Bartender at Albert Lea Eagles Club retires after 40 years

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, June 3, 2014

For the last 40 years, Lou Miller brought a bright outlook to the bar at the Albert Lea Eagles Club.

“I loved serving the people,” Miller said. “I always say there’s good in everyone. Sometimes you’ve just got to go look for it.”

Lou Miller stands outside of her apartment, which is above the Albert Lea Eagles Club at 205 W. William St., where she bartended for 40 years. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Lou Miller stands outside of her apartment, which is above the Albert Lea Eagles Club at 205 W. William St., where she bartended for 40 years. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The newest chapter in Miller’s life is retirement. Patrons and fellow employees packed the Eagles Club on May 24 to thank her for years of dedication.

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“They had appetizers with crackers and cheese and a lunch,” Miller said. “There were lots of cards and gifts from people all over town. It was really nice.”

Miller’s apartment is above the Eagles Club, and she was known for taking shifts if employees were sick or unable to come to work.

“She was always there to jump in when we needed someone,” said Ron McIntyre, who is Miller’s son and has been a bookkeeper and bartender at the Eagles Club for 25 years. “This was basically her second home and a big part of her life. Everyone liked her, and she gave a lot more than she took.”

Although Miller left her mark in Albert Lea, she was born and raised on a farm 11 miles from Bismarck, N.D., as the youngest of 13 children. Miller had seven sisters and five brothers. Her parents — originally from Waseca — moved to North Dakota in the early 1900s to utilize the Homestead Act.

“At the time if you went and built a house or a building on some land, it was given to you by the government,” Miller said.

The Great Depression was ending as Miller grew up, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of fun on her family farm.

“We didn’t have much money, but we had good times,” she said. “We made due with what we had.”

Miller said her father built a wooden sled to use in the snow, and she spent a lot of time playing with her siblings.

“We played a game called hanover where you’d throw a ball over a building, and somebody would catch it on the other side and throw it back,” she said. “Then there was the fox and the goose in the winter time, and we worked during the summer.”

Miller’s family raised cattle, horses, geese, turkey and chickens.

“We had a big family, so we had to raise everything we ate,” she said. “My mom would also order groceries from the Sears Roebuck catalog.”

After her father died, Miller moved to Albert Lea with her mother and sons Ron, Mark and Dan McIntyre in June of 1964. That year, she was hired as a switchboard operator at Interstate Power & Light Co.

“A phone line would buzz, and you’d have to take a cord and plug it into the spot for the office they were calling,” Miller said. “They’d always have to go through the operator before they got the call. It was different back then.”

After working on the switchboard, she moved to the cashiering and complaint departments at Interstate Power & Light Co. She worked there for 29 years.

During the 50 years Miller has lived in Albert Lea, she has seen the town grow.

“The town has changed, but for the good,” she said. “There are a lot of businesses in town, and that’s good for employment. It’s been good for me, too. It put my boys through college.”

Ron and Mark are graduates of Minnesota State, Mankato University, and Dan graduated from St. Cloud State University. All three graduated from Albert Lea High School.

Now that Miller is retired, she plans to continue her hobby of reading.


Lou Miller

Age: 83

Address: 205 W. William St., Albert Lea

Livelihood: Retired waitress and bartender at Albert Lea Eagles Club

Family: sons Ron, Mark and Dan McIntyre

Interesting fact: She grew up on a farm with 12 siblings.