Another Day ‘Down By The Riverside’
(Editor’s Note: LeMoyne Coffield wrote this for the Magnolia High School Alumni Web site in 2006. Since he passed away on Feb. 10, we thought it would be fitting to share his tribute to the “Lunch Bunch”, of which many members are now missing from their table at Quinet’s Court Restaurant.)
As usual, I awaken every morning, as I have for the past 82 years. I am always grateful and feel blessed.
Things don’t change much anymore except the weather. The constants are, I awaken each morn, I go to the Court for lunch, and the Ohio is flowing south.
I bathe and put on some “foo-foo water” so I will smell good to Wayne (McCaskey). He doesn’t care what you look like but likes you to smell good.
The bright part of the day is joining the “Lunch Bunch” at the Court with Jimmy (Quinet) and his wonderful staff. We are lifetime card carrying members of this group. Knowing that we are on a fixed income, Jimmy gives us a break and only charges us $5 for the whole spread.
At about 11:30 a.m. I drive to the Court for lunch, in rain, sleet, ice, or snow. I rarely get there before Wells. He has already been to the office, answered his junk mail, drives to the Post Office to pick up a 37-cent (now 39) stamp, mail his letter, and parks near the front door. His walk works up a good appetite and he hits the buffet line on arrival. That is the first of his five-course lunch.
The rest of the guys begin showing up. Some bright eyed and others limping/groaning/moaning about their gas bill, electric bill, and the cost of drugs. For the most part they are smiling and always showing up with a ravishing appetite. Sometimes Wayne is a little persnickety about what he eats. He does like vegetable soup without vegetables, but only if it is “Hotter ‘n Hell”; also, he has a likin’ for ham loaf, and Coke float with the ice cream on the bottom.
Starting and going clockwise, we have Bill Talkington who is the smartest and the straightest shooter of the crowd. Bill shoots from the hip and says what he thinks. Bill doesn’t listen to us but sure does to Beulah. She has taken him off wheat and frequently has a sandwich, with no bread. Beulah hasn’t restricted his ice cream yet, but Jimmy is considering it.
Wells occupies the seat next to Bill and is always a joy to break bread with. He does have a hearty appetite and as Grandma Wells told him, always clean up your plate. Wells keeps us informed on what is going on at GNMDC and brings us up to date on the morning paper. Sometimes he even reads it to us. He has a vantage spot and announces everyone coming and going. He has a good view of the Menu Board and lets us know what the “Specials” are. He usually has a large special, soup, extra side dishes, and an overflowing pie a la mode. He often complains about Jane’s food and is considering getting her a new cookbook.
Next is Bryan, “Good Old Mr. Wilson”, and always warm hearted but keeps his cold hands wrapped around his hot coffee cup. He always has a project for the “Parlor City”. Presently, he is working on the Riverfront Development and Fort Martin. When he takes a napkin and starts writing or diagramming something, we listen, we know it’s important.
Wayne is next and keeps his eyes open for pretty girls. Sometimes I have to point them out to him but he claims he smelled them when they came in the back door. One Friday a month he meets with Pott’o (Joel Potts II) in the back with their MHS Class of 1935.
Jim Fitz(simmons) sits across the table and keeps Wayne under control. Jim and Bryan have deservedly been recognized as “Citizens of the Year” of our fair city. They have always been civic minded, have worked tirelessly, and still are. He runs the “Helping Hand”, also, the driving force at the “Museum”. Often, he has to cut lunch short to open the museum.
Herb (Rothlisberger) is next, a retired druggist, he’s noted for not hearing well. He pulls his chair up to the table, puts his elbows on the table, and adjusts his hearing aid; he completely blocks sound and sight to my right. I have tried to correct him but he can’t hear. On Wednesdays he joins Bryan, Dave Harman, and other Rotarians in the back room. He also leaves us to be with Harold (Zohnd) and his MHS Class once a month.
Mary Louise (Loehr) comes in on occasions and often brings desert. We appreciate that but don’t like her Bush bashing. She didn’t win, place, or show in the pretty baby picture contest up at Kent. As you all know, I was the “Blue Ribbon Baby”.
Fred Wilcox is pretty regular when not on the job. That’s pretty often since he works for the state.
John Hoover has joined the regulars, a younger guy and student at WVNCC. He learns more at lunch than he does in the classroom.
We have lost old friends in Tommy Blum, Gene Berger, and Jake Forbes. We pray that they are in a more peaceful place, God bless them.
Thanks to Jimmy’s crew for making this the high point of our day.