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Five miles north of Brownstown, on the southwest corner, stands a landmark familiar to Brownstown-Sefton people, but also to anyone who had to have their truck tested or who needed a mechanic.
Probably even more people ran into the building next door for grocery items, and it was surely a popular stop for kids on hot summer days to get a bottle of soda pop out of the icy-cold water in the old Coca-Cola cooler.
By now, the locals recognize the descriptions of “Red” Barker’s Garage and Barker’s Store.
To know the late “Red” Barker was a good and wholesome experience. He fought in World War II. He was right in the middle of the action and was a hero, although he would be the first to deny it.
He returned home in 1945 to operate his garage. The original garage was in a different location. and he later built the present building. He tested and inspected trucks for the state while doing mechanic work
He was a soft-spoken, gentle man, well-liked by everyone. He was always ready to lend a helping hand, and he did his share of pulling people’s vehicles out of the then-muddy roads.
The second generation, his daughter, Ruth Ann, helped her dad testing trucks and became as proficient it as he was over the years.
She has the same gentle, helpful and wholesome personality as her dad. She is well-known for helping others, going the extra mile to help someone. She has carried on the truck testing business for the state.
The third generation, Red’s granddaughter and Ruth Ann’s daughter. Crystal Stewart, has begun a new venture on the corner, utilizing a part of the garage, although that part is not recognizable as such.
While the venture, “The Cookie Shack,” is new, Crystal’s experience in baking is not. For years, she has baked and given cookies to others, as she possesses the same qualities as her grandpa and her mother.
Meet Crystal Stewart
Crystal said she has always liked to cook and bake, and attributes that to her Grandma Marie Barker (who lives next to the garage on the old store site). She has enjoyed even more giving her finished product to friends and neighbors.
Although she works four days a week at Fayette County Hospital as a rehab aide, she conceived the idea of opening her own bakery, specializing in cakes, cookies and cupcakes, and homemade breads.
Her specialties include carrot cake and German chocolate. She doesn’t make tiered wedding cakes, but does decorate cakes, cookies and cupcakes for any occasion.
Her bakery’s structure is an addition to the garage on the north end of the building. Part of it is over where the racks used for the vehicles were located.
With the help of her dad, Tom Stewart, and her family, the space has wondrously been turned into a quaint, unique and pretty bakery, with a front entrance that makes the customer feel like he or she has stepped into grandma’s house.
It has a front porch and shutters at the windows, and the front room has a fireplace and inviting wooden rocking chairs. Old-style cabinets and cupboards help add to the atmosphere.
The refinished old water cooler that held the soda pop in Grandma Barker’s grocery store sits just inside the door.
“The counter top on the cooler is made from an old door from Grandma’s house. My dad refinished it,” she said. The counter top on which her cash register and telephone sit, is beautifully finished and smooth.
The room holds a glass case for the baked items, but all other furniture and decor is vintage, adding charm to the room.
Some of her furnishings and decor were gifts from family and friends.
She explained one of the old cabinets. “My Grandma Stewart gave my sister and me money to buy what we wanted. I bought that cabinet because it reminded me of her,” she said.
The kitchen is streamlined, with new, up-to-date appliances and everything required to qualify for licenses and permits, which are displayed on top of the old cabinet. The worktable held cookies in the shapes of butterflies, monkeys, and round cookies waiting to be decorated.
Also on hand were camouflaged-decorated cupcakes and cookies for young nephews’ birthdays. The cookies were iced and decorated with the ages and initials of the boys.
Her bakery shop is unique, interesting and pretty, and the atmosphere is friendly, like Grandma’s kitchen. In fact, Daniel Hall, who had just had his truck inspected, was invited into the bakery by Ruth Ann, for a free cupcake.
The Bakery that Love Built.
“The window frames are from Grandma’s house,” Crystal said. “The house is no longer there.”
The Cookie Shack is friend- and family-oriented. Family and friends helped with construction and wanted to help with gifts to furnish the front entrance. Everyone who enters becomes a friend.
Crystal is a quiet and unassuming person. Although she has a friendly smile for all, she is a rather quiet person.
Because she works four days a week, she asks that customers call her for appointments, 427-2213 or 427-2214.