Bob Mullen, who parlayed his massive collection of gas-station and other old-time memorabilia into Bob’s Gasoline Alley for about 20 years near Cuba, Missouri, died suddenly at his home Sunday night. He was 67.
Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 7057 Old 66, in Cuba. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus. Interment and prayers will follow at Kinder Cemetery in Cuba, also on Route 66. His full obituary, which is worth reading, is here.
Bob’s Gasoline Alley is at 822 Beamer Lane west of Cuba, sandwiched between Interstate 44 and old Route 66.
Rural Missouri magazine interviewed Mullen in 2016:
“It all started with cookie jars. My wife, Darlene, and I started collecting them together before we got married in 1994. We have hundreds of them. This, though? All of this wasn’t planned. It just happened. I enjoy showing it off.”
The couple’s garage soon became a repository for other items that caught Bob’s eye. First, it was a Budweiser bar mirror adorned with wild turkeys. Then, it was an old filling station sign. Then another. And another. Before long, there was no longer any room in the garage for the cars, and Bob didn’t fight it. The garage doors came down and the room was finished off to house the burgeoning collection.
Soon, the old cattle barn on the property would undergo a transformation. Gone was the dirt floor, covered by concrete. The new walls quickly were plastered with more memorabilia as a jukebox filled the air with tunes that topped the hit parade in the 1950s.
The Mullens didn’t stop there. A two-story addition was constructed on the back of the barn, only to be followed by yet another two-story building on the other side of their home. As the Gasoline Alley footprint has grown, so too has its visibility from Interstate 44. Many take the next exit and circle back to figure out exactly what they’re seeing.
The Mullens opened the venue by appointment only for a small fee per person.
Bob’s Gasoline Alley offered sumptuous meals to groups that have included pork roast, chicken Alfredo, green beans, butter potatoes and homemade desserts for another fee. The facility holds up to 200 people.
“We’re not feeding people hot dogs and hamburgers,” Mullen told the magazine.
Don Mizell told a story about Mullen last June:
Fourteen years ago we moved to Cuba. On day one, I was standing at the door working a visitation … opened the door for Bob, he looked at me and said “I understand there’s some new Undertakers in town.” He then proceeded to feed me a line of Bob Mullen “BS”, in which I instantly gave it right back to him. … He shook my hand and said “I see we’re going to get along just fine.”
Mizell owns the funeral home in Cuba that is presiding over Mullen’s services.
(Image of Bob Mullen via Mizell Funeral Home; an image of Bob’s Gasoline Alley near Cuba, Missouri, in 2013 by Jim Rhodes via Flickr)