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.


  1. Robin, Stacey and Kelly! I used to babysit for you when you were little. My maiden name was Siska. I remember an awful storm one night when I was there and the power went out. You were good little girls that I remember. Do you ever go back to the area? I left when I was 18 and never have lived there again. I come visit from time to time as my Mom still lives in the area. I will actually be around the week of 4 July visiting. It was fun reading you post.

    1. Robyn Crowder PerryJune 23, 2012 at 6:13 AM

      Hi Sandy, Thanks for the great story! I'm reading it while sitting on my boat at Tower Marine in Saugatuck. I dont remember this but I loved reading it. Im here a lot of the time and my dad lives with my sister in Holland. I will be here on the 4th too. The friends of the barrel will be marching in the parade(not me this year). Thanks again for the post.