COLUMBIA — Every afternoon, around 4 p.m., Lucille “Lucy” Coleman would make her way down the hill from her mobile home in McBaine to Lucy’s Burgers and Beverages, the bar she owned and operated for 51 years. She’d order a “special Diet Coke” with a splash of vodka on ice. After two heart attacks, her children complained that her daily refreshment was made with alcohol, but Coleman insisted her doctors approved.
She’s had to be a bit tough to own a place that caters to both bikers and bicyclists. A few miles south of Columbia along Route K, you’ll find the place near an intersection with the Katy Trail. Step inside for a burger, an order of fried green beans or a beer, and you’ll see some of Coleman’s cowboy collection, an array of family photos and a shoulder-high water line marking the Great Flood of '93.
Lucy’s has seen its share of floods. The staff talks nonchalantly about the regular need to move the jukebox, the cigarette machine and the other equipment out when water is on its way to McBaine, a town that is home to fewer than 20 people.
Coleman grew up surrounded by water on Wilson Island, an islet between the then-wider banks of the Missouri River.
“There was water all around, you know,” she said. “We went across the creek, Perche Creek, in a boat. Sometimes we had a barge they’d pull across with a cable.”
The 82-year-old has spent most of her life in mid-Missouri. She opened Lucy’s in 1957 with her late husband, Hank.
“Before that, we had it in another little building that was there that had been a store," she said. "We had a few groceries, beer and sold cold sandwiches to the farmers.”
Lucy no longer makes the daily drive to the bar because she no longer runs the place. In early June, she sold the business to her great-nephew, Larry Morris, who conveniently lives above the bar.
When asked about her post-retirement life, Coleman said, “I really have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to sit down and think about it.”