Day 1: April 29, 2011
A Short Day
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This is the only metal whistle manufacturer in the US. I learned of its existence from Australians Kathryn and Darren Sloan who "discovered" it when they were visiting Columbus a couple of years ago. You may have noticed that the American Whistle Company shares a building and I can attest to it being the smaller of the two tenants. That red canopied front door isn't its. Its entrance is on the side; towards the rear. Groups of fifteen or more can schedule their own tour. Smaller groups -- like me -- have to get added to a scheduled tour but that isn't very hard to do. I had my choice of two tours today and, while not every day is that busy, two tour days are not all that rare, either.

When Ray Giesse purchased the company in 1987, it was about to close its doors. It now produces about a million whistles a year. Like its product and its building, American Whistle's staff is small. All those whistles are made by eight employees and that includes Ray and his wife. Ray conducts the tours himself and you soon learn that saving failing companies isn't his only talent. He's a pretty good comedian, too. That's Ray in the third picture with a 24K gold plated whistle like those presented to Super Bowl referees since 1991. No photos are permitted of the actual manufacturing process which is a wild mix that ranges from some machines from the company's 1956 founding to a high-tech custom built mechanism that does all the soldering automatically. Ray says that one machine cost him more than the whole company did originally. Tours exit through the small gift shop where everybody receives an American Classic.

Even though the street changes names along the way, Roadhouse 66 is literally about two thirds of a mile up the road from the factory. Of course I had to stop in to catch up on things with owner David Wickline and (Are you ready?) wet my whistle.

Since there was so little to show today, I've decided to include a picture of the new car and, thanks to a restaurant adjacent to the motel, I am able to do it in a manner that requires no captioning. Then there's that brand new souvenir. Can you hear me now?

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