The walls were covered with carpet remnants donated by Dave Cokonougher, and the floor covered with peanut shells. It was a dark little room, formerly a barbershop operated by “Red” Barr. But it was a little lighter when the nail keg-covered lights were turned on, as well as a couple of beer signs and the small TV.
Table tops were old wooden spool ends placed atop single-leg, four-footed table bottoms that never held the tops level, and the L-shaped bar accommodated only seven tall bar stools purchased on Water Street in Chillicothe. Under the bar was a three-tap keg cooler purchased from Marian Wise, and one of the taps spewed “dark” beer mandated by Larry Chapman and a few other beer connoisseurs.
The “beer joint” was Jeff’s Corner, intended to be and mostly was a quiet little neighborhood tavern where folks could gather for a chit-chat and munch on the free salty peanuts and the free over-salted popcorn.
Quiet except for Friday nights, when Jim Fultz – Mr. Taco – would be there concocting his famous fifty-cent tacos and burritos. There was standing room only on taco night, and customers hung onto their padded bench seats along the wall until they had to pee, thereafter losing their prime location.
And visitors’ first trip to the toilet often was a memorable, even embarrassing, trip. The bathroom was large enough only for a commode, a small hand sink and a water heater. There was, however, one blank wall large enough for a six-foot tall poster of a scantily dressed brunette. Covering her torso “where the legs meet” was a hinged toilet seat. At the hinge was a refrigerator light switch, with hidden wires running to a nearby burglar alarm siren.
Whenever a new customer spent a little time imbibing and had to visit the latrine, the regulars would smile at each other and wait. Often, the siren would go off, scaring hell out of the unsuspecting urinator. Most often, there would be a delay before they exited the toilet, and when they did, they were greeted by a round of applause and jeers. Honestly, it was at least 15 minutes before the wife of the bank vice president opened the door to applause. She was very red-faced.
A beer cost fifty cents, but the bartender never quoted that price. It was a “half a dollar.” And you would have enjoyed seeing the expression on the face of a first-time customer when, after handing over a dollar, the bar keep would rip the bill in half and hand back a half-dollar in change.
George Foltz occasionally recalls the time his brother, Digger, brought a group of friends from Indiana into the joint one night. They were sitting around one of the tables when a giant black spider dropped from the ceiling and wiggled in front of their shocked faces. Behind the bar was an old Johnson spincast reel loaded with just the right amount of clear monofilament line. The line ran through a series of screw eyes to the location over the table before it was attached to the fake spider. One click from behind the bar and the spider greeted new customers. With Digger and his friends, it was the topic of conversation for some time.
Jeff’s Corner was the epitome of casual. “Customers” often were required to pull their own beer, especially if they had complained that the “head” was too tall. And many times the proprietor would simply leave the building, drafting one of the customers to be in charge.
Yes, it was an interesting tavern, and an enjoyable visit for most. It opened in the mid-70s and lasted only two or three years. But it still brings flashbacks of enjoyable times and the reminiscing of a brief era of special friendship gatherings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I know many of you have a memory to share about Jeff’s Corner. Here’s your chance. Just scan down the page a little and type in your memory. You’ll have to give a name and your email address but it’s only to prevent Spammers. It won’t hurt at all and you can help bring a smile to many people’s faces