When it comes to bringing back the good times for young people in McDuffie County, Tony Hedgecock and Nick Davis have stepped up to the table. The two men have re-opened an old pool hall on Main Street in Dearing, which they appropriately named Old Times.
"We mainly just wanted to give the teens in McDuffie County a place to go and something to do," Mr. Hedgecock said. "And people kept talking about our old pool hall."
Old Times is not the old-style joint with tables cornered with fringed leather pockets and pool sharks that have "Mad" or "Fats" for first names. Although the ambiance is all pool-hall with airbrushed murals and low-hanging lights, Mr. Davis said they wanted a place that is family-friendly, "where you can take your wife or child without worrying about what's going on."
Old Times has no cover charge, no alcohol, no smoking inside and no cussing. There will be a designated smoking area outside.
"You have to be respectful, especially if there's ladies and children in here," Mr. Hedgecock said. "And we'll make you pull your pants up if they're hanging way down."
And the rules will be enforced.
"Unfortunately in the South, there's a stigmatism about gambling and skirt-chasing that's associated with pool halls," Mr. Davis said. "It's about time people learn that's not the case anymore."
A parking rule was mandated by the Department of Transportation, and caused trouble when the pool hall was open about 10 years ago. No parking is allowed along Main Street in front of the establishment. Mr. Hedgecock said all vehicles must be parked along the sides, or in back, of the building.
The two men have been cleaning the building and making repairs since November. They opened unofficially last weekend, with a good turn-out from "word-of-mouth." The establishment boasts four tables, one with an exclusive Thomson Bulldog light, two video games and a juke box that "plays everything but opera," according to Mr. Hedgecock. Games are 75 cents each and chips, candy bars and sodas range 50 cents to $1.25. All ready to call his next shot, Mr. Hedgecock hopes to start a pool league as soon as the one he belongs to in Augusta is finished.
"Avid pool shooters looking for a clean, smoke-free place to go, well, we've got it," he said.
Old Times will be open from 6:30 p.m. until midnight, Monday through Wednesday and Friday, and from 4 p.m. "until whenever" on Saturday, and closed on Thursday and Sunday. Dearing resident Lynn Hawkins, who was shooting pool at Old Times last Monday evening, said the game room is not only good for young people, but "for people my age to have a place to go."It's the perfect place to hang out and shoot a few rounds of eight ball.
"I'm glad they did it," said James Weir, of Thomson. "Now we don't have to go to a bar to shoot pool. This is safer."