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Historic Cairo

The Hamburger Wagon

    From the late 1920's until the late 70's, the "food wagon" could be seen around town. The wagon and two others were originally built by a Mr. Dupoister and all three were sold later to Hammond Matthews. Eventually, Mr. Matthews sold two of the wagons...one to Georgia and the other to Sikeston, MO. Mrs. Dewey Hornberger, Mr. Matthews' daughter, inherited the wagon which was built around a 1923 Model-T truck. She later sold it to the Cairo Chamber of Commerce. For years, the wagon was unused and neglected. Cairoite, Frank McGinnis, found the wagon in a junk yard and began dismantling it hoping to restore it to it's originality. He became ill before he could finish the project and the wagon gradually deteriorated from sitting outside. Meanwhile, Bill Kelly and his son, Ron, of Goreville, Illinois, remembered the wagon and were trying to locate it. The elder Kelly had been restoring vehicles since 1962 and had some of his restored car collection on display in his front yard when a man from Cairo stopped to take a look at them. While talking with Mr. Kelley, the wagon was mentioned and the Cairo man told him he knew exactly where the wagon was. Mr. Kelley headed for Cairo and brought home the wagon in pieces. The Kelleys and Bill's brother-in-law, Leo Parks, took on the task of restoring this historical piece to its original condition. Some of the metal pieces had to be rebuilt as well as some parts that had totally disappeared. Parts were located in antique shops and flea markets and the "jigsaw puzzle" began to take shape. Restored to pristine condition by the dedicated three over a one-year period, the wagon was appraised at $15,000. Kelly then offered the restored wagon to the City of Cairo for only $7,500 even though he had much more in it. Visitors of Cairo can view the "hamburger wagon" at the Customs House Museum where it has found a resting place.

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