The final days: taking a walk down memory lane at the Petroleum Club

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – As the final days are here for the 420 Main building, many Tri-Staters are taking a walk down memory lane inside the city’s tallest building.

Charles Evans began working at the Petroleum Club in 1979 as a bus boy. He said it was the place everyone wanted to be and that it had the best view in Evansville. For 26 years, he made fond memories with countless members and co-workers as he made his way up to become the assistant manager.

“Finally on March 18 of 2006, I locked the doors for the last time as I said goodbye to all the members that left that night,” said Evans.

Evans said some of his greatest memories are with popular Maître d’ Tommie Wilson who worked at the Petroleum Club for 36 years. He said Wilson was like his mentor, teaching him how to do tableside service.

“Tommie started me out with Bananas Foster and it’s an inexpensive dessert to make so if you ruin it, it doesn’t really matter! That was when I was just a bus boy. I wasn’t even a server yet when Tommie took me under his wing and worked with me all those years.”

Some big names made their way to the swanky Evansville club – including Mr. T.

“he was a bodyguard. And he came up one night and he stood right inside the doors and never blinked an eye as long as I saw him. And I went over to Tommie and I was like ‘is that guy alright??’ He goes ‘that’s Mr. T. Don’t talk to him. He’s here for a reason.’ And I was like ‘okay!'”

Pop princess Paula Abdul also made an appearance.

“My one line was ‘more coffee Miss Abdul?'”

He said they never really discussed anything outside of the club and that whatever happened in the club was left in the club. “Tommie told me a long time ago ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth. Make sure you use the ears and not the mouth.'”

Since its closing, Evans says he tries to keep up with the old members and employees.

“Facebook has become a very wonderful thing. And that’s how I keep in touch with most of them… I just can’t even tell you how many different people that have touched my life and all of the great members… I mean, it was just a great overall experience. And truly truly missed being a part of the Petroleum Club.”

As for the club’s final days, Evans says he doesn’t want to miss it.

“I do plan on coming downtown and get as close as I can and watch them implode the building.”

Evans said he and Maître d’ Tommie Wilson memorized over 1,400 members names and to this day he gets excited when he sees someone out and they can reminisce together. The Petroleum Club and the rest of the 420 Main building will come down on Sunday, November 21.

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