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Tom Grace

December 16, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: Sharing wealth could help

COLUMBUS _ We filed into the brightly lit school lobby on a chilly Saturday night, and the rush of warm air felt good on my hands and face. The sounds of bouncing balls, heavy feet and dozens of voices echoed through the building.

A knot of people gathered before the gatekeeper, an old woman at a student’s desk, selling tickets. They moved on, then we stepped up. She had a pile of programs, a little strongbox on the desk and a handmade sign that read: ``Children under 12, $1; Adults, $2; Senior Citizens, $1.’’ ``How old is a senior citizen?’’ Uncle Chet asked.

``Oh, I don’t know.’’ She looked at him in mild surprise. ``At least 60, I guess.’’

``Then we’re in luck.’’ He handed her a $10 bill. “I’m 69, those two are 60 and he’s well under 12. How old are you, Buddy?’’

``Eight,’’ the boy said. ``There. Four half-priced admissions and only one full-fledged adult, his mother, with us,’’ Uncle Chet said.

The woman looked at Alice and me dubiously, and Alice said, ``I don’t mind paying full price.’’

``But she really is 60,’’ Uncle Chet said and took the $4 in change. We murmured thank-you and continued on.

``Well, that was embarrassing,’’ Alice confided as we hiked the tiled stairs. ``You told all the world I’m not an adult anymore.’’ ``Just looking after our business interests,’’ he said.

``I don’t feel like I’m past it,’’ she said.

``You’re retired, aren’t you?’’ he said as we sidled past the food stand and entered a spacious gymnasium. ``Well, I’m not,’’ I said.

``You never were an adult,’’ he said. The music was thumping, and the players were going through their layup drills. We sat in the front row, took off our coats. Hon got out her camera and checked the light.

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Tom Grace

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