Friday, March 4, 2011
The Olney and Westport, Illinois Barrels
by Glenn Decker, nephew of Joe and Carl
Joe Decker, Chuck's father, was an engineer and a graduate of the University of Illinois, and he designed the barrel. He built one of them in Saugatuck, and then my uncle Carl Decker built two. One was in Olney as kind-of a drive-in restaurant selling root beer and hot dogs. The other was put in Westport which is across from Vincennes, Indiana and it did the same thing selling root beer and foot long hot dogs and some French fries and things like that.
They built three of them as far as I know. Now Chuck thought there was one in Robinson too, but I don't think there was one at Robinson, maybe they considered but never built one. My father, his name was Glenn Decker, and he and Carl and a crew built the two in Illinois. I was a little kid when they built those.
The one in Saugatuck I think was built in 1952 or someplace around there. I would say the others were built in 1952-55. I was born in 44, and when I was growing up I worked at the one in Olney. The one in Olney still exists. A guy bought that and moved it out to the east side of Olney, it's about 300 yards off the road back in the woods.
The one over by Vincennes was actually on the Illinois side of the river in a little town called Westport. People from Vincennes would drive across the river and get hot dogs and root beer there. There is a restaurant in the northern part of Vincennes which has a picture on the wall of the Westport barrel. Next time I get up there I'll see if I can you a copy.