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One last time at Snookys
Snook Pack has final breakfast at the restaurant
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Snook Pack veterans Charlie Christmas, center, and Bobby White, right, chuckle as Frank Beacham talks about the effects of age. Lively conversation is one of the trademarks of the long-running daily get-togethers.

    If walls could talk, those adorned with decades-old Statesboro memorabilia at Snooky's Restaurant would have plenty to tell.
    Their abundance of stories thanks, in no small part, to a group of men who have met for coffee, juice and conversation every weekday for 52 years, 13 at the iconic eatery.
    Friday, that collection of loyal customers, a club that has come to be known as the “Snook Pack” for their unwavering patronage, were at it again — this time, for a Snooky’s breakfast to be their last.
    The Pack sat together amid a crowded dining room for a routine 10:30 a.m. meal, and bid farewell to their favorite restaurant, which closed its doors for good Saturday evening.
    The closing ended a more than decade-old relationship between Snooky’s and its “Pack” that left plenty of great memories, according to Tal Callaway, founder of the coffee club.
    “Snooky took a chance on us because everywhere else we went either burned down or closed up. He took a chance, and he lasted until we closed him up,” Callaway joked — Snooky was the nickname of Vivian Yawn, who co-founded the restaurant with his son Bruce Yawn. “Snooky’s (Restaurant) is known all over, and we are so sorry to see it closing. But we’re so happy for Bruce to be retired, able to rest and having fun.”
    Members of the Pack, whose ages range from the early 60s to mid-90s, say they’ll miss the place that has so long been called home. Whether talking politics, sports, rumors or just “treating each other with love,” as Lynn Batten, a member of the club, said, a good time was always had.
    “We have had a great deal of fun over the years. It has been great,” said Pat “Doc” Spurgeon, who according to Calloway now holds court over the meetings, replacing legendary Georgia Southern football coach Erk Russell.
    “When you get old, you come to a place where you say: ‘Do I really want to get up in the morning and go over there, or do I prefer not to?’ Well, there has been enough enjoyment in this process over the years that I’ve never reached a point where I said that I didn’t want to.”
    In regard to Snooky’s closing, Spurgeon referenced a signature call of the late Don Meredith — former professional football player and television broadcaster. Meredith would sing the famous Willie Nelson song "Turn out the Lights" when it appeared a game's outcome had been determined.
    “Turn out the lights. The party’s over,” Spurgeon said. “All good things must have an end. And it is too bad.”
    “I will miss (Snooky’s),” said Hugh Deal, who has been a member for several years. “This is the best place in town for breakfast. I was coming here everyday before I even joined the group.”

The Last Breakfast
    Despite the significance of the Pack’s final Snooky’s meeting, little mention of the event was given by its members.
    Instead, the group of friends did what they always do — share a few laughs.
    Frequent quips were made regarding just how long Callaway had been a member of the Snook Pack — some say he started in 1898, others believe it was the day after the Peace of Paris signing (1783).
    Callaway actually formed the conglomeration of gentlemen shortly after moving to Statesboro in 1959.
    The men also shared tales and occasionally slandered one another’s name — most of the good-natured name-calling was more fit for Coach Russell on a football field than in a newspaper.
    Another member noted the Snook Pack is the only club one can join and immediately become an honorary pallbearer; despite the fact that no one in the group can lift much of anything, someone said back.
    And when the time came, the group prepared to disband like it had hundreds of times before.
The Dice Game
    The Pack began a complex dice-rolling tournament that members created many years ago to determine what poor fellow would pick up the tab and tip.
    One after another the men took turns rattling six dice around in an old leather cup — used since the game’s inception — and spilling them out onto the table.
    Each recorded their result — whether a measly pair of ‘twos’ or unbeatable six ‘sixes.’
    Eventually, men were eliminated from the competition in the multi-round affair by virtue of their fortunate rolls.
    The competition continued until just two men remained.
    In a best-of-three rolls finale Jim Coon prevailed, which prompted a chorus of “Thank you Jim” calls from around the table.
    It was a result that should have given Coon pleasure, since it reserved his place in Snook Pack history books for being the final Snooky’s winner, Callaway jabbed.
    Though, Coon didn’t find the honor so illustrious.
    Then, the party ended.

Snooky’s at R.J.’s
    Now, with its stint at Snooky’s officially over, the Snook Pack will move on to its tenth meeting location since the group’s founding.
    Beginning Monday, the Pack will meet at RJ’s Steakery on South Main Street, where owner Randy Nessmith, an avid Snooky’s-fan himself, has decided to open his restaurant’s doors for breakfast.
    According to Callaway, the Snook Pack will continue its 53rd year as a group in what will be called “Snooky’s at R.J.’s.”
    A large majority of members say they will make the move next week to continue spending time with their beloved friends.
    “I just think that this is the best place to get good fellowship,” said Perk Robins. “I go to (R.J.’s Steakery) two or three times a week anyway. So I’ll go. The best thing is: (Nessmith) hired four waitresses and a lot of the kitchen-help from Snooky’s. So, it’ll be just like going to Snooky’s at R.J.’s.”
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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