are quite proud of her work!