Goodbye, Opal

December 27th, 2006 at 7:53 pm by Mark
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     Last week I got the news that Opal’s Lounge, Knoxville’s best Dive, had sold out.  Swanky and I have frequented the place on off for many years now, having a beer, playing darts and talking to Opal, the owner.
     A few years ago, her grandson Robbie started helping her out, and the crowd changed a little — it became younger, and a lot more obnoxious than the older “neighborhood regulars” who usually frequented the place.
     Still, I could always go in before 7PM and sit and talk to Opal, smoke cigarettes and laugh.

     I told Swanky about it last week.  Today, he broke the story on his blog.  Since my name was on it, I couldn’t help but go and check it out…

     Today, it already felt like a different place. No Opal. No Robbie. Strange people, who I didn’t know, struggled with both the cash register and finding that elusive “Miller Lite.”
     The familiar painting — one her late husband had brought from Mexico — was no longer on the wall above the cash register, and several other items we’ve stared at over the years just weren’t there.  It all felt a little surreal, and I sat there wondering if Opal had taken her things, or if they’d shoved them in the storage room.

     Finally, I looked at the new bartenders, and asked, “I’m confused… where’s Opal?”
     “She sold out!” he said happily.
     He introduced himself, personable enough.  They’re friends of Robbie’s, and will be converting the bar into “D A’s Sports Bar” (I believe that’s what he said — was hard to hear over the TV & Jukebox). They told me that Opal did everything she could to help them get into the place.

     “Sold it to us two weeks ago,” he said. “But it was official … last week.”
     Strangely, last week was the first  heard about it … from one of my clients. Opal had called him a few minutes before I walked in the door.
     Given that, I’m kinda surprised she didn’t say anything when Swanky and I were there on her last Friday.  Like he says…

If you go by before 7PM these days, you can still hang out with Opal herself. She is a legend in Knoxville bars. She has been like a grandmother to me. One that smokes, drinks and cusses.

     Instead, she gave Swanky and I each a hug and a kiss, and said, “I love you boys!”
     That’s pretty damn special, coming from Opal.

     And after going there this afternoon, I miss her already.


One Response to “Goodbye, Opal”

  1. Monty Says:

    Way back when, Opal would have a huge Thanksgiving spread at the bar. She’d cover the pool tables with table clothes and they would both be covered with food. An incredible array of people would come by for a great free dinner. Besides just being amazing to do such a thing, it was just amazing the people that came by to say hello and maybe get a little fried chicken.