At the Eagles Club

Ash
bayat / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Crosscut

The smoke used to hang so dense in the wood-paneled interior of the Vashon Island Eagles Lodge Aerie # 3144 that people’s faces across the room, friends you’d known for decades, were hard to distinguish through the haze.

“You’d come in and choke,” said Holly Divis, a grandmother and on-again, off-again smoker who frequents the lodge.

Regulars would drift in past the pool table swarming with kids, the Twilight Zone pinball machine incessantly dinging away. They’d sidle up to the bar, plant themselves on stools, and smoke non-stop for hour after hour, ripping through piles of pulltabs with names like Magic Lamp and In the Crosshairs and downing drinks from plastic cups. Run out of ciggies? No worries. A tin can on the wood-plank bar labeled “Bar Snacks – $0.25″ was stuffed with single smokes for the taking.

“They didn’t even have to get up to go smoke, so they wouldn’t know how drunk they were,” said Terry Beall, a large woman with teased blond hair, sitting at the bar and picking at a plate of fruit crepes with whipped cream. “They’d be falling off their chairs before they realized they’d had enough. I didn’t come in here back then.”

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