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.


  1. Robyn Crowder PerryJune 23, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Hi Mary, is this how my family ended up staying at the cottage behind the Barrel? I always thought you and Bill must have brought us to Saugatuck.Such good memories.

  2. Hello. My family went to the Simmons "honeymoon cottage" for 30+ years. My wife Lori and I got married in the Arboretum (1992). We went back for my parents 50th and stayed in the Curtis family house. The Rootbeer barrel as we called it in the day. I would love to see this rebuilt.