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More homage to the old pool room

Few other stories we've run has had as much interest as the one we ran on the old pool room coming down.A great comment was appended to the story today; it was a reminder that much more homage is due the passing of a structure which was so central to life in Columbia, and we hope others will contribute memories of their own.We hope more testimony will come in the form of appended comments, by email, by written letter, or by telephone.

By Ed Waggener

The hamburgers were the greatest, the price was right, and you got hot food with scarcely any wait.

It was true fast food. The hamburgers were fried, enveloped in soft buns, and the complete sandwiches were stored in a hot bun warmer. When a customer ordered, the food was never more than 20-30 seconds away.

Bob and Rich Wethington and later just Rich set big covered stainless steel dishes on the counter filled with toppings. One held chopped onions; the other coleslaw.

Either way, with onions and mustard or with slaw and a little mustard, the burgers were unmatched. I liked to wash them dwn with iced cold milk, then get additional energy with a Snickers bar. It was food fit for a millionaire, and the town's only reputed millionaires were frequent customers there.

As an eatery, the pool room deserved five stars.

But it was more.

The Wethingtons place was downright wholesome. After a trip to town, my parents would ask where I had been. If I answered, "The pool room," they'd interrogate further, asking, "Which one"? And if I answered "Bob's," it was okay. They had the highest respect for Bob and Richard Wethington.

Even if they would have objected, it wouldn't have done to lie about being in the pool room. The smoke was lighter in the Wethington Pool room, but the pungent smell of onions which clung to us after a visit there was a more reliable tracer than DNA.

It was a dangerous place only for one activity: Playing hooky from Lindsey chapel services. The pool room was the first place Dean Cunagin looked when attendance was low at the mandatory service. Lindsey boys, AWOL from Dr. Horton's messages, were to be found by the gaggles in pool room raids. It was a fun experience--being caught by David Cunagin--because he seemed to understand the relative values of the two incompatible endeavors a Lindsey boy was faced with at chapel time. In retirement, the pool room was one of Mr. Cunagin's favorite haunts.

He may have learned, as many of us already knew, that there was hardly any other communion quite so soul satisfying as was to be found at Bob and Rich Wethington's pool room.

The City of Columbia will be hard pressed to replace the structure with anything so institutionally worthy.

  • The old pool room coming down

  • This story was posted on 2004-12-04 17:13:15
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