Radio Hoard Found in an Old Midwest Gas Station

This is radio version of farm to table!


I get offers to buy radios practically every day. This one came last year from a guy out in Alpha, IL. The owner has been collecting radios in his shop for years. Here's one the pictures I received:



I had a great time with Ed at his shop, Barton's Auto Body in Alpha. I 'd like to tell you a little about my trip. Alpha, IL is a bread basket Midwestern town. Ed said he'd been accumulating these radios for over 20 years. There were all different manufacturers and models from all periods and and different styles.

He told me folks would bring old radios to the shop between the 80s and 90s. It was by word of mouth that folks would drop off an old radio. The collection grew organically over a quarter century. Presumably local, many of these radios came from farming households between Davenport-IA, Moline-IL, and Peoria-IL.

We played email tag over the holidays until February when I flew into Chicago and rented a truck to drive out. I was excited to see this collection.


Here's the video once I arrived.

Here's some pictures once loaded into the cargo van:








Ed said he did not seek out on any particular type of radio. He did not refuse any type of radio that was brought to him. He did not repair or restore any of these radios. He said he just liked them.

So this is the radio collection you would get if you only sourced locally from an area that has been synonymous with mainstream USA. And, this is before Ebay, Facebook, and the Internet.


How does this collection speak to you?

What are your conclusions based on the models you see?


Here are my observations from more obvious to less so,

10. Relatively even distribution of models from different periods. 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and even some 70s. But, mostly 40s and 50s.

9. Conservative color choices. I asked whether he purposely turned away pinks and turquoises and seafoams. He said he did not. Is this a Midwestern aesthetic?

8. More Midwest based brands Wards Airline, Sears Silvertone, Zenith, and Motorola. Fewer coast based brands; Emerson, GE and RCA. Not surprising (buy local).

7. No consoles. This collection was maintained in place of business so no space for consoles.

6. More portables than usual. Not sure why. Maybe because not everyone had a need for multiple radios per household back in the day? Or, probably because reception was iffy and that's why portables were more practical?

5. IN THE WILD. These radios were not exchanged between radio collectors at swap meets or over the Internet. Probably one garage sale or two between Ed and its original owners.

4. Not repainted. No stickers. Maybe radios grew old with original owners. Younger people who receive handed down radios sometimes left their signs. They tended to repaint.

3.  A lot of these radios were maintained by professional radio and TV repair shops. Evidenced by stickers and stamps of different repair shops in the area. Differing from original manufacturer branded vacuum tubes shows that for a while at least, these radios were used regularly and serviced when requiring tubes to be replaced.

2. Good condition. Very few of these were cracked, modified, or abused. Shows people took care of their possessions and these radios stayed close to home. Moving around means death to old radios.

1. DIRT. The dirt says it all. Not obvious until you disassemble, but speaks volumes on the radio and a predicts needed repairs. I've started a webpage at this site to chronicle dirt, in all its forms, and to expose interesting discoveries I have made.

Here's the moment you've all been waiting for...



Top Ten Fun Facts About Alpha, IL:

10. Founded in 1872 as a railroad town.

9. Named after the first letter of the Greek alphabet in hopes of it becoming a great city (which it has).

8. It has a population of about 700 people and 300 households.

7. Not surprisingly, the village's main industry is agriculture.

6. The Village of Alpha recently celebrated their sesquicentennial (150 yrs). Yeah Alpha!

5. From Village of Alpha Facebook page. This puppy was recently found abandoned. He was taken to Henry Country Animal Control. From the looks of him, it looks like he was found in a nick of time.

4. Alpha, IL hosts an annual car show. Ed is a big player in this village event! Pretty decent one too, from the looks of it:

 Photo credit: Facebook page Alpha IL

3. Here's a picture of Alpha Village Town Hall:

 Photo credit: Alpha website


2. Here's what Alpha Village website says about Alpha in their own words, which I am in no position to argue:

Alpha is an attractive and friendly community that maintains the simple pleasures of rural living, pride of place, and an emphasis on diversity and opportunity for all ages while making a positive impact for future generations.

1. In the early 80s, Hollywood director Barry Levinson looked at Alpha's railroad car diner as a possible location for filming scenes for his 1982 film, Diner. (Tagged as uncited by Wikipedia)


Go Aces!

I hope you all visit the little towns in your area, you might discover something that warms your heart!


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