The Device that Jack Built
You probably have at least one item in your garage that is cherished more than all the other dust collectors and bank account busters displayed on the floor, shelves, walls and ceilings of your Garage Style stable. For me that honor is held by somethingbthat was created by the late Jack Mann, a proud resident of Everett, Washington and my grandfather.
Grandpa Mann, in my eyes, was as cool as it was possible for any guy to be, related or not. He was an entrepreneur that over his lifetime had various careers that included being the leader of a traveling dance band, a General Gasoline station owner & operator, the proprietor of perhaps the Northwest’s smallest exotic animal zoo (featuring a tortoise, an alligator and a bear), and the owner of two barbershops where he helped the local male population keep looking sharp. His most successful establishment was the Dog House Tavern, one of Everett’s oldest dispensaries of food and alcoholic beverages.
Grandpa was always looking for new ways to fill the cash registers in his places of business. He painted large beer bottle delivery cases to be sold as storage containers. He used various sized jars affixed to rotating cylinders for visible and easy access to anything small enough to fit into the jars. He designed a contraption to turn black & white televisions into “color” by attaching a transparent plastic sheet to the front of the set. It was nicely trimmed in wood and worked great as long as you enjoyed watching every TV show with the screen equally divided into three large horizontal bars of blue, yellow and green. No doubt Milton Berle and Groucho Marx both looked even better in those vibrant colors.
The prized possession in my garage is grandpa’s INDICATING DEVICE OF MILES & POPULATION. It was a creation that informed the user of how many miles he or she was from Everett to various locations as widespread as Vancouver, British Columbia (116 miles) and Tijuana, Mexico (1436 miles). Along with the distance shown were the populations of these cities. The one exception is Tijuana, without a number of residents listed, but Vancouver was a thriving city of 246,592 people.
The “DEVICE” is a flat wooden disc that is held vertically between two flat pieces of wood. This combination is attached to a wooden stand that allows the disc to be turned so that one side can be seen and then spun around to see the other side. The moneymaker was what was painted upon the disc, the flat pieces of wood and the stand.
Grandpa contacted business owners offering them the opportunity of advertising on the Indicating Device. The 18 businesses hand painted on the spinning disc now residing in my garage indicates that he had some level of success. The businesses advertising were asked to pay a monthly fee, and additional Indicating Devices were to be made with different advertisers shown. His plan was to get as many establishments to display his countertop invention as possible. I do not know how many were made, but the one shown here is probably the prototype. The photo was shot in the Dog House Tavern, with my grandfather demonstrating the amazing Indicating Device to either a prospect or patron of his establishment.
Adding to the appeal is that the Follestad Nash Company, the Simpson & Evans’ Ford/Mercury/Lincoln dealership, and Dolloff’s Wrecker chose to take advantage of this original advertising opportunity. The phone numbers listed indicate that the Indicating Device was made sometime in the 1940s. It seems appropriate that this creation is displayed in my garage on the top of a 1946 Zenith radio, with grandpa’s device demonstration photo behind.
It’s the biggest smile maker in my garage and one of the best conversation starters when guests stop by.
What’s in your garage?
- Lance Lambert
GSM has temporarily suspended printing the magazine. In the coming months, we will return with a digital platform. The hope is, GSM will resume printing in the near future, but meanwhile, we look forward to bringing you the new digital version soon! Thank you!”