Our claim to fame is that we’re the oldest bar in Minnesota. Well, there are a couple of other saloons in the state that are older, but they’ve had to close at one time or another. Neumann’s has never closed. Not for the Great Depression. Not during Prohibition.
During Prohibition, the bar sold near beer. That kept the Federal boys happy. Upstairs was a speakeasy. That kept the customers happy. Homemade booze and good times ran freely up there. If you’d rather go fishing, the bait store in the basement sold minnows, worms, along with bootleg to fortify you for that long haul to the St. Croix River.
Even our restrooms have a bit of history attached to them. The ladies room used to have a life-sized picture of Charles Atlas wearing nothing but a fig leaf on the wall. When the leaf was lifted, a buzzer would go off in the bar. Pretty corny, but got a lot of laughs when the red-faced victim would walk back into the bar. One embarrassed woman finally tore old Charlie off the wall. Some people have no sense of humor, eh?
On the wall outside the men’s room are some 1940 vintage nudies that are well worth taking a peak at. Women are welcome to stroll back there and peak, too. It’s worth a good chuckle. There’s also some interesting reading on the opposite wall – comic strips and headlines of the same vintage.
The back bar is probably one of the nicest you’ll ever see. Now, we ain’t sayin’ that we make it a practice of bar hoppin’ from state to state, but we’ve been in many a bar in many a state from here to the west coast, for one reason or another, and our back bar is about the purtiest we’ve seen. It was installed by Hamm’s Brewery when the bar was opened and that kind of PR by far surpasses the plastic day-glo signs the breweries are putting out these days.
The frogs in the tanks attract more attention than anything else in the bar (except for the rare occasion when a customer falls off a barstool). During the winter, the frogs don’t do much. But during summer, there’s always somebody hanging around outside or inside watching them. For generations, neighborhood kids have been bringing in buckets of minnows, crawdads and even baby frogs to feed the big guys. If you’re ever here when these meals come in, step over and watch them feed. It’s a sight you won’t forget in a hurry.
The old clock is not the clock that Bill Neumann bought when he opened the bar in 1887. We’ve been told it’s from 1892. It even runs accurately when someone remembers to wind it.
Daytime is pretty quiet – don’t imagine much has changed in the last hundred years but the faces. The old timers come into town for a couple of draft beers and some conversation. Folks come and go at lunchtime and filter in and out on the way home from work. Towards evening, people meet here in groups before going somewhere else or just hang out enjoying each others company.
In the summer, when the ball teams are active, the place gets so crowded on Wednesday and Thursday nights that it’s standing room only sometimes. People literally pour out onto the patio alongside the building. What a neat place to sit with friends and a pitcher and just enjoy being alive. We’re even working on how to get rid of the scourge of the summer – mosquitoes.
Well, it looks like we’ve gone from past to present and we’re starting to ramble. Again, thanks for visiting Neumann’s. It’s a good place to be – comfortable atmosphere, friendly people and a lot of history. Not to mention the best dern tacos you’ll eat. We’re glad you stopped by and hope to see you again!