Tea Cups or Trailer Balls?
"They weren't. There's an auction up at Grants Pass this evening. They have a couple of radios. Would you like to go?"
Would I like to go- yeah! The trip from Eagle Point to Grants Pass--a small, former logging community to the northwest--happened to be one of my favorite drives. The road meandered along the Rogue River through pine, oak and manzanita. I knew soon the scent of the trees--carried by the warmth of the summer evening--would be wafting through our open windows. The cool air cruising along the river, would provide a welcome relief from the triple digit temperatures we'd been experiencing on the R BAR S. We hopped in the truck and off we went.
We drove through the hamlet-sized, historical community of Gold Hill (link). Although named for a big hill that arose nearby, a mother lode of gold stirred interest in the area in 1860. Little remained of the once bustling place; a Ray's grocery store, Figaro pizza, hardware store, Mexican food restaurant , a post office and a few other small businesses now front the worn, two-lane road that rambles through town.
Onto I-5 North; soon we found ourselves in Grants Pass. We located the auction house, a short distance out of town, near the community college. A rather rambleshack old place; white paint had been slapped on the walls, but it seemed to be molting away. The reddish-brown, roof tiles appeared to be executing a slow dance off the roof. A variety of tall grass and weeds surrounded the establishment. More weeds sprung from cracks in the parking lot's pavement. Various items--that appeared to have been abandoned years ago--surrounded the entrance.
Upon entering the building we encountered a table. Behind it sat two women- their faces red and bathed in moisture. A fan droned in the background. We were assigned a number and given a 6"x9" piece of white cardboard--with that number scribbled on it with a black magic marker. We were then told it would be necessary to pay a 5% buyer's fee; only cash or approved local check would be accepted. We continued left, into the seating area. The fun was about to begin.
The room had been divided into two halves. Front center, facing forward, sat an old dark wood marred table. Atop it, a countertop podium rested in the center. Miscellany cluttered the remaining tabletop. To either side, and the back, sat stacks upon stacks of stuff in boxes piled high on the floor and shelves. The part of the room without shelves, had large pieces of furniture shoved up against the walls.
The other half of the room had seating facing toward the lectern. The first several rows were black stiff-back, wooden chairs. Behind them, were several rows of more comfortable looking attached padded seats. We opted to sit in the back row. Empty seats far outnumbered those taken; the triple-digit heat had kept people at home.
That's why, I couldn't figure out, with so many places to sit, why a women--toting her scruffy mongrel would decide to plop down right next to me. The theatre-type seating had the same uncomfortable feel as those on an airliner; a little bit too close for comfort. Maybe she needs a friend, I thought.
She introduced herself, and her dog, in a booming voice; the kind that would tend to make you believe she might be hard of hearing. "Buying stuff for a garage sale."
I shook my head in approval and smiled, while thinking, that's odd. While pondering why anyone would, dear little Miss. Sadie (the dog) made a flying leap toward my face and planted a sloppy kiss right on my lips. "I forget to tell you. Sadie likes to give kisses."
Yeech! I wiped my face on my sleeve as Sadie's "Mom" continued. "Last year...or maybe the year 'fore that, I bought a Pyrex casserole dish--kinda goldish-brown; had wheat stalks on it."
"Yeah?" I tried my darnest to sound interested.
"Yep. Got it for two bucks, sold it for five." A smile crept across her face, it extended from ear-to-ear. "Then... " she rambled on about other money-makers she'd found. All told, I figure she must have netted at least twenty-seven, twenty-eight bucks.
The P.A. system crackled. "Okay, we'd better get started." A burly looking guy--a dead-ringer for Jackie Gleason--leaned into the mike. He not only looked like Gleason, he sounded like Gleason. "I gotta sell some of this stuff. This place is stacked in." He made a wide sweeping movement with his hand. "This joint's full, the backroom, the warehouse...no where to put anything. Gotta get rid of a bunch of this small stuff."
Ohhh, no- I thought. While contemplating how long, "the small stuff" might take to get rid of, Miss. Sadie bounded across the chair to place another kiss directly onto my lips. Be strong, I thought. Like Grandma Paula say, "This too shall pass." I kept repeating that to my self while glaring at Sadie.
"Gimme five, five, five...do I hear three, gimme three..." Boxes upon boxes of an olio of things--from Sherpa faux-fur trimmed, red-and-brown plaid, doggie saddlebags to white plastic dish drainer sets--went up for bid. A few things actually got bid on. Mostly though, the overheated, non-buyers sat frozen in their chairs resembling Easter Island statues.
"Royal Dalton," the auctioneer proclaimed as he peeked under the china cup. He gave a slight tip of his head in approval. "Twenty..twenty..do I hear twenty...now fifteen, do I hear fifteen?" The exquisite Royal Dalton china cup sold for $2.00.
The animated master of ceremonies looked to his right. "Whadda we got?" he asked his approaching male assistant hawker.
"Balls." His cohort hoisted both of his hands above his head; each held an uncharacteristically, bright shining orb. "Chrome trailer hitch balls," he clarified.
"What size are they?" the entertaining auctioneer shot back. "Two inches?"
"Hell no, those gotta be at least two-and-three-quarters!"
The monoliths stirred, a bit of life returned to the room. Laughter spread across the spare crowd.
The moment had finally arrived. The assistant moved to the radio. Bidding began. Only Russ and one other party were bidding...and the competition wasn't interested enough to continue bidding. My mouth fell open. The radio was ours! It almost seemed surreal, after what it took to get to that point.
I wanted to give the pooch a smooch, right on her kisser. :)
Till next time,
ps. There was one other radio up for bid- a 1940's General Electric. Russ figured it would have been worth about ten dollars (for parts). The amazing thing is, it sold for more than the Westinghouse.
The Moral of the Story: If you're going to an auction, do your research before you go. Otherwise you may end up with a lemon, when you thought you had a rose.
These are valuable sets, the WR-8 in decent condition is a $350 +/- radio unrestored, the WR-8R (remote control version) I've seen go for much more in excellent unrestored condition.
Few things about these sets....
1- The clock almost always needs to be rebuilt, and from what I hear it is NOT an easy clock to rebuild. Movement is 100% unique, if its gone you will probably not be able to replace it. But if still there, they can be rebuilt if you can find a good clock expert. The clock in this radio is there and keeps good time. Most electric clocks have a sweep second hand. This one has a mechanism that makes it "tic" and move forward one second at a time. We will have to find a second hand.
2- Seems lots of the grandfather clock radios have had someone over the years take out the nonworking electric clocks to throw in small battery operated ones, or small mantle wind up movements.
3- The WR-8 had a plastic lens that covered the clock face. We will make a new lens for this one.. CORRECTION: The clock probably never had a cover due to the need to access the hands and the power fail timer.
4- The WR-8 had a cardboard back. We will try to locate a picture of one so a duplicate can be made.
5- The closest I can tell, the middle section of the front of the cabinet was finished with a maple toned lacquer while the rest was darker toned lacquer.
6- Most of the speakers have been damaged since they are mounted pointing up through the top. This one is entirely intact. The field coil is 1.347K ohms and the voice coil is 11 ohms.
Since The speaker was perfect, yah, I'm bragging, I moved on to the clock - the other part made of, well, solid money.
The mechanism is now working well including the 3 minute count down timer.
The face was in sad shape. as they all seem to be. I did some research. Several people had concluded that the face should be silver having cleaned all of the paint off with Tarnex. Sorry , but I have to say it - WELL- DUH! Unpainted metal is silver. So I don't think that is the answer.
I took a close look at the face of my clock and noticed around the edges, where the trim had blocked the light, the color was bronze. The antique white, what is left of it, seems to be the color of the primer. It is the color of the back side of the clock face as well.