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Pool club going strong after 75 years

It started out with twelve men getting together for food, fellowship and a game of pool and it continues today, some 75 years later. It was nicknamed the pool club and after over 900 consecutive monthly dinners it continues strong today.

The club was started by Leonard Turner and some of the original members were Sterling Gibson, Stacy Turner, Hodges Mobley and Dr. Weldon Neal. It is unclear who the other eight founding members were. Some of the other names through the years are recognizable as some of McDuffie County's prominent citizens; Joe Joesbury, Ed Wall, John Thomas, Lon Fleming, B.C 'Moon" Mullins, Forest Beckum, Dr. Tom Neal, John Moore, Walt Bullwinkle, Ben Howell, Sr., Jack Baston, Bruce Blasingame and Mike Joesbury are just a few of the past members.

Current members include Dr. Joe Wills, Dr. Tommy Neal, Jr., Rusty Lovelace, Jerry Wright, Howell Roberts, Bill Beckum, Ben Blasingame, George Lokey, Bob Wilson, Jr., Bud Lunceford, Ben Howell, Jr. and Stacy Turner.

"Right behind the library was my grandparent's house and there was a little outbuilding with a pool table in it. In the summertime they would open the doors and get a breeze and in the winter they had a big fireplace. They would eat and at 9:30 it was over," said Stacy Turner.

Back in the 50s and 60s the group was known to take fishing trips to Florida, usually clad in their shirts and ties.

"You know, if I was to go fishing with my shirt and tie on my wife would be suspicious," said Roberts.

"Stacy's daddy used to take his Turner Furniture signs with him for tax purposes. He'd nail one on a tree wherever he went so he could write it off," joked Dr. Wills.

"I'm told that Charlie Lewis found a sign down in Florida that Daddy had put up," said Turner.

Membership to the club is exclusive and is limited to 12 to accommodate one dinner each month. In order to be invited, a current member has to pass away, move or otherwise be unable attend. Many current members are second generation.

The average age of the members has significantly dropped in the last 10-15 years and while it is still referred to as the "pool club" it is not centered around the game as it once was.

"When I joined in 1998 the average age was about 84. When I hosted my first dinner I invited them upstairs for a game and only about 3-4 could make it up the steps," said Dr. Wills.

All of the current members are native McDuffie Countians with the exception of Howell Roberts and the longest active member is Jerry Wright who joined in the mid-90s.

Most of the time is spent reminiscing about old days gone by, a time when life was a bit slower. On this pleasant evening in late May, it is a group of good friends, enjoying each others company. And it ended promptly at 9:30. It's hard to mess with tradition.

Web posted on Thursday, July 29, 2010

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