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Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Reagan

"There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. "
Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Reagan

IN THIS ISSUE

It Started It All  
(cont) by Mark Neeley 

When I disassembled the fan, I could not help but notice how well made this early electric desk fan was. Everything was cast iron, steel and brass. I could not believe that a utilitarian thing such as an old fan could be so well made or that it was actually, well, beautiful. I started checking around for information on where I could find some old cloth wrapped wire. I called a couple of antique stores asking if they knew of anyone that actually worked on old fans.  One store told me that they knew of a man who collected them and he had left some cards at their store. That man was the late Jim Moseley. Jim invited me over and said he would be happy to sell me some cloth wrapped wire. As we arrived at Jim’s house we shook hands and I described the fan that I had bought. My excitement and passion for this new project must have been written all over my face; because Jim looked at his wife and said “He has the fever” she laughed and said yes he does. Jim said let me show you something. He took us to his “fan” room, where there had to have been at least 150 fans or more on shelves. I was floored. What a bunch of cool fans. I had no idea they made this many different types of fans through the years. Jim had been collecting since the mid 1980s and had hit every flea market, antique store and yard sale he could to amass the collection that I was viewing. I looked at Jim’s fans, turned to him and said “this is great, but I just want to fix this one old G.E. fan and that’s it”. He laughed and said “I know, I know” as if he were reading some sort of crystal ball, he grinned like a Cheshire cat.  He cut some old appliance wire off of a spool and told me to get some dye to color the blue cord the color of my choosing. I asked him what I owed him and he said “nothing”. I thanked him and told him I would bring my fan over to show him when I was done. The meeting that day introduced me to a great man who became a great friend, a true one until the day that he died. Jim Moseley was not only a friend, but a mentor to me and I was truly blessed to get to know him so well.

Upon returning to the “restoration” (using the term loosely), I worked on removing the old finish, sanding and prepping the body of the fan to prepare it for its new paint job of Krylon Hunter Green, which was the closest paint I could find at the time to match the dark green that General Electric had painted the fan.  It was about this time that I realized this was very much like the work I use to enjoy during my teen years at Carroll’s shop. This old fan was like a miniature automobile. My restoration would take something old and dirty and turn it into something I could be proud of. After hours and hours of elbow grease, I finally painted the fan and reassembled it. For the brass blades, I used a polishing paste made to clean copper pans. During this time, I called Jim a few times and he guided me along on my restoration, encouraging me with each step that I took to bring this old GE fan back to life. Soon the fan was back together and running like “new”. I was so proud of my restoration that I took it over to show Jim and he politely said that I did a good job. There was another fan collector over at his house at the time and he replied “it looks good for a first time”. With my ego somewhat bruised, I left and decided that I would maybe keep an eye out for delinquent fans from time to time on our excursions to antique stores.

Not long after my GE restoration, I found another fan in Hillsboro, Texas and this one was brass blade too, but only $10.00 as it was in an old fashioned “junk” type store. It didn’t run and looked well made, but had a different name that read Emerson on the motor tag. A few months later in Joshua, Texas I found what I thought was a really early desk fan that used a yoke arrangement with two brass wing nuts to hold the motor in place. It was an Emerson too and this one was only $40.00. I called Jim with each find and he filled me in on what I had found. I kept telling him all along that I just wanted a few of them and that I would never have the type of collection that he had. See I only wanted to have a few to fix up and use and anyway, why would I ever need so many? I wasn’t a collector.  He would always reply with “I know, I know”.

So that is how it was in the beginning. I still have my very first fan and I have left it untouched from how I originally refinished it back in the day. The greatest thing about that first fan was that it introduced me to Jim and his lovely wife. He saw the passion in my eyes that I had yet to realize existed for these old air movers. I think Jim knew that he was meeting someone that would forge a greater relationship with old fans. He lived to see the founding of Vintagefans.com and during his last months alive he told me he wished he were going to be around to help me in the business. I wish he would have been too.

Thank you, Jim.

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