The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 18, May 6, 2007, Article 37


Last week, after talking with ANA Research Librarian Amber Thompson,
I wrote that we had located 1960s-era coin dealer Ray Wheeler in Avon,
Missouri.  Amber writes: "I was glancing over the newest issue of The
E-Sylum and I noticed a little mistake. You had called me about locating
the address for Ray Wheeler and it looks like you misunderstood the name
of the town. He was listed as residing in Ava, Missouri, not Avon."

My wife calls me hard of hearing, so maybe she's right.  Ava, Missouri
it is.  Sorry for the confusion.  Rich Hartzog did some checking for us,
and my mistake led him astray.  He wrote: "Mapquest reveals two Avon, MO
locations, but neither appear to be more than a wide spot in the road,
neither listing an 11th St."

Returning to the original token we're researching, Wheeler's address
was "2528 E. 11TH".  I tend to use Google Maps rather than Mapquest, so
I went there first.  Entering Ava, Missouri I was taken to a map clearly
showing a promising grid of numbered avenues and streets, and like the
Nigel Tufnel character in 'This Is Spinal Tap', I thought "It's got an

Entering the complete address though, led to a problem - there's no
"E 11th" today, but there are "NE 11th" and "NW 11th".  I chose "NE 11th",
guessing that perhaps over the years addresses were changed to
differentiate between the east and west quadrants of the town.
But how to confirm that?

Back to The Internet.  I found the web site for the City of Ava,
Missouri: "Nestled here in the middle of Ozark Mountains, Ava is truly
a treasure with forest, fields, and streams, friendly and kind-hearted
residents, fascinating historical and cultural heritage and diverse
educational opportunities."

Now for some human engineering.  I called city hall and explained my
quest.  I learned that the street numbering system had not changed;
when the grid was adopted, it was divided into quadrants from the get-go.
Also, the "WE" telephone exchange did not ring a bell with the woman I
spoke to.  Hmmmm. She (and the Mayor Himself) recalled a Ray Wheeler,
but could not confirm that he was a coin and antique dealer or that he
had a shop on 11th Street.  There is a Ray Wheeler buried in the town
cemetery.  But are we on the right trail or barking up the wrong tree?
It bugs me that the address quadrant and phone exchange don't seem to
match up with the locals' knowledge.

Rich Hartzog writes: "A check in with the AERIAL view shows
the area to apparently be residential, vs. commercial, and with the NE
vs E. 11th St. problem, I suspect Ava is still the wrong city."

Rich performed some other useful searches using Wheeler's name.  He
writes: "The Social Security death index lists two Ray Wheelers from MO,
but neither match up with a birth date of 1918.  Better yet is a probably
unknown-to-most reference, the TENproject, located at , which provides matches
for phone number prefixes.  For MO it shows:

93 WE WE (?) Meadville MO
93 WE WEbster St Louis MO
93 WE WEbster Webster Groves MO
93 WE WEllington Harwood MO
93 WE WElls Mountain View MO
93 WE WEstmore Seymour MO
93 WE WEstport Kansas City MO

"While the TENproject is useful, please note there are inconsistencies
in the tables.  Another search reveals three different Ray Wheelers
probably currently alive, each with a birth date around 1918, none in
MO.  If his middle initial was known, that would help.

"Contacting MO researchers might solve the mystery more quickly, as
they might already be familiar with the piece.  While hardly complete,
my web page does list some sources
to track down maverick tokens.  In addition, there is a database on CD
of all known mavericks listed in most every state trade token book,
the TAMS, ATCO and NATCA mavericks and more."

[So here we are, still flummoxed over the identification of the token.
Is it really from the same Ray Wheeler who ran for ANA governor?  If
not, then where the heck is it from?  Brooklyn, NY, Chicago, IL,
Baltimore, MD and several other cities with WE telephone exchanges also
have E 11th addresses.  -Editor]

Rich Hartzog wrote to Bruce Smith, who responded: "I don't know anything
about the Ray Wheeler piece. The address is not in Ava, MO however. There
was such an address in Joplin, which was nearby. Also, if you add a 417
area code to the phone number, you get Mountain View, MO, which is also
in the area. The address is also possible for Kansas City, MO.  I wonder
if the telephone company ever published a national list of telephone
exchanges? Such a list would be very useful for attributing modern
tokens and souvenir items."

Rich Hartzog adds: "With this info on Mountain View, and the previous
phone exchange info which gave that town as a possibility, it seems
that would be the next choice for research."

Bruce Smith adds: "The numbered streets in St. Louis run north and south,
so we can eliminate St. Louis. Since Joplin doesn't have that exchange,
my money would be on Kansas City, if the piece is indeed from Missouri."

To watch Nigel Tufnel explaining "eleven" to Rob Reiner, see:


  Wayne Homren, Editor

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