The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 10, 2013

Elks’ game room features pool table with long history

JOPLIN, Mo. — It once was part of the pool hall of a restaurant near downtown Joplin. Later it spent four decades in the possession of a local enthusiast. Most recently, it survived an EF-5 tornado.

The Brunswick Kling pool table certainly has a storied past. It is now set to enter its second century as one of two pool tables in the game room at the newly rebuilt Joplin Elks Lodge 501.

“We decided it would probably get a lot more use out at the Elks Lodge than we have given it the past few years,” said Joplin resident Randy Stanley, the table’s previous owner.

Stanley bought the pool table, which was manufactured sometime between 1913 and 1919, in the mid-1960s from Verne Wilder, who owned Wilder’s Restaurant at 13th and Main streets. Stanley was 15 years old at the time, and his mother was hoping to keep him out of the local pool halls by getting him his own table.

After shooting a game of pool with Wilder on the second floor of the restaurant, Stanley used his savings to buy the table from him. For the next 40 years, the table became a significant part of his pastime.

“For the most part, it’s been in pretty continuous use,” he said.

At the home Stanley shared with his wife, Judy, until the May 2011 tornado, the pool table was part of a game room that also included slot machines, a jukebox and a player piano. Most of that was destroyed when the tornado struck their house, which was in the 2500 block of South Minnesota Avenue.

The pool table itself fell victim to the heavy rainfall that followed the tornado, Stanley said.

“It just made me sick to see that pool table sit out there in the rain for a couple of weeks,” he said.

Dewey Sheets Jr., owner of Furniture Rescue in Joplin, said the pool table had significant water and wind damage in addition to being coated with insulation and debris from the tornado. Repairing it required several phases of regluing the veneer, sanding, restaining, adding new top coats of finish and replacing some of the pearl inlay, he said.

“It was just a pretty intense project because of the age of the table,” he said. “But we got ’er done.”

Meanwhile, the Stanleys built a house on a different lot in Joplin and opted not to bring the table home with them after it was repaired.

Instead, Stanley donated the table to the Elks, along with a cue rack with double-glass mirrors that also had come from Wilder’s Restaurant, for use in their new lodge. He plans to also donate eight or nine cues to the Elks once he has refinished those.

“That pool table has been a source of a lot of fun over the years, and I just wanted to do something with it,” Stanley said. “I hope people get some use out of it.”

About the pool table

THE BRUNSWICK KLING POOL TABLE, donated to the Joplin Elks Lodge by Randy Stanley, is made of Circassian walnut veneer and would have cost about $545 when it originally was purchased during the 1910s, Stanley said.

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