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Opinion

Relocation of TV museum to Bomb Shelter all set

5/1/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

The TV Dinner Club Museum has moved to the Akron surplus store the Bomb Shelter.
Photo: Craig Marks
On April 25, the Akron surplus store the Bomb Shelter hosted a party featuring more than a dozen classic TV sets. The reception was quite good.

The occasion was the grand re-opening of David Blewette’s TV Dinner Club Museum, which now will be housed in the Bomb Shelter. Along with the vintage sets, other TV-related items were on display, including lunch boxes of old shows (“The Brady Bunch,” “Emergency,” “Space: 1999”) and a pith helmet worn by WAKR-TV kiddie-show host Professor Jack. Unlike the other items in the Bomb Shelter, the museum items are not for sale.

For many years, Blewette’s collection of TVs and memorabilia could be found on South Main Street, where it shared space with his Grandmother’s Video production company. Changes in downtown forced Blewette to relocate and eventually place the collection in storage.

That’s when the Bomb Shelter, owned by Kevin Royer and Damon Drummond, stepped in and offered Blewette a permanent home for his collection. The store, which is 12,000 square feet of stuff that time forgot (old Coke dispensers, vinyl records, old slide projectors), seemed like a good fit for Blewette’s pieces.

“I think the older TVs are really neat, and it would be nice for the younger generation to be exposed to a time when not everything was on an iPhone,” said Royer.

Samantha Pixler, 10, of Akron, was asked to imagine life when there was no YouTube or Netflix and only a handful of channels to watch.

“It would be boring,” she said, perceptively.

For some attending the event, the old TVs released a flood of memories. Cindy Stefanik, of Akron, recalled having a TV with a swan lamp on top, like the one on top of the 1949 Crosley Suitcase Portable on display.

“I don’t know why it’s there, but I like it,” she said of the swan.

Judy McLaughlin, of Ashland, was keeping an eye out for the Zenith set her family had in 1952. She called Blewette’s collection “incredible.”

While taking in the exhibit, Bob Ferguson, of Akron, reminisced about the fun he had in the days when TVs had knobs.

“The awesome thing I would do as a kid was to play with the tint and contrast so that it would freeze an image right on the cathode ray for a while in a very dark room,” he said.

It was those kinds of activities that kept TV repairmen busy. Blewette’s museum remembers the old tube technicians with a 1950s cardboard display listing the serviceman’s code of ethics. (“Use reliable test equipment.” “Itemize all bills.” “Protect customers’ property.”) The display would appear in stores to commemorate National Television Servicemen’s Week, a yearly tribute to repairmen that began in 1955.

“They really promoted it,” said Blewette. “They went to New York City and talked about being a good repairman.”

If they only knew that someday they’d be referred to as the Geek Squad.

The grand re-opening event was a benefit for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and PAWSibilities®, Humane Society of Greater Akron. For more on the Bomb Shelter, including store hours and directions, go to www.thebombshelterstore.com.

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