The retired veteran finds routine, family at the Whitehall pub

The morning patrons at 840 Lounge talk so much they figured they should start their own social club with regular meetings. So that's what they did.

Last summer, founding members Dave Peterson, Carl Noreus and Dan Ward agreed on the name 840 Morning Philosophers Society, and decided they should have branded shirts to make it official.

“So Dan went down to the T-shirt place to get them printed up,” Peterson said in an April interview at the small Whitehall pub. “We didn't know that it was spelled incorrectly until about a week later.”

Although “philosophers” is missing its second “o,” they kept wearing the shirts.

Named society president, Peterson has been visiting 840 Lounge since the 1990s, when the nearby Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) and the now-closed Kroger distribution center brought in a larger clientele. Since retiring from the car repair business in 2013, he has incorporated the bar into his daily routine: He'll drive his car or ride his 2009 Harley-Davison Super Glide to 840 Lounge around 7 a.m., staying until around 11 a.m. when he leaves to visit the American Legion Post 490 veterans' organization. (“I was gone for a while, let's just put it that way,” is all Peterson will say of his time in the military.)

Then, he'll return home to make dinner and tinker in the garage to keep himself busy.

These days, it's just Peterson and his pug, Bandit. He is divorcing his fifth wife —“I'm not a quitter. I'm still looking,” he said — and he sees his three grown children “when they get a whim.”

So Peterson has found camaraderie with the 840 Lounge family. “We can talk about things which you don't want to divulge to other people,” he said.

They are also a giving group. Skilled in the kitchen, Peterson will make pizza or bake pies to share. “My mom [and] my grandma … taught me how to cook,” he said. “I was always in the kitchen because I was always in trouble, so I had to stay home. I picked up quite a few things from them.”

The other patrons will also look out for Peterson, making sure no one takes his parking space or his regular seat in front of the clock near the end of the bar. Peterson said he doesn't mind moving, but it's apparent he likes sitting in the same place, much like Norm from “Cheers.” (He even shares a last name with the TV character, Peterson noted.)

But not all acts of kindness are successful. Given Peterson's bad hip and other ailments, Noreus was entrusted to do Peterson's laundry. “That was on a Thursday,” Peterson recalled. “[On] Monday, I said, ‘Hey, Brother Carl, where's my laundry?' [He said,] ‘I gave them away to the Salvation Army.'”

Noreus had misunderstood Peterson's request. He compensated Peterson for the loss, but Peterson has been unable to replace his Harley-Davidson T-shirts.

“Everybody's getting a kick out of it,” Peterson said. “It's my turn in the barrel.”

Cracking jokes is par for the course for the society members in between their discussions about politics, world events and their personal lives. However, everyone is immediately accepted when they come into the bar.

“My grandfather had a philosophy, which I go by,” Peterson said. “You've never met somebody that you didn't like. They've always had to make you not like them. So anybody that comes in here, they're always welcome.”