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The Occidental Hotel tunes into old-time radio

Anna Aughenbaugh
Fort Collins, Colo.
The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., is truly like stepping back into the Old West with uniquely decorated rooms, tin ceilings and a renovated saloon and lobby.
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We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.

We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.

We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.

We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.

We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.

We hadn’t been to the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyo., for several years, so were pleasantly surprised to see that the owner, Dawn Wexo, had finished refurbishing the north wing. These were the rooms that had been used for the bordello early in the hotel’s history. Walls have been removed so that each uniquely decorated room has a private bath. The room where Owen Wister stayed now has a bathroom that is elevated to protect the tin ceilings below it.

When President Hoover stayed here in 1932, the fishing lures that he carried in his pockets snagged and ripped the upholstery of the couch.

Dawn planned to have it re-upholstered until a man who knew how the rips happened convinced her to leave it as a bit of historical trivia.

Dawn has displayed the former owner, Margaret Smith’s dresses, quilts and other possessions to honor her in the north wing hallway. The library has a long reading table, and the bookcases along the walls contain 39,000 volumes.

“One night as I made my rounds, I found two young girls in the library, snuggled up in the quilts off their beds, surrounded by their choice of books,” said Dawn. “They were surprised when I told them they could sleep there if they wanted to. Later, I got a postcard from them, saying, “That night in the library was the highlight of our vacation, even better than Disneyland.’ “

A saloon, as well as, the Virginian restaurant are a part of the Occidental. About 25 music lovers get together to jam every Thursday night in the saloon. The restaurant’s elegance invites you to step back in time as you listen to music from the 1940s on the 1929 Victor radio and dine on one of the menu’s choices, such as the tasty buffalo steaks.

Dawn had a chance meeting of Mike Shanley who was bidding on old radios at a farm auction. He told her that his hobby is rebuilding them, but he’s running out of room at his house. “I have a big house, the Occidental Hotel,” Dawn told him. The very next day Mike pulled up to the hotel with a trailer full of restored radios.

“Mike has put 23 radios in the hotel, we’ve worked together for 2 years and he keeps coming up with new ideas,” said Dawn. “He’d be happy to have you interview him.”

I called Mike to ask if he would come to talk with me. He replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and drove over from Banner. This man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the radios he has restored are over 80 years old. Some people have thrown out the radios, then made liquor cabinets, which hurts Mike. Most old radios have been relegated to attics or barns where the cabinets may have become damaged, but Mike can still use the parts.

A 1930 Edison radio in a beautiful, original finish cabinet that cost $300 new, stands in the lobby. Hearing Jimmy Dorsey’s band added ambiance to the room. Mike has set up a 10th of a watt radio transmitter that can send taped ’30s and ’40s music or old-time programs such as The Lone Ranger or Sherlock Holmes to all of the radios. He has cataloged the tapes so guests can choose which ones to listen to as they reminisce about the days when they sat around the radio as children. It is quite a challenge for Mike to overcome the old tin ceilings and one foot thick walls between the hall and saloon that play havoc with the transmitter.

“It is a challenge, but fun,” said Mike. “I worked at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 26 years in media production where I repaired everything.”

After retiring, Mike and his wife moved to a 50 acre ranch near Banner, Wyo. His training at the college is being put to good use as he continues to enjoy restoring the radios that he collects at auctions.

After completely rewiring an antique radio, it is a thrill to have it work the first time he turns it on.

This fun project has become a draw for the hotel. After seeing the hotel’s website, a man from England made a reservation, requesting a room with a certain radio.

The hotel is now home to a 1937 Coronado Model 735, sold by Gamble, Skogno and Montgomery Ward, and a floor model 1928 Graybar Model 310, to name a few. “I’m working on an early 1930s short wave that picks up police calls. It will be here for people who know how to use it,” said Mike.

“Catalin, a plastic table model was unique to Philco. As they aged they got a marbled look. Bakelite cabinets can be restored with black shoe polish, it gives them a really unique look. I use Min Wax stain and finish on most of the wooden cabinets. It is fun to bring them back to life.”

Crumbly latex insulation has to be removed, then the radio components are photographed so Mike can know how to replace everything after it is cleaned. Original tubes haven’t been made since the 1960s, some not since WWII, but they are still available. Sound tubes are the most expensive, but substitutes work for just a forth of the original Edison’s costs.

Mike saves old tubes to give to kids. He would like to mentor teenagers who would like to learn to restore antique radios.

To enjoy western hospitality at its finest and to go back in time as you listen to music or old-time radio shows, contact the Occidental Hotel, 10 N. Main St., Buffalo, WY 82834, (307) 684-0451 or visit their website at: http://www.occidentalwyoming.com.


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