Moris  VanWay

The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday September 29, 1947
Page 4 column 5
            “Take it down to Moris VanWay, ask him and he’ll straighten you out.”  That’s advice often given to amateur, and even skilled mechanics who have some intricate mechanical problem confronting them.  For Moris is somewhat of a “jack of all trades” in things mechanical and is known for having one of the “best” minds in town along that line.
            Many are the ideas which have been developed in his shop on the corner of Harrison and First Streets.  But he doesn’t patent any of his inventions.  Too much trouble, he says, and “besides patents don’t mean too much.”  He’d rather let the other fellow do the actual full scale producing.
            “Experimental engineering” is what he terms his business and he explained that as being the designing and building of all sorts of special equipment for all sorts of work.  Right now he’s working on particular machinery to be used in the manufacture of radio tubes.  He’s been delving into the radio field since before he was out of high school back in 1915 when “radio” was known only as wireless telegraphy.  And all of his experience paid off during the day.  Although very few people knew it, intensive experimentation in radar and underwater sound equipment went on in the shop that always has been a favorite hangout for the men that know the difference between a micrometer and a reamer.  Actually made in the shop during the war years was all the lens coating equipment needed by RCA for all types of guns and bomb sights and television. Moris says this naturally was all very “hush-hush” and that the men working for him didn’t know on what they were laboring.  And he chuckles as he remembers that he was threatened with arrest during one of the local blackouts because work went right on in his place with no turning off of lights.
            He recalls too, quite a technical tussle with some war “authorities” when they demanded that he install a high fence and guards about his place of business.  He could think of no better way of advertising that he was doing secretive war work. The fence didn’t go up and the guards didn’t walk.
            Moris’ father, the late Harry VanWay, bought the tri-cornered lot where the two-story shop is located in 1904 and operated a confectionery there until 1915. Moris opened his shop in the upstairs rooms in 1918 and from 1920 to 1937 his work consisted mainly of building and repairing radios.  He then branched into the experimental field and two years ago took over the entire building.  A grocery store had occupied the downstairs rooms for some time after his father no longer conducted his business.
            At one time he designed and built gas heaters for homes and business establishments; at another he mainly was occupied with photoengraving, and during still another period he was experimenting with loud speaker equipment for airplanes.  And from 1929 through 1931 he developed and built talking motion picture equipment and installed the machines in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida.
            His hobby is guns and while he doesn’t have a “collection,” he can talk in minute detail of almost any type of gun that is built.  He’s vice-president of the National Muzzle-Loading Rifle Association and each year sees him trek down to Friendship for the annual matches.  This year he took his 11-year-old son, Johnnie, with him for the week and he announces with pride that “Johnnie is quite a shot.”
            The rest of his family consists of his wife, Helen, an ex-nurse who now is national president of Kappa Kappa Sigma sorority, his 10-year-ols blonde daughter,  Jane Anne, and his mother, who has an attractive cottage-home on Flat Rock river where the VanWays go often for relaxation.
            Moris once was intensely interested in flying too.  He learned, as did many other local fliers, under  Harold Carroon  at the old Nave field northeast of town.  But he’s given that up.  He’s too busy with all the intricacies of machinery - and with answering questions people wanting to know what to do with cameras, engravings, guns and the hundreds of other gadgets which look so simple once they’re developed and put into operation.
Contributed by Barb Huff

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