Cole would like for Davis to be as well-known as Garfield. “With a cartoon figure, it’s tough because people don’t know the person,” Reeves said.
The Garfield pieces appear bright and easy to view, thanks to another Reeves idea. He has purchased about a dozen new replacement display cases from a retail business that closed.
“The former cases were turn-of-the-last-century, and made of all oak and glass,” he said. “They took up a lot of space, weighed about 500 pounds and were back loaders. It was difficult to move them and to clean.”
Many items have been rearranged. James Dean objects are easier to see and 11 new, unpublished photos are in a display about Dean’s car racing obsession.
Reeves admits that all of the responsibility made him reluctant to take the presidency.
“I kept telling them no,” Reeves said. He finally agreed when fellow volunteers convinced him to take the reins from Gale Hikade, who wanted a break after more than 12 years as president.
For some of the changes, Reeves teamed up with Fairmount resident Marcus Winslow, James Dean’s cousin and the caretaker of the Winslow family’s Dean objects. Much of Winslow’s collection is displayed. Winslow agreed to help foot the $800 bill for professional signage--black cardboard tags with white lettering that name pieces and describes information. They bought several thousand dollars’ worth of mannequins and other items to improve the displays.
James Dean’s 6th grade basketball uniform now is on a child-sized form. Another mannequin wears Dean’s jeans and western clothing, bringing him to life in an authentic way that was lacking before.
Reeves said getting the clothes on the mannequins was no easy feat. They ended up altering the dummy and removed its feet to get the cowboy boots on.