The Dixie Bar-B-Q at 1578 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, I am not sure if there is a walk up window. (FPLA/CADL)
It is odd what happens when you examine the story behind a piece of property. You tend to go down the rabbit hole and you end being taken on the oddest journey. I started to investigate greasy spoons, dive bars and burger joints that once existed in Lansing. During the course of my research I ran across a BBQ joint at 1578 E. Grand River (now 1568 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue) and I was hooked. With the advent of automobile travel almost all the traffic between Detroit and Grand Rapids passed by the apex of the point formed by Sheridan (renamed Oakland Avenue in 1964) and Grand River Avenue or as it was also known US Highway 16 (US 16). That lasted until 1962 when I-96 opened, offering a faster travel option. It is no surprise that the first business on the site was a gas station. Built in 1926, the Rowland & Stever Shell Station, operated by Jay L. Rowland and Glenn A. Stever was the first filling station you came to in Lansing as you headed north along Grand River Avenue. A gas station would occupy the location until 1948 when the building was torn down and replaced by a restaurant owned by Caliel R. Shoaf who managed the business until 1951. Caliel Rexford Shoaf passed away in Virginia City, Nevada on May 14, 1975. He was born in Essex, Missouri on October 7, 1910 and spent his life as a restaurateur. (Reno Gazette-Journal 5/16/1975) The next year the restaurant was acquired by Bill and Betty Paulins who opened the Dixie Bar-B-Q. Bill served in World War II and fought at Normandy. When he returned to Lansing after the war he married Betty (Florence E. Clark) and they worked toward their dream of owning a restaurant. The couple opened the Dixie Bar-B-Q in 1952, the business became famous for their Hot Puppy Sandwiches [Coney dogs]. What can one say about that name for Coney dogs except yuck. Bill and Betty from all accounts were great people, the type of people you only find in the Midwest. After the business closed Bill worked as an electrician and was the owner of the Meridian Amusement Company. He was born on March 24, 1924 in Pontiac, MI. and passed away in Charlotte, MI. on June 9, 2005. (LSJ 6/11/2005) The Dixie Bar-B-Q operated until 1955 when the business was sold to Carl Peak, who change the operation from diner to a drive-in.
Carl’s Drive-in circa 1958. I just wonder how great were the burgers? I am sort of like J. Wellington Wimpy or if you don’t get that reference I am like Theodore Francisco, I love burgers. (FPLA/CADL)
Things get a little odd here. With researching any person life there are inconsistencies; government documents are incorrect, newspapers accounts are unclear, people lie about their past, etc., but I have to tell you Carl Peak confuses me. Maybe I went down the wrong rabbit hole and I have the wrong Carl L. Peak? Carl Leo Peak was born in Cummings, Kansas on March 11, 1914. Carl married Miss Ruth Opal Congrove, with whom he had five children, Ruth, Carol, Doris, Alice and Jean Peak. Ruth and Carl divorced in in January 1947, with Carl ordered to pay $20 a week in child support. Ruth passed away just nine months later on October 16, 1947 from an asthma attack, she was 31. (St. Joseph Gazette [St. Joseph, Missouri] 10/18/1947) Charles married Hazel Jean Taylor on August 23, 1947 in Nevada, Missouri, the couple relocated to Lansing where Carl worked as a truck driver and a mechanic before opening Carl’s Drive-in, which he did in 1957. Charles and Hazel divorced on November 16, 1951. Carl may have married again in June of 1962, a marriage licenses was issued to Carl L. Peak, 47, Kansas City, Kansas and Willa L. Robinson, 31, Kansas City, Missouri. What does this mean to our story? Not much. What is interesting is that the two other marriages are not mention in Carl’s obituary, only Ruth is named. After the restaurant was sold Carl worked as a truck driver, traveling throughout the Midwest. He passed away in Horton, Kansas on December 2, 1992. (St. Joseph Gazette [St. Joseph, Missouri] 12/3/1992)
Ok back to the story, well Carl’s Drive-in existed until 1959, when it was sold J.D. Cooper who renamed the business Arky’s Drive-in. The building was torn down in 1965 and replaced with the current structure that is bland piece of work, sorry no other description fits.
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