Saturday, October 6, 2012

Doug Plasman Remembers the Barrel

Having grown up in Holland, MI in the 1950-60 the Saugatuck Mt Baldie was a every summer event.  My family and two other families from Holland would have a picnic every summer at the picnic table area at the foot of Mt Baldie.  A classic hamburg fry using the Coleman stoves made for a delicious meal.  The kids would all climb Mt. Baldie and view beautiful Lake Michigan.  No matter how much we had for supper it was never complete unless we stopped at the famous root beer barrel for the ice cold root beer that was served in frosted mugs.  If I am not mistaken I believe car hops would serve us.  It was some of the best root beer I would have ever taste.  I have lived in Grand Rapids most of my adult life and my wife and I would often take rides in  in the summer to Saugatuck.  I would often mention the famous root beer barrel to my wife and tell her the stories but so wished I could find out what ever happened to the famous barrel.  In 2010 we were coming back from a sunset at the Oval Beach andwe talked about the barrel again.  I took a few side roads and there we spotted the old barrel probably 50 yards off the road.  We got out of the car and walked by it.  Unbelievable!  We had found it!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My First Root Beer Float

Back in 1957, I had my very first root beer float here while visiting my Grandmother at her cottage (WIT’S END) on Campbell street backed up against the 7th T of the now gone golf course.
I was just there last weekend and went “in search of”. It was bitter sweet as many of the old places are gone. The Redwood Inn, The Blue Heron, among a few. But most of all I would love to see the Root Beer Barrel back.
I took my wife up Mt Baldy after visiting the museum. The memories of those times visiting Nana and Grace (her friend that lived down at the end of Campbell) will be with me forever.
 Thanks for holding on to the memory for me.

BILL NORMAN
Downers Grove, IL

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mary Olendorf- Barrel Memories

Mary Olendorf- Barrel Memories

We came from Highland Park, Illinois. My husband Bill was working for Leo Burnett Advertizing Agency in Chicago and he had the territory over here. We were in our 20s and just ended up in Saugatuck for the night. I said "Wouldn't it be fun to rent a cottage over here?" It was just reckless conversations, but we rented this cottage for two summers and then we bought it, and we've had it 60 years now. My son lives there now, about 12 mail boxes north of M-89. We used to call the "What-Not Inn" the "Country Club of Pier Cove".

We came in about the time when the McVoy's bought the Barrel. We had just bought our cottage on the lake shore and we have so many memories. Picking up Bill Friday night at the train from Chicago in Fennville and always going to the Barrel for a foot-long and root beer. And then when Bill was a student at Ox-Bow he'd always call and say he was going to stop and get a hot dog and he'd say "Don't wait dinner".  And then there would be the cast parties the Gallas'es would have out there after the show. 


Then there was the time I met Burt Tillstrom out there, of course we were good friends of Burt's anyway, and I asked him if he was buying a foot-long for Kukla.


 I knew the Crowders (or the Clarks as they were know) and when they rented the cottage I was very good friends of theirs.  


Towards the end of the Barrel's operational life, there were other places coming in and the Barrel kind of faded away. 


The "other barrel"

There was another Barrel out near the Red Barn on Blue star Highway. I don't think it was  my imagination, but out there where the Shell station is today was a barrel. When we moved here I thought that's where the barrel had come from and that they'd moved it,  but after hearing the history of the barrel I know now that it did not.  We went by it every day going to the Red Barn. Now going back, this was when John Upjohn owned the Red Barn and Jimmy Dias ran it, there was a house there, and it was a boarding house, and I know for a number of years they used the house behind the Barrel  as a boarding house for all the actors that came to the Red Barn. And I don't know if the other barrel belonged to that house or who it belonged to or what happened to it, but one day it disappeared. It was the same size as the Barrel. Maybe someone else who was here before the 50's remembers it. It came into our view when Jimmy Webster bought the big barn, and I'm sure that other barrel was gone when John Upjohn bought the Red Barn. Right behind the Shell station I think I can still see the little hill where the house had been.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Lived in the Barrel Cottage- by Robin Crowder Perry


We knew the Gallases somehow and I believe that's how we came to live in the rental cottage at the rear of the Barrel. We were there the end of the 60s to like 72-73 when the Wilson's quit running the Barrel. When the Gallas'es operated it I was pretty little and I don't really have many memories of it from that time, except for George and  Joann Gallas were dancers and Nicki worked there and they would do a dance move and lift her up and twirl her around and stuff like that. But when the Wilson's ran it  there Susie Wilson and I and my sister Stacey would go into the Barrel and she would let us be helpers, "let us be helpers" like in quotes and we ended up helping her get the orders ready and taking orders and hanging out there, probably really, really, bugging her but she was really nice and we were helpers there for one whole summer that I remember and it was really fun. I remember eating foot-long hot dogs and drinking root beer and people would come up and that was my first experience like with a job and she taught us everything about running a Barrel. My sister Stacey thinks we have our initials carved in there, but I don't remember that. She remembers us carving our initials next to the soda fountain, where you would get the pop and stuff like that.
My name is Crowder and my sister's name in Crowder, so I'm Robin Crowder and my sister is Stacey Crowder,  and my other sister is Kelley Crowder. My Mom and Dad were Bob and Sue Crowder, but we were also known as the Clark family because my Dad was an announcer in Chicago, and went by the name of "Del Clark". He was friends with a lot of people up here in Saugatuck and so we would come up every summer, stay at the cottage and that's how we came to know the Root Beer Barrel. So some people know us as the Clarks. We are known to the Gallases and the Wilsons as the Clark family. We're from Evanston and that's where the Wilsons are from.
We were there probably 6-7 years. We'd come up from Chicago as soon as school was out, stay at the cottage and go back in time for the start of school. And my Dad would come up and join us on the weekends. He worked for CBS, WBBM, a sports announcer for NASCAR and Indianapolis. Both radio and television, and the racing circuit…. the late 60s all through the 70s. This was our summer home. When I began High School we actually moved here in 1976 and my family is still out here and my Dad still goes back and forth to Chicago.
I have great memories of the Barrel because it was coming up to Saugatuck and it was just fun to hang out there and it was my first job, it wasn't paid and I'm sure that Susie thought "This is really cool I have these two girls doing stuff free", but for us it was awesome being inside the Root Beer Barrel helping her out. I remember mostly Susie Wilson and the Gallases. Who can forget them they are really nice people. I remember thinking she's cool because I'm 10 and she's like 18. Loving foot-long hot dogs, loving the root beer.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Woody Wilson Planted The Birch Tree

Daughter Susie Wilson Capillo recalls that it was her father who planted the birch tree which appears in front of the Barrel cottage in this mid 1970s vintage photo.