The only action in Bedford, on a warm and misty Tuesday night, came from behind the windows of an old storefront on Main Street. Cars cruised by on wet streets. Pool balls collided with dull bumps inside.
Bedford is between Roanoke and Lynchburg, past the big gas storage tanks in Montvale. It’s the county seat, known for the National D-Day Memorial and views of the Peaks of Otter. Bridge Street cuts across Main in a sleepy town center of antique shops, restaurants, a hardware store and a church whose steeple once blew off in a late-summer tornado.
Night comes alive inside Shooters Pool Hall and Arcade. A thin layer of smoke floats above the green felt-carpeted tables. Fluorescent lights hang from chains from the white tiled drop ceiling.
Timothy Madril — in his mid-40s, cigarette dangling from his lips, eyes squinting — aims his pool stick at the cue ball and the left pocket across the table. He’s a single dad, raising two teenagers in a town he embraces as a safe haven, after living with crime in Florida. “I wouldn’t enter the place before Buck bought it,” he said. “Now it’s family-oriented, peaceful.”
“This town is boring,” said Buck Cox, who, with his wife, Stephanie, bought the pool hall in February. In a town where most businesses close before dinner time, Shooters stays open until midnight. The weeknight league clientele, carrying their sticks in leather bags slung over their shoulders, saunter in with the gaited confidence of pros.
One of them, John “Butcher” Hensley, 71, a widower, makes the quiet dance across the linoleum, around the table, to find the perfect angle. He hangs around past midnight, a pool stick in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other.
“I’m addicted to pool,” he said. “It’s about the only sport I enjoy doing other than pitching horseshoes.”
– Stephanie Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times
ZIP Codes: A photographic journey through Southwest Virginia Explore the whole series here, at roanoke.com
24523: Bedford by the numbers
- Average household income: $53,797
- Population: 19,395
- Households: 7,904
- Average age: 42
- Average travel time to work in minutes: 26
Source: The Nielson Co., 2010