by Bill Mardis
A 2 1/2-cent token found by David Barnett near his home in the Plato-Vanhook community came from the Flamingo, a poolroom that operated during the middle to late 1940s at the corner of Maple and Market streets in Somerset. (See Wednesday’s Commonwealth Journal).
“I played pool there (at the Flamingo) all the time,” said Dave Bingham, resident of the Dabney community. “We called them ‘chips’ back then. The pool hall would give tokens when you won a game and you could trade tokens for hamburgers, hot dogs, candy and stuff like that.” I was pretty good back then. I won quite a few tokens,” he grinned.
“There were three other poolrooms on Zachary Way and all gave tokens,” Bingham recalls. Zachary Way, a narrow street linking Fountain Square to Market Street, is no more. The area is now part of the plaza fronting Pulaski Court of Justice.
“My dad, Boyd Bingham, had a furniture store across the street from the poolroom,” Bingham related. “I’d slip off and play pool and when he noticed I was gone he’d come and get me.”
The Maple-Market street area was a busy place during the 1940s. “Citizens Milling Company was next to the pool hall; Shortway Bus Lines had a terminal there; and (Somerset) City Hall, then nothing more than a hole in the wall, was down there where First and Farmers Bank is now,” Bingham recalled.
“Lando Herrin opened and operated the Flamingo poolroom,” Bingham said. “The Herrins lived in a rooming house above the pool hall.”
Bingham, who went in the Army in 1951, said he grew up with Ellis Herrin, Lando’s son. “Ellis still lives in Somerset,” he added. (Ellis Herrin is not listed in our telephone book and we were unable to contact him).
“I was using a metal detector when I found it,” said Barnett. “It was buried 3 or 4 inches in the ground in an overgrown yard where an old house used to stand.”
The story about the token Barnett found has created quite a buzz. Numerous people have called the newspaper office with comments and information about the token and other tokens they have found.