Anne and Bill Haug, my parents, owned and operated Al's Bar on the main street of Bigfork (Electric Ave.) from 1950 until 1964.  It was a family place, with never a shortage of kids when the adults came to party on the weekends.  While Dad's name was Bill, he bought it from Al Mathews, and never changed the name. 

Prior to Al, it was called Ed and Vern’s Tavern. “In 1946 James Edward (Ed) Misener in partnership with Vern Paddack purchased the bar. They fixed it up and ran it for some years” (per Tak C. who is married to Ed’s granddaughter).

The exterior was stucco, with a wide canvas awning across the front, above two large windows and a set of double half-moon doors.  

The interior walls were plaster; canvas tents were suspended overhead to lower the high ceiling.  There were two main rooms separated by a wide archway.  On the left as you walked in, stood a pinball machine and juke box, which provided lively entertainment, especially at night.  The remainder of the left wall had three built-in horseshoe-shaped booths.  On the right was the back bar with three unframed, beveled glass arched mirrors above, and an ornate brass cash register in the center.  The bar was polished wood, with chrome and leather stools.

Dad proudly served Great Falls beer on tap and in bottles, as well as hard liquor.  A poker table in the back room was used to play pinochle, whist, cribbage and other games, including poker (no bets allowed).  An old out-of-tune upright piano was kept in the back room, but was seldom played until I learned how to read music.  Billiards, and later bumper pool in the back room were often in use.

The full basement had been used as a speakeasy during prohibition, and had also been a poker room; a dumb waiter moved money and drinks to/from the basement.  The back yard extended all the way to Osborn street, providing additional parking, and space for loading beer and liquor deliveries.

The bar was sold in 1964, but the new owner was diagnosed with cancer before the year was out, and sold the bar to Sam Bacon, who renamed it Sam's Place.  Sam purchased the adjoining property to the north, and expanded the bar to the present size of the lot.  After Sam's Place was destroyed by fire, the Double Eagle Bar was constructed on the site, only to be torn down in 2008 to make way for the present building.

Unless noted otherwise, all photos by Anne Haug.  Exterior photos were taken approximately 1950. Photos of me were taken 1955 - 1957. Interior photos were taken New Years Eve 1956, in honor of Ak's birthday, one of our night bartenders. Others, as noted.

Photos of Al's Bar

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