First Call: Thompson's Point of View, Boisterous in Mourning

The mural outside of Thompson's.
The watering hole: Thompson's Point of View, 2308 E. Union St. in the Central District.

The atmosphere: For a Wednesday at 6 p.m., raucous and familial. There were two darts games going, with enough trash-talk to make you think that number was twice as high, and a mostly middle-aged crowd, all of whom seemed to know each other by first, last and nickname. Am I trying to say that I -- 20 years younger than most and 10 shades lighter than all -- stuck out like a sore thumb? Yes, that is what I'm trying to say.

The barkeep: Elma or Thelma. Couldn't quite nail that one down, for reasons that will soon be obvious.

The drink: Bacardi and Coke. But that was my choice. If Elma -- we'll drop the "Th" for convenience sake -- had had her wits about her it would have been a "Thompson's Special." The contents of which are still a mystery. But Elma did not have her wits. And for that no can blame her.

I moved out here six months ago, to a place that, to get anywhere else in the city, requires a drive past the corner of 23rd and Union. Or should I say, the "notorious" corner.

As Mike Seely put it in his little guide to dive bars (heard of it?), "what passes for 'notorious' in Seattle would make a Chicagoan laugh his fanny off." Still, this is the same block that gave us a homicide at the now-closed Philly Cheesesteak. And after a couple weeks passing by it, and always seeing the same three cop cars parked outside with their lights on, the girlfriend and I started calling it "Thompson's, Where Everyone Has a Differing Point of View."

Trouble seems to find Thompson's often. Especially after the closure of Deano's on Madison, which is supposedly where trouble used to spend its nights.

But post-work the crowd is all family. As Vernal Coleman put it, drinking in Thompson's is like drinking in "the Central District's living room." And unfortunately, dad won't be coming home again.

"My man died yesterday morning," said Elma, while scooping the yolks out of a hard-boiled egg. "He was 51. Way too young."

This explained why she couldn't remember what went in the eponymous drink. And why there was a xeroxed copy of a funeral notice on the barback with "in loving memory of Carl Thompson Jr." written across the top.

Just cuz the patriarch passed, however, doesn't mean the party stopped. Two days away from burying her husband, Elma was busy, busy, busy, and still with it enough to bust balls on a man everyone called "Fat Back" while "Hoochie Mamas" played on the juke.

"I may be in mourning," she said, finally delivering a plate of those eggs, now deviled, "but I still gotta work."

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