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So Long 49’r Lounge

A 49'r Regular Shares Her Favorite Memories
So Long 49’r Lounge
Published on October 29, 2010 : 6 comments

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When I was single and living in Dundee in the 1980s and 1990s, schlepping to the 49’r Lounge with my best friend every Friday evening became a ritual for us like eating pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. No matter what the weather, my friend would drive to my apartment, and together we would walk down 49th Street to Dodge where we would make a quick left, take a few steps down a narrow sidewalk, and reach the door of the great neighborhood dive where everyone really did know our names.

As we pushed the door open, a cloud of smoke escaped like a prisoner just paroled and billowed past our heads. Known for its diverse jukebox selection, competitive dart games, and lively shuffleboard tournaments, the 49’r had easily become our home away from home—a place where we could truly be ourselves. Week after week, we ordered pitchers of beer, fed our starving stomachs with 99-cent packs of beer nuts, and lamented over men, our jobs, and our futures.

Everybody, let's have a good timeEverybody, let’s have a good time - goodbye messages from 49r patronsEveryone knew where we were on a Friday night. The 49’r was the kind of place where we could put our feet up on a chair without worrying about dirtying the cushions, listen to the Stones on the jukebox, and write a check for cash if we ran out of money. It didn’t matter if we could see our breath in the bathroom in the winter, that the furniture needed a paint job, or that the wallpaper was peeling. It was a time when life was as simple as our needs. We wanted for nothing more than a cold beer, good conversation, and a place to hang out and dream.

The 49’r wasn’t the kind of establishment that served frou-frou drinks or gourmet food, but it was the place where I met my best friend’s future husband for the first time, where we caught up with high school friends who were home from college for the holidays, and where we laughed until it hurt. It was the kind of place where you could loudly sing along to the jukebox, openly scream for your team during a fierce shuffleboard tournament, and whoop with delight when you saw someone you hadn’t seen in a long time—all without receiving one glaring look from an uptight stranger. The 49’r was truly frou-frou free, and that’s why we loved it.

The 49r's back door front doorThe 49r’s back door front doorEvery Friday night as we opened the door to leave, we turned around and waved to the bartender. He would wink and then yell, “See you next week!” In a time in our lives when nothing ever seemed certain, my friend and I knew that no matter what, we could count on the 49’r to be there. There was no question—we would be back.

And then we both were married in the same year. My best friend and I both had children and became as busy as any two young mothers whose priorities had suddenly changed from drinking cold beers to wiping runny noses. Our visits to the 49’r Lounge became less and less frequent until they finally stopped a few years ago.

On October 26, 2010, after a valiant fight by the neighborhood to keep the 49th & Dodge Street corner as it had been for so many years, the 49’r closed its doors for the last time. When I heard the news, I called my best friend. This time, instead of discussing men, our jobs, and our families, we discussed change and how, no matter how hard we try sometimes, we cannot stop it. My best friend and I have both lived enough life to know that our memories are not lost as the 49’r is torn down to make way for a new business, but instead, follow us everywhere. My grandmother once gave me a plaque that read, “You never really leave a place you love. Part of it you take with you, and part of it you leave behind.” One fact is certain—I lived a lot of life inside that little neighborhood dive—a piece of my life I will never forget.

Thanks for the memories, 49’r.

Do you have your own memories of the 49’r? Please share them below.

VickyDVicky DeCoster Author of "The Wacky World of Womanhood" and "Husbands, Hot Flashes, and All That Hullabaloo!" Visit her web site at www.wackywomanhood.com

Comments

jordy says:

October 29, 2010 : 5 years 48 weeks ago

jordy's picture

My favorite memory of the 49’r was definitely produced by shots of that purple mystery drink they always had. The dance floor was empty, and I just really (apparently really really) wanted to start the party…one person joined, and then another, and then another…it was like this, only better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA8z7f7a2Pk

I’m not from Omaha, but I always felt at home at the Niner. I’ll miss it.

daphnedel says:

October 29, 2010 : 5 years 48 weeks ago

daphnedel's picture

I, too, am an Omaha transplant and the 49’r was a friendly place to go. It was just a block and a half from the apartment where I lived my first six years in Omaha. I remember having a couple pseudo dates there, the kind that never amount to anything. Even at the time, I didn’t care. The 49’r was a place you went to not care about anything but having a great time and maybe a weird conversation about a white rabbit.

I made a withdrawal of the last $20 from my Kentucky checking account at the ATM there. Money well spent.

My neighbor Caron and I used to go there. We’d smoke cloves on our way over, then down a few cheap beers. It was always hot, too crowded and the sound system sucked. It was absolutely wonderful.

Chris (schaft) (not verified) says:

November 7, 2010 : 5 years 46 weeks ago

Chris (schaft)'s picture

I “worked” at the bar during the last few years. I put quotes around work because I was only a bar back or door guy. And I also viewed it as getting paid to hang out with my friends, which doesn’t really fit the idea of work.

Though I’ve only been going there for about five years, The 49’r was my second home. I met so many of my closest friends either directly because of, or by proxy of, that bar. I’ve experienced some great parties, great shows and out of control nights inside those walls. But I’ve also seen some of the greatest acts of kindness and met some people with amazing hearts.

The process that led to the future destruction of that huge part of the neighborhood (not just The 49’r but that whole block) was a disgusting display of corporate greed and bullying and our city council should be ashamed for succumbing to it. But as you said, change cannot be stopped. I just don’t feel this change is as good as people outside of the neighborhood see it.

That place will always hold a special place in my heart, much like Ranch Bowl and Cog Factory. Though it’s gone now, it will not soon be forgotten.

Ryan Nelson (not verified) says:

November 8, 2010 : 5 years 46 weeks ago

Ryan Nelson's picture

Every Tuesday for years my friends and I would go down to the 9’r for Jeremy’s Green Eye Openers and a few rounds of darts. Most recently I was visiting on Tuesdays for Green Eyes and Pub Quiz. This was ‘my bar’ for a long time and it will be sorely missed. Thanks for a lot of great memories guys.

Anonymous (not verified) says:

November 8, 2010 : 5 years 46 weeks ago

Anonymous's picture

I never really cared for the Niner to be honest. I always preferred Brothers atmosphere and ample room. But that’s not to say I that I don’t have some good memories though. Like the time I tried to buy a used RKL shirt off of some strangers back for $30, the 2 shows I played there; once to a packed bar, thanks mostly to Bad Luck Charm playing the same show; and once to less than 8 people.

More than anything else, I realize how much I’ll miss it now that it’s gone, especially considering the circumstances.

Anonymous (not verified) says:

November 8, 2010 : 5 years 46 weeks ago

Anonymous's picture

The 9’r was home for my best friend and I for years. Neither of us was lucky enough to meet our husband there, though we did watch the stairs. we celebrated weddings, graduations, birtdays, mourned friends and family and just plain lived life there. It was our home away from home. One of my fondest memories is walking through the silence of a snowstorm, arm in arm with my B.F.F., listening to the crunch of the snow, 49’r bound. It was sad to see it go!