When I came across this story on mlive.com about a particular Saugatuck-Douglas icon it conjured up memories of some California's advertising "eye catchers" like the long forgotten Oscar The Clown, or the Star Of India Or Los Angeles' Randy's Donuts Donut
The local icon that I am referring to is "the barrel". Many of you probably remember the 1950s-era root beer and hot dog stand — in the shape of a 17-foot-tall wooden barrel — provided refreshments for tourists and beach goers in the Saugatuck-Douglas area for two decades.
It was one of many pieces of Americana created after World War II to catch the eye of the traveling public and sell them goodies.
A joint effort of the Historical Society and a Friends of the Barrel committee created by the City Council hopes to bring new life to the Barrel. The Historical Society bought it last year for $1 when members learned the roadside attraction might be torn down because of its deteriorating condition.
“I worked there one summer after I got out of the Army, making root beer floats, hot dogs and serving up ice cream,” said Gerald Bekken, 86.
“We would get double lines of cars parked all around the Barrel to buy mugs of root beer and hotdogs. There was a carhop outside who took the orders, and I worked inside to fill them. There wasn’t a lot room in the Barrel, just enough for one or two people to work.”
Local architect and designer Judy Hillman is on the 15-member Friends of the Barrel committee, which plans to restore the landmark’s original look for placement on city property as a tourist attraction.
Do you have a "barrel story" or memory to share?