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A lifetime of collecting produces a man cave of memories

Just off of Liberty Hall Road in Goose Creek sits an old garage with a gravel parking lot. The building stands out among those around it, it is covered in artwork of country roads and rolling hills and on a road sign the name is printed, “The Man Cave and Museum.”

The “Man Cave” as it is known by those who frequent it was the product of Dennis Barfield’s lifelong obsession with collecting. Barfield explains that it all began after he retired from the Navy and he opened Barfield Appliances. There he began to collect antique appliances.

“When I was in the appliance business I used to find old appliances and I would collect them,” Barfield said.

Barfield began collecting more than antique appliances as his life went on, everything from Coca-Cola memorabilia, lunch boxes, bottles from around the world, cars and everything in between. Once the collection grew so large Barfield decided to rent out extra space in order to house all of his items.

“I’ve always liked collecting stuff and when I retired in 1970 I decided to rent part of the building out and make me a man cave back here,” Barfield said.

Barfield said that he keeps all of the items in his man cave in order for other people to be able to look back and enjoy history.

“When people get older they will say, ‘I wish I saved that I wish I had this,’ or ‘I remember my grandfather used to have this or have that,” Barfield explained. “The reason I’m keeping all of it is cause I want people to look back in time and enjoy it.”

The man cave has always been about memories according to Barfield. Everything there has a place and everything has a story. Barfield has items from the service station he and his uncle used to frequent when he was a child, a wooden cart built by a friend who has moved away, an entire barbershop dedicated to preserving the memory of an old friend, an old country store counter and cash register for people to see history.

This collection has developed over Barfield’s many travels across the United States as a participant in the Great American Race, an event held every year where participants drive across the country. During the race Barfield said that he will often stop and look around at old antique shops and seek out new treasures.

“I like to go in antique shops and just look around,” Barfield explained.

Barfield’s main love has always been cars. He has collected cars since he was a child and got his first peddle cart. He now has a collection of antique cars and tractors in his man cave, one of which is a 1916 Studebaker which he drives now in the Great American Race.

“A friend of mine that I met on the race he had the Studebaker to run in the race, but he never got to run it because he died and the state auctioned it through the Great Race and I bought and we’ve been great racing for 15 years,” Barfield said.

Barfield said that collecting is something that he has done his entire life and he always will collect more and more antiques.

“My wife always says what am I going to do with all that junk you have in the man cave after you die I say, ‘I don’t know it’s not my problem,” Barfield said. “It’s just when you’re a collector you just collect and collect and eventally you die.”

In the end, Barfield said he never envisions the man cave being a museum that people will pay to see nor would he charge people to look around. He just wants it to be a reminder that life is not guaranteed but memories can last forever.

“Well you’ve got to enjoy life while you can cause you’re not going to be here many years and when people see the man cave they can think well my grandpa liked all this stuff and he left this for us to remember and enjoy,” Barfield said.