Tiffin native Michael Flechtner once again has returned to town, this time to help install two restored vintage neon signs for friends Lynne and Kent Cartwright.
The signs originally were in Kent's father's shop, Cartwright Electric Service which was built in the mid 1940s. Sterling "Fat" Cartwright was a 1934 graduate of the Junior Home, where he learned to become an electrician and, after World War II, opened his own shop.
Kent said the shop was located at Six's Corners and his father did a lot of residential, commercial and industrial electrical work.
PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY
Artist Michael Flechtner arranges a neon sign he helped restore for Kent and Lynne Cartwright recently.
"He even helped in installing traffic lights downtown," Kent said.
After Kent's father retired, Kent took the signs and they have been in his garage ever since.
The signs were a Christmas present to Kent from his wife.
Flechtner came to Tiffin in October to donate a piece of his art to Columbian High School. During the visit, Lynne proposed the idea of restoring the two signs.
Flechtner is known for designing the neon U.S. postage stamp "Celebrate!" that is used nationwide.
"These two signs were close to being the inspiration that started my involvement with neon," Flechtner said, noting he would see these signs while walking to Noble School from his Apple Street home.
The signs are each 4 feet long and made of white-and-red neon glass. To restore the signs, Flechtner measured each part and made notes on where each piece went, then took each sign apart. The signs are roughly 60 years old based on techniques that were used, he said.
Once the pieces were cleaned, a few parts needed to be replaced. The signs were reassembled and placed in a box to be shipped cross-country.
"These signs are part of my family's past, and I can envision the old shop where I used to work with my dad," Kent said.