Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Bonnie McVoy, Car Hop, circa 1955
We are still collecting memories of the Douglas root beer barrel!! Ten former employees or owning families now have their memories on the "Barrel blog".
These include young Miss Bonnie McVoy (Now Bonnie Verwys) whose family may have operated it for the longest period (c1954-c1961). If you have memories or pictures to add, send them along to Chris Yoder at or call             269-857-4327      .

Barrel ca 1952
The Barrel was recently saved from demolition by a group of preservationists ("Friends of the Barrel") of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. The Society obtained the structure and the Friends have a plan in place to move it (deconstruct) and eventually restore it to its original glory - hopefully to a place in Douglas where it can remain the 'icon' it was during the mid-century day's when the fast-food 'drive-in' culture and fast-food "highway architecture" was at its height. In addition to the Historical Society, the Friends received support from the Douglas City Council. No funds are being solicited or accepted at this time. The group is looking for a workspace.
Please add your name to the Friends of the Barrel by contacting Judy Hillman, 
The Barrel was built in the early 1950s by Joe Decker and Harold Kelly. They built it in Joe's back yard in Flint, disassembled it and brought it to Douglas on a flatbed for reconstruction. They operated it for several years before selling it to the Earl McVoy. The McVoys operated it into the 1960s when George and JoAnn Gallas bought it and operated it for several years, then selling it to Woodrow Wilson.
During the McVoy ownership, a miniature golf course was added to the west side. The Barrel became a favorite for root beer, burgers, and foot-long hot dogs (forty cents), and root beer floats (twenty cents). It closed sometime around 1977. Originally without the exterior iron bands (see photo above), the barrel was of varnished wood planks ("stays"), with a number of exterior lights on stem-like poles that cast the light downward onto the structure. Read the memories of those who worked there at the Barrel Blog.
The "Barrel Story" is still being written. Send your reminiscences/Barrel Stories to Chris Yoder at, phone             269-857-4327       or writing them yourself into the Society's blog - just click HERE.
PHOTOGRAPHS of the Barrel are very rare. If you have photos to share, email or call Chris Yoder at, phone             269-857-4327      
 JOIN the Barrel reconstruction/Preservation group. Contact Judy Hillman ,Brent Birkholz,Duane Brown or Chuck Carlson

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