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Sharing coffee and life for 52 years
Alice Chastain of Snooky's takes drink orders as guests take their place at Hodges-Yawn Pondhouse where the Snooky's 10:30 Coffee Club held their annual Holiday Celebration.

What do a group of men who’ve met five days a week for coffee for 52 years find to talk about? “Politics, football, golf, and as Perk would say, ‘rumors,’ ” says Tal Callaway, founder of Snooky’s 10:30 Coffee Club.
    As the name implies, 12 to 15 men meet regularly at Snooky’s restaurant to drink coffee or juice and swap stories.
    Recently, the men traded locations and brought along their wives for drinks, dinner and dancing at their Holiday Celebration, held annually at the Hodges-Yawn Pondhouse.
    With drinks slightly stronger than coffee in hand, club members milled about on the dock during the social hour. Though the night was young, the participants were not quite. Ranging in age from early 60s to late 70s, with some club members not in attendance topping 80 and mid-90s, the men imbibed just a little and embellished quite a bit.
    “We tell a lot of lies and an occasional joke,” says Joe McGlamery, 40-year-veteran of the club.
    “Our eyesight is not what it used to be, and we don’t hear as well, but we still have fun,” says Frank Parker.
    With steaks prepared to perfection, couples moved inside to dine. Some had to be called more than once; some ambled slower than others.
    When desserts disappeared, Tal stood to begin the program, donning glasses atop the bridge of his nose, announcing, “Hush up, Ed.” Ed Wynn hushed.
    Someone asked, “Joe’s not going to read the rules again, is he?”
    Ignoring the comment, Tal continued. “I’d like to thank Roy Kilpatrick for forgetting the boom box.” He thanked a few others, pointed out that the date for the party was changed because of a colonoscopy — “She’s got pictures,” he added, then told a story about Cialis.
    Jack Mallard leaned over to his wife and said, “We paid $40 to hear this.”
    Tal asked Roy for a joke. He told one, though no one laughed. He explained, “It’s the same jokes every time, but at our age, we don’t remember them.”
    Another member was called on to sing a verse. “Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in ev-er-y way,” he crooned.
    When the club thanked Bruce Yawn, owner of Snooky’s restaurant, member of the club and chief cook for the night, with a round of applause, Bruce was given the floor for a comment. He shared, “A while back, someone asked me if I give senior citizens discounts. I said, ‘No. They’re slow; they drop food and they get in the way.' I’m sorry I said that, because now, this is the only kind of group I can keep up with. ”
    With a few more jokes that aren’t printable for a Sunday paper, the night evolved into a dance contest. First contestants — Johnny and Patricia Parrish, moving to ‘Johnny Be Good.’ And he was. And so was she.
    “We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary,” Patricia proudly said. “He’s the only one I’ve ever loved, and he tells me the same thing. He’s one of the young guys here.”
    A few others danced; some left early, stating, “This makes me tired just watching,” and “It’s way past our bedtime.”
    Tal culminated the evening with a prize for one of the dance couples, and said, “'Hawaii 5-O' starts at 10. I promised you I was going to get you home in time.”
    Yet even with the night lasting longer than most attendees’ bedtime, the majority of the group arrived at 10:30 Coffee Time the next day, right on schedule. A few had coffee, most had orange juice, poured by Alice Chastain, waitress at Snooky’s and the only accepted female member of the club.
    “This is a fun group,” says Alice, who has served the rambunctious crowd for years. “Sometimes it gets rowdy and loud. Dice go on the floor. Coffee cups go on the floor.”
    The dice she spoke of determine who pays the bill. In a complicated process of elimination, the men begin rolling shortly after Alice finishes pouring.
    Karen Lavender, wife of club member and former head of the math department at GSU, Earl Lavender, said during the Holiday Celebration, “It takes a mathematician to figure out how they do this.”
    Hugh Deal responded, “I don’t think even Earl and Charlie can figure it out.”
    Retired mathematician Charlie Christmas used upper-level math to remember just how long he’d been a member of the club, “Well, let’s see. Earl and I used to ride in that Honda of mine; it was a '70, so probably since 1975.”
    Tal explained the dice game further: “It’s double elimination. We roll first to see who pays the bill. Then we roll again to pay for the tip. Those two go ‘head to head’ to pay for the whole bill. It’s a privilege to take care of our friends.” With a chuckle, he added that some people enjoy that privilege more than others.
    Speaking with
anonymity, several group members stated their love for seeing Tal lose. “It might be the highlight of my week,” one whispered.
    And with that comment, the dice, placed in a leather cup that dates back to 1946 from the Forest Heights Country Club, began rolling, with Pat Spurgeon in charge of who’s in and who’s out at the end of each round. 
    “Three deuces.”
    “What’d you have, Hugh?”
    “You still in?”
    “I’m gone rearrange the dice.”
    In a whisper, “His hand shakes some, so he gets a better roll every time.”
    “Jack’s finger’s almost as crooked as mine.”
    And another whisper: “I don’t like him. He’s a Clemson graduate.”
    “I’m rolling left-handed this time…there it is, a pair of 6’s.”
    “One, two, three, four. There’s four hearing aids today. Yesterday, there were eight.”
    Using his thumb and forefinger, Jack Mallard pinched each gray eyebrow into a furrow and said, “I always get serious when I roll.” And it worked — he was eliminated that round from the honor of paying the bill, $19.50, tip included. The payee got off easy — Joe McGlamery holds the record of being the host, with a whopping $36.00 for coffee.
    The ribbing and conversation continued, while some left and a few ordered breakfast. “Thirty minutes,” said Tal. “We’re out by 11.”
    Tal Callaway formed this conglomeration of distinguished gentlemen shortly after moving to Statesboro in 1959. When Ed Olliff helped him find a place to live, Tal told him, “You’re my kind of people, Ed. Do you go to coffee?”
    And with that, the two began meeting on October 5, 1959 at Franklin’s Rexall Drug Store at the soda fountain. Dub Lovett joined shortly after, but was allowed only 15 minutes for his break. He often slipped away quietly and paid for the other men’s coffee.
    Tal said, “We can’t have that, Dub,” and the men began to match coins to see who would pay. Over time, the group, originally called the 10:30 Uptown Coffee Club, changed locations to Ellis’s Drug Store, Snooky’s uptown, Bunny’s Restaurant, Webb’s Nic Nac, Vandy’s on Vine, Vandy’s on Main, Boyd’s, and, finally, its current location.
    Fifty-two years with many of the same comrades — that’s longer than most marriages or restaurants last. Longer than some newspapers last. And way longer than politicians or athletes last.
    But whatever the current event of the day is, you can bet it will be shared, Monday through Friday, except holidays, 10:30, at Snooky’s, over dice and coffee.  

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