Saturday, July 03, 2021

Walking the barber's chair to a new home

I call this image, taken late yesterday afternoon, "Exercising the Barber's Chair," although the three Lucas County Historical Society board members who are moving it got the cardio benefits. They are (from left) Jim Secor, Mike Smith and Nash Cox. Kathleen Dittmer, office manager, is walking alongside.

We'd decided months ago to do some rearranging at the museum, moving the barber-beauty shop display from the Vredenburg Gallery on the main floor of the Lewis Building to the Mine Gallery, directly below it. 

That's more complicated than it sounds because barber's chairs are extraordinarily heavy and there was no way any number of people would be able to maneuver that beast safely down the stairs. So it had to come out of the building, into the parking lot, down the driveway to the patio, and then back in.

We'd waited until our veteran intern, Karoline Dittmer, came home on an early summer break from her PhD program at the University of Illinois-Chicago to make the move. And then disaster struck. As noted previously, the pedestrian door from the patio into the lower level of the Lewis Building was crushed in a vehicular accident and the big overhead door alongside, sprung.

Among the problems that created was the fact the museum's 1929 Model-A is displayed, when not out and driving around, in the Mine Gallery and it was due to appear in Sunday's 4th of July parade.

So we decided to try raising the overhead door into the Mine Gallery --- just once --- thus freeing the Model A from captivity and allowing the barber-beauty shop move. The time arrived late yesterday afternoon with board members Jim Secor, Nash Cox, Mike Smith and Kylie Dittmer, Karoline, Office Manager Kathleen Dittmer and myself on hand. Here's how in went:

1. The door was successfully raised most of the way, the Model A driven out and eventually moved into the Swanson Gallery next door, where it will remain until the south wall of the Mine Gallery is fixed. The late Dwight Thompson's 1938 Allis-Chalmers, ordinarily displayed in the Swanson Gallery, was moved across the patio into the Pioneer Barn. It, too, will be in Sunday's parade.

2. The barber's chair was rolled out of the Lewis Building, down the ramp, down the driveway and arrived in the Mine Gallery without incident. It then was joined by related artifacts, now partially installed.

3. The final phase of the operation involved moving the massive Hass desk from the front parlor of the A.J. Stephens House, where we'd installed it after A. Curt and Judie Hass donated it last June, into the Vredenburg Gallery space where the barber-beauty shop once had been. So the top of the desk was removed and carried around; the base, placed in a pickup and driven. Then it was carefully reassembled.

Considerable finishing work remains --- including repainting a portion of a Vredenburg Gallery wall --- but the heavy lifting is done, thanks to everyone involved.

The surprise came once the Hass desk arrived in the Vredenburg Gallery --- a gold watch that no one had known was inside the desk fell out. Is there a secret compartment everyone was unaware of? We'll have to take a closer look.

Kathleen called Curt Hass to share the news and now we're working on reuniting family and watch.

Look for our vehicles in Sunday's parade, which begins at 1 p.m. Board Member Helen Thompson will be driving the Allis-Chalmers, donated by herself and her children in memory of Dwight; Nash Cox will be at the wheel of the Model A.

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