Thread Number: 547
Thor POD 11-18-04 Mc Cormick Place I it has to be...
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Post# 49489   11/19/2004 at 07:08 (7,085 days old) by programcomputer (Ann Arbor Michigan, USA)        

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Years ago at the LOM (Library Of Michigan), I stumbled quite by accident onto a book called the "Housewares Story". This book published in 1976-77 was a history of the AHAMA- "American Home Appliance Manufacturer's Association", and how it was started in 1940 by members of the Home Appliance Industry.

A woman whom was concerned about the progress of the industry, a tremendous woman by the name of Flo English was infulential in getting things together with all the different manufacturers in creating "like an auto salon" a place for them to display their new wares and create a sense of opportunity for dealers and consumers alike to see all of them and so forth.

I have a point here but I wanna explain this book...cause it has something to do with the POD.

Flo English originally got the thing started for the 1940 appliance year and was initially set in Atlantic City at a super old pavillion on the water. It quickly became undersized by 1949-50 so a new place was searched for and one was in Chicago... becasue in order for progress, and so many mfg. wanted in on the new trade show it had to be found.

About this same time in the early 1950's Chicago became home of the new McCormick Place I on the lower east Lake Michigan Waterfront off of upper/lower Wacker Drive.

It was moved there starting in 1950 ( about the year that this POD seems from) and apparantly this is from the building becasue the book is CHOCKED full of pictures inside and different manufacturers pictures are displayed prominently thruought the book. I can tell by the huge high ceilings and the recessed lighting...the book is full of visual aides and I would be suprised if I was so wrong...


It gives the history of MANY mfg's....thru 1976-77 and even tells how many of them left the buisness when the book ends about 1976-7. In fact this is the book that says that Shetland-Lewyt, General Electric, and others had given up on vacuum cleaners in the past previous few years.

Anyway...there are pic's from different decades, and has WONDERFUL insight of the fated January 1967 Housewares EXPO that was totally destroyed Mc Cormick Place I and every square inch of blaze in the early morning hours of it's opening day. It also states how Melville Bissell II and Fred Maytag II and other prominent dignitaries from the powerhouses of the industry at that time... rushed to Chicago the next day and set up a temporary EXPO in halls in hotels so the 1967 show could go on.

The start of the fire, and what happened?...a careless helper doing some last minute work about 1 am, was still working and flicked a cigarette and it diddn't make it into the ashtray.

It caught the carpet on fire and eventually the entire building was ablaze. Unfortunatly being as close to water as it was, and the fact that it had it's OWN PRIVATE pumping station which they COULD NOT get to work at all, and the fact that Lake Michigan was REALLY frozen solid that year.... made it horrendously impossible to stop it. Even a night watchman who called fire fighters to the scene were too late becasue by then with all the flammable materials and so forth...the place was a inferno...

It was said in the book that you could see it from Gary Indiana with further claims that it took more than two days to completly extinguish the blaze...

It went on to say that McCormick place was a total loss but Chicago got right on the ball and a new Mc Cormick Place II Was ready and in place in less than a year, was twice as large and from the air, as MP I looks like a HUGE cargo flight deck...and was ready....just barely for the January 1968...expo in the brand new center.

The pod completely jogged my memory about this book and I know it's still there seeing it in the stacks less than six-months ago.....IT"S FABBO all around, and VERY MUCH worth the read!!! And if any of you can find this volume at your state library or can find a copy for your own personal will have found something that is about as complete as finding a compete with all the attachments Automagic Thor as seen in the picture at Chicago's famous McCormick Place I...

I went there BTW in 1999 driving three hours thru hell and snow to go there and got thr one of three floors. I was awed but soo had to get back to home and never have been back. If any of you can get to that expo and can spend a few days looking the withal will have seen the greatest appliance show on earth...


Post# 49491 , Reply# 1   11/19/2004 at 07:24 (7,085 days old) by programcomputer (Ann Arbor Michigan, USA)        
I could be a tad off tho....

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It could have started there earlier becasue this picture states 1949....? This has to be the building...becasue it was in 1948 that they started looking for a new place to hold the AHAMA.....

Anyone else know some hist. about the appliance show there in Chicago????

Post# 49521 , Reply# 2   11/19/2004 at 16:56 (7,084 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Great history there - wouldn't you love to blink back in time to attend this show? And snatch all those clear demonstrator machines!!

The POD was a trade-show in Kansas City, MO from 1949. I have a few more of these pictures and having spent many a Christmas holiday in KC pouring over the phone book appliance store ads ;-) recognize some of the distributors and retailers. KC was a much larger city and had the best yellow page ads - many illustrations of washers and dryers. I've always wondered if my aunt & uncle ever discovered some of the pages had holes in them...

Post# 49544 , Reply# 3   11/19/2004 at 21:07 (7,084 days old) by Gyrafoam (Wytheville, VA)        

As a child there were two friends of my parents who had Thor machines like those automatics shown. I remember them well. Strangely, when turned on they immediatly started to agitate without any water in the tub at all---it started comming in, but took a while to get up to a full tub. In retrospect it had to do serious fabric damage over time.

Post# 49553 , Reply# 4   11/19/2004 at 22:35 (7,084 days old) by tlee618 ()        

Hi Chad, That would sure be a wonderful book to get your hands on. If anyone has a copy it might be worth a reprint. Do you have any idea when they hold this show in Chicago and if anyone can attend. I always thought that you had to be a dealer to get in. Any information would be great. Thanks Terry

Post# 49554 , Reply# 5   11/20/2004 at 00:07 (7,084 days old) by jmirawm (Barling Arkansas)        
The Housewares Story

Very cool history lesson Chad ! Found some used books at Thought I would share.....I am definitely gonna order one! I looked at other sites also. I am hoping that this is the same book. It should be.


Post# 49555 , Reply# 6   11/20/2004 at 00:12 (7,084 days old) by jmirawm (Barling Arkansas)        

Here is a link to AHAM


Post# 49558 , Reply# 7   11/20/2004 at 03:19 (7,084 days old) by programcomputer (Ann Arbor Michigan, USA)        
And that IS the author...Earl Lifshey

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I just loved this book so much.....

I cannot tell you the information that I myself just gleaned from it. Im suprised as I said that it wasn't McCormick Place I as i was hoping, but like auto shows...I'm sure that they were held all over just like the auto-salons and Motorama's of the same vintage.

It is my understanding that anyone can get in. I never had any trouble when i went a few years back and all I worked for was a appliance reconditioner buisness who at that point dealt with only NEW vacuum cleaners.

I love the fact that you all went on a hunt to find the copies of this book. I actually will be looking into a copy for myself. Some of you may not get the same "tingly sensation" as did I that fateful day almost a decade ago as I read intently the text and photo's within.

The book, while put together well, focuses mainly on the small applaince in many cases there were fifteen small appliance producers with only five to ten major appliance producers. I know that there was a section on laundry stuff, but it was all basic Maytag fare with a few breif sidenotes of other manufactures including:

Easy, Hotpoint, GE, Whirlpool, Kelvinator, Westinghouse and etc.

Anyway...for those who again want a read that shouldn't be missed, and the knowledge you will gain for your own self...this is a must have...

Thanks Again...


Post# 49559 , Reply# 8   11/20/2004 at 03:49 (7,084 days old) by programcomputer (Ann Arbor Michigan, USA)        
Heres the aftermath of the 1967 Mcormick Place Fire

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This is what was left of the building.....

Post# 49567 , Reply# 9   11/20/2004 at 07:45 (7,084 days old) by jmirawm (Barling Arkansas)        

Can you imagine being the guy that flicked his cigarette and did this ? He was NOT having a good day ! Thanks For the pic Chad.

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