Meet Wayne McGinnis, of McGinnis Radio & TV, who has been providing sales and service of radio and television from 1944 through 2017, including consulting work. The story is quite interesting. McGinnis was 18 years old, newly married, and by chance happened to drive through Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Their trip started at home in Fall River, Kansas, and was supposed to end in Seminole, Oklahoma. However, he and his wife, Lois decided to stop for lunch when they saw the sign ‘Hurds Café’, 205 E. Third Street (which is now called Frank Phillips Boulevard), and stopped to eat. Wayne noticed a small radio shop next door, Snead’s Home & Auto Service. After lunch, he walked over and the first words out of his mouth were ‘can I buy this business?’ After the employee contacted the owner, who lived in Tulsa, the answer was yes. Although the McGinnis couple never made it to Seminole, they found a new city to live in, and a new business to own.
They made a few sacrifices in the beginning. One sacrifice was to live in the back of the store to save money, so they moved from an apartment they had been living in, and resorted to cooking food on a two-burner hot plate mounted on an orange crate. It wasn’t so bad. Crystal Ice Company brought ice for their ice box. Then two children were born, Jim and Kenneth, who grew up playing on Main Street, with Johnstone Park, an idyllic playground, just a few blocks away. McGinnis methodically saved money until in 1949 they purchased a home, and along came their third child, Louise.
And even though many had said they would ‘never make it’, they stayed at this location at 207 East Third Street for 30 years! Then, next door the Bartlesville Pharmacy quit business, and they moved into that space for 15 years. McGinnis’ business evolved with the computer age, and besides selling and repairing computers, he custom built his own, under the logo Wemco. Business was good. His son-in-law, Russell Maddock, married to their daughter Louise, operated Wemco, which was next door to McGinnis TV. Then in 1991 the two businesses had outgrown their downtown address, and they moved to Nowata Place (at the corner of Silver Lake and Nowata Road), which became the new home of Wemco and McGinnis TV. They stayed in this location until their retirement in 1997. “Lois was half the success story, she was beside me all the way, she was the bookkeeper and helped run the daily activities. We were a team”, adds McGinnis.
However, McGinnis never actually retired! He just changed location! As of today, January 29, 2017, he still repairs vintage radios and televisions. While I was at his home for this interview, he was waiting for a Tulsa man to come pick up a completed order, and was going to be given more radios for repair. As you can see in the videos, he moved the entire inventory of his shops to a house in downtown Bartlesville. Every room is packed with 220 vintage radios, televisions, a huge Wurlitzer jukebox, thousands of trade books and manuals, in addition to thousands of radio/tv tubes. Each room is like stepping back in time, and the house/garage is a treasure trove of ‘the way it used to be’. At his actual home, he has a garage in the back where he stores his Piper plane, and aviation tools and parts. Quite impressive! Especially since he is the one who repairs and renovates the plane himself. And inside his home, downstairs, are the hundreds of negatives and pictures that he and his son-in-law, Russell Maddock, have taken and stored, many were developed in his own darkroom. I was really impressed when McGinnis opened his original cedar chest and showed me all of the dozens of newspaper stories and articles from the years they spent in the Civil Air Patrol. Lois was quite faithful to save all of their memorabilia, tucked away for safe keeping.
A LIFETIME OF FLYING
McGinnis was bitten by the flying bug not long after coming to Bartlesville. He purchased his own plane, a 4-seater 1951 Piper Pacer PA-20, shown below. He is proud of the fact that when Charles Ewers was 12 years old, Wayne took him on his first flight. Ewers eventually became the chief pilot for Phillips Petroleum Company. He is also proud that he and Lois became lieutenant colonels in the Civil Air Patrol (an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force), at one time located in Bartlesville. They volunteered their time, and as squadron commander for 15 years, Mr. McGinnis searched for downed planes and checked the area after tornadoes. He is now preparing his grandson, Thor, to take over the Piper, a plane that the family enjoyed flying to New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, and many places throughout America.
Above page from Literally Speaking Bartlesville! Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1988
Photo for Bosses Breakfast event, Sunday, April 13, 1958, Examiner-Enterprise newspaper.
Not too many people can hold on to their past inventory for 72 years, while integrating it with today’s technology. But to McGinnis, it is easy. On August 6, he will celebrate his 93rd birthday. I can only hope when I reach that milestone, that I can be half as active and knowledgeable as electronics wizard/pioneer, Wayne McGinnis!
A sad side note: Lois McGinnis left this world December 8, 2015. She is greatly missed by her loving family, and many in the community!
Video from the 50s was sent to me from Jerry McSpadden that his father, Mac McSpadden, filmed of the McGinnis airplane. Mac worked at Otasco, and won a ‘movie camera’, which was fairly rare back in the day. As a result, Bartians can see a lot of the town history. Thanks again, Jerry!