- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - Bertha Atkins has experienced her share of surprises as a bartender at the Redman Club in New Albany for well over a decade.

Saturday’s might top the list.

Atkins celebrated her 80th birthday with a surprise party at the club surrounded by friends and customers.

“She’s the best bartender in New Albany,” said Sherry Marsh, a friend of Atkins for 50 years. “Everybody knows her and everybody loves her.”

The Redman Club is small, five high-top tables and a bar, and a Saturday afternoon usually only draws a handful of customers. But Saturday saw 30 or more at any one time as people came and went in a steady stream bearing cards and gifts for Atkins.



“I told them I didn’t want no party,” she said. “My friends had one here for me anyway.”

Atkins had shown up to work her regular 2 p.m.-to-close shift on Saturday but was greeted by friends yelling, “Surprise!”

Another bartender covered her shift so she could mingle and eat some of the cake provided by Marsh. A family party was held Sunday, where she spent time with her two daughters and some of her three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

While Atkins enjoyed the surprise, it was not the first surprise party she’s had at a bar where she was working.

“When I was 65 I had a stripper,” she said. “He was nice and kept it clean. I have had some surprises, I’ll tell you!”

Atkins retired once. She didn’t care for it. “I’ll retire again when I win the lottery,” she said with a laugh. She says most things with a laugh.

“She’s just packed full of fun,” said Joe Bowman. “She’s such a people person. I’ve got some stories but you couldn’t put them in the paper.”

More than one friend likened her to the Energizer Bunny. “She just keeps going and going,” said Steve Goodman. In addition to her three-day-a-week bartending gig, she cleans the local VFW.

Although she’s worked a variety of jobs, Atkins said she has tended bar off and on since she was 21. “I retired and I just didn’t know what to do with myself and I went back to bartending,” she said.

Her first job was sewing with M. Fine & Sons.

“I lied about my age,” she said. “I was 15. I was supposed to be 16.”

But her favorite job has always been tending bar.

“You meet so many people,” she said.

When she’s not working, Atkins is still doing.

“She takes care of several of the older gentlemen in the club,” said Dava Day. “She makes sure they eat and she cleans their house. She buys groceries for some people, too.”

“She’s everybody’s den mother,” agreed Goodman.

“She’d do anything for anybody,” said Nate Flanagan. “I’ve know her for about 45 years. “She’s always ready to help somebody out if they need something, whether it’s money or help getting something.”

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Source: News and Tribune, https://bit.ly/1RKcqXS

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Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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