by RORY McGLASSON
South Philadelphia senior Joe Mastropoalo takes a lot of vitamin C. It helps him see the balls on the billiards table.
Joe, 100, played a special game of pool this week against his brother, Anthony.
It was Joe’s 100th-birthday party.
South Philadelphia’s latest centenarian, Mastropoalo of 10th & Wolf Streets, was hosted a surprise party at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, 1401 E. Passyunk Avenue.
Mastropoalo says the secret to health and wellness is simple: Stay positive, keep active, and dance.
“I haven’t been coming to the senior center too much lately because I have been looking after my ill brother,” he said. “I thought I was coming here to arrange a pool game.”
Joe’s the coordinator for the seniors’ inter-city pool league. They play twice weekly. He is quite the billiards player.
After receiving a rousing welcome “Surprise” at the senior center recreation center from around 80 birthday well-wishers, Mastropaolo wasted no time showing off his skills on the pool table.
He went in the recreation room where there are two billiard tables, chalk, an array of cues, and eight balls.
Pot after pot, Joe dispatches the balls into the pockets with precision and effortless ease. He moves around the table like someone many decades younger.
No wonder. He plays pool two hours each day. He also walks. He lifts weights; he stays active.
Joe Mastropaolo was born on Jan. 6, 1913 at 8th & Mountain Streets. He lived in a household of eight, with five other siblings; three brothers and two sisters. His brother Anthony, 94, is the only other living member of his household.
Joe attended Southwark Grammar school. He quit school in 8th grade.
He started a career as a tailor. He would spend the 40 years cutting his cloth as a tailor for many companies.
Joe married his childhood sweetheart Minnie. They had one daughter, Rita. The Mastropaolos moved to South Florida, but returned to South Philadelphia in 1958.
Joe and Minnie would have been married 50 years in 1988. Unfortunately, Minnie passed weeks before their Golden Jubilee. She was 72.
Joe has two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
He has never smoked a cigarette or sipped an ounce of alcohol, he said.
An avid weightlifter throughout his life, Joe said he had to add a little muscle to his 5-ft. 5-in. frame so he could look after himself.
“He’s the strongest guy I have ever known,” said Joe Loddo, of 8th & Watkins.
Loddo, 93, helped organize the surprise party at the senior center last week.
Joe, who once starred with his brother Anthony in the local band “Chick Rays and the Arcadias”, loves to dance. And the women love to dance with Joe, according to his daughter, Rita Ferrara.
Joe says the spring in his step comes from a lot of things, but he believes in vitamins.
Before dispatching the black ball to defeat his brother at pool, Joe said, “I’ve been taking vitamins before vitamins were vitamins.”