EAST LIVERPOOL - A pottery kiln display in front of the Hot Dog Shoppe here has become quite a conversation piece, which is the intent of Hot Dog Shoppe owner Ray Trevelline.
Trevelline got help from a friend, George Summers to create the kiln display at the corner of the Hot Dog Shoppe parking lot. After some trial and error sessions, Summers created a mechanism using the bearings from a ceiling fan for the windmill top made of Fiesta dinnerware plates.
"I just like to fool with everything," said Summers. "Ray had this idea, and my brother told him I was a tinkerer, so here I am."
George Summers and Hot Dog Shoppe owner Ray Trevelline stand by the pottery kiln display Summers created using Fiesta dinnerware plates from the Homer Laughlin China Co. in Newell, W.Va. (Photo by Nancy Tullis)
Trevelline said he just wanted to find a way to keep the region's rich pottery history on everyone's minds, and to start conversations about it with locals and visitors alike. Many people don't know about the pottery landmark and the kiln on Second Street, he said.
He said he had the idea to use 9-inch Fiesta plates to make a windmill, but had no idea how to do it. Summers did.
Starting conversations with city leaders and local historians, Trevelline said he has had mixed reactions. He has gone so far as to suggest moving the kiln from its current site to a more prominent place downtown.
He had some streetscape models constructed which are on display in the Hot Dog Shoppe windows. One shows the bottle kiln at the intersection of Fourth Street and Broadway.
Although some do not agree with his idea of moving the kiln - historians, for example, say that to maintain the historical integrity, the kiln needs to remain on its original site - Trevelline isn't fazed. He accomplished his goal of starting conversations about the region's history, and the city's landmark he believes too few know about.
Trevelline said he's been amused by the various reactions to his bottle kiln, and Fiesta windmill.
"People love it," he said. "They have found it entertaining and are amused by it. Some have even called it folk art. Some KSU professors have critiqued it."
Summers said he had a lot of fun with the bottle kiln display, including the name. "Is it a windmill? How about a wind sock?" He said. "I think it is a wind-plate-sock."
He praised Trevelline for supporting the community and his interest in promoting local history, even though he's not an East Liverpool resident.
"He does wonderful things for this town," Summers said.
"I just want to do everything I can to stimulate interest in the city," he said. "I want people to see it for more than potholes and empty storefronts. I want to get people interested enough that they want to live here, and put a business here.
"This town has a fantastic history and culture," he said. "It's all about the people. I want visitors to know about the history."
Trevelline then brought out some bricks he has on display at the Hot Dog Shoppe. "This area was all potteries and brickyards," he said. You used to be able to walk the streets and read the names of the brick companies right in the bricks. And these bricks here, they are beveled. Do you know why? They were made that way so when horses walked on the bricks going up a hill, they good get some traction.
"These are the kinds of things I want to show people," Trevelline said. "I want to be able to show people that this is what yesterday was like."