Welcome to Merry Go Rounds
In 1947, two brothers, Carl and Eugene Theel, bought a corner grocery store with attached gasoline service station (what would today be called a convenience store) in Leavenworth, Kansas. Since neighborhood grocery stores were rapidly disappearing in those days due to the appearance of supermarkets with their larger stocks and lower prices, they shortly decided to close the grocery part and concentrate on the service station business, building a modern service station with an attached garage that had several bays for repairing cars. One day a local farmer stopped by to tell them he had a windmill they could have for tearing it down and removing it from his property. They took him up on the offer and ended up with several hundred pounds of very good structural steel. They were both accomplished welders, having worked in the defense industry during World War II. So, having the material and skills, they then had to figure out something to make with the materials they now had. They finally came up with the idea of making a crude airplane ride for their children to play on, using the angle iron from the windmill tower to build the basic ride structure, and used 30 gallon oil drums
to make the airplanes, which had wooden wings, tails, and seats. A used washing machine gear case and motor were used to power the ride, which worked quite well.
The owner of a local drive in theater happened to drive by one day, saw the ride with the kids playing on it, stopped and asked if he could buy it as an addition to the playground the theater had for the kids to play on during intermission. He also wanted to buy two more for drive in theaters he had in other locations. And so began the Theel Brothers Manufacturing Company. Other rides were added to the line as time went on, with the Merry Go Round added in 1955. Around that time, Carl bought Eugene's share in the company and the name was shortened to Theel Manufacturing Company. Carl Theel passed away in 1992 and operations were taken over by his youngest son. Various events forced the company out of business in 1997. Most of the patterns and fixtures were acquired by second son Max Theel, who now produces the rides as The Theel Company.