Thursday, January 31, 2008

What a success!

What a great night!!

THANK YOU to all of the people who attended and made our very first Soup at Six program a success! On the Move: Stark County's Early Automobile Industry went great!

Chris did an excellent job on his program, which he has added to since the last time he did it. I think the audience learned a great deal of information they probably didn't know about Stark County's automobiles.

The sausage tortellini soup was excellent! Randy Smith made it from scratch, and everyone loved it!! I learned that his secret ingredient is steeping black tea bags in it. It gave it a very rich taste, and I was surprised it was from tea!

Randy will be making chicken tortilla soup for the next Soup at Six, which I will be doing on Canton's Pioneers in Flight. Then for our Soup at Six on homebrewing, he is making beer cheese soup. For Hallie's Soup at Six on the Scopes Monkey Trial he is making an Italian pasta soup. Thank you Randy for volunteering your time and talents for this special series.

It is nights like this when I love my job the most. Everything went smoothly, and I was so proud to be a part of this great staff. We all love what we do -- and I think it shows.

Here are some pictures from tonight:

Chris looks a lot different when he isn't baking bread over the fire!

The crowded room

Randy dishes out his wonderful soup!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Baking bread for Soup at Six

Chris spent all of the morning and some of the afternoon baking bread over the open hearth for tomorrow's Soup at Six program! He made 8 loaves. I didn't take pictures, but trust me, every single one of them looks perfect.

We have 38 people signed up for tomorrow's program, which Chris is doing, called On the Move: The Early Auto Industry in Stark County. We are thrilled with that number, considering it is a BRAND NEW SERIES!!

The homemade signature soup will be sausage tortellini. We will have the list of soups for the remaining three Soup at Six programs tomorrow night. We have invested in soup bowls to accommodate up to 50 people.

We are thrilled with the number of people who signed up. I think this and the Tea with the Curator series are reaching out to a new audience. I am excited about future possibilities for both these programs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McKinley Day recap

Everything went GREAT!

Here is a video of the very moving wreath laying ceremony with Brigadier General Richardson and Chaplain Knaup. Every year it never ceases to amaze me how emotional the ceremony is. It is truly an honor to be a part of McKinley's birthday celebration.

And a slideshow of some of the highlights!

Friday, January 25, 2008

All set for tomorrow

As usual, we are all ready for McKinley Day -- ahead of time!

Stephanie has everything set up for lunch, the signs for various activities are posted around the building, Hallie has everything set up for science experiments, and Chris has gone grocery shopping for his open hearth cooking demonstration. All dignitaries have been confirmed. Civil war re-enactors are coming. The programs are printed.

The only thing to do is wait for tomorrow to get here!

I will post photos and hopefully video early next week.

Here is the program of events.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Robin Swoboda

Robin Swoboda from Fox 8 was just here filming a segment about the museum! She was a ball of energy and really a fun person!

She interviewed me in the McKinley Gallery, and then Chris took her up to the Monument.

The show will air on Tuesday January 29 at 10:00 AM. Her assistant told me that they stream the show live on their website, and they also put the segments online after the show.

That's Life with Robin Swoboda

So plan to watch us -- one way or another -- next Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Working away...

Today was one of those days where you just get a bunch of little things done, and you have to be satisfied with that!

My new intern Erin is doing great. Today we went over how to use the database, and she put away some circus-related artifacts that were on display at the courthouse and the St. Luke's Home awhile back. I had hoped we would get to the 2008 Deeds of Gift, but we ran out of time.

I called the people on my list who haven't responded to my initial call about having a dress in the bridal show. I got mostly answering machines. Again. One person backed out for health reasons. Another asked to be put on the list for next year. One woman called and left me a message about her great-grandmother's dress being "too plain."

Well, when I called her back (and got her machine again!) I explained that we don't mind plain dresses! In fact, most dresses c1905 WERE plain. I told her we would still want to have her dress in the show, specifically to talk about how plain wedding dresses have been in certain eras in the past. And also because those early dresses are quite rare these days. I told her to think about it, but I hope she calls me back and decides to do it. I think those dresses are a great teaching opportunity!

So, we have 34 dresses in the building. The goal is 45. I have 4 dresses coming this week. There are 4 messages I am waiting on. And 5 more that I have actually spoken with, but the dresses are not here for a variety of reasons. We are doing well. VERY well! I don't think we have ever been this far along in the process since I started doing this in 2002! We should have all of the dresses here in plenty of time for our modeling appointments at the end of February.

Oh, and I gave a tour of the 1920s exhibit today to a lovely group of ladies from The Danbury. They came last year for a tour of the I Thee Wed exhibit. One woman on the tour was born in 1920 and was the youngest of 15 children! She remembered her older sisters wearing Flapper dresses. It was neat to have her on the tour. I had to ask those who remembered the decade if I did it justice. They said I had! That is the best compliment in the world!!

One thing my job ISN'T is monotonous! Every day is different from the day before. That's one of the many reasons that I love what I do.

Monday, January 21, 2008

McKinley Day is just days away

Final preparations have begun for McKINLEY DAY on Saturday January 26!!

I just finished the program for activities in the building for the day. New this year is a red carnation craft for kids, a book signing and reading from Canton's Pioneers in Flight, the new movie from last year's summer camp, science experiments in Discover World, and the Closing Ceremony of the "Let's Do It Again!" Penny Campaign.

Old favorites are back -- "Meet the President" talks with Jerry Sandifer as President McKinley, civil war re-enactors, science shows in Discover World, planetarium shows, and lunch in the Museum Cafe.

Dignitaries include Sen. Kirk Schuring, Rep. Scott Oelslager, and Canton Mayor Jamie Healy. Wreaths will be laid by the re-enactors, the Army Navy Union, MOLLUS, and the Brigadier General on behalf of the White House. Taps will be played, after a 21 gun salute. It is a very moving ceremony.

It should be a fun filled day! And for the discounted price of $5 per person, you can't beat it! (As always, members are admitted free)

The only thing left for me to do is finish up the wreath laying program (waiting for some info from the Army) and make sure all the signs are up to date from last year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spring cleaning -- a little EARLY!

Things are changing around here!

Although we are hoping to raise enough money through our Capital Campaign to fund a new storage facility that will be attached to our building, we have some immediate storage needs that need to be addressed sooner than that.

For example, our hanging textile storage room was way overcrowded. This meant there was no room at all for new donations of textiles that had already been cataloged. So they were hanging in the accessions office, sort of in limbo.

I casually mentioned to Steve, our facilities manager, that I sure could use some new racks. Being the "can do" guy that he is, by the end of the day he had ordered new racks!

While I was busy doing Tea with the Curator on Monday morning, the guys cleaned out the textile storage room, moved all the clothing to the new racks, and piled up the rest of the stuff in my workspace so I could decide what to do with it.

Well, there was A LOT more there than I expected!

So this week, I have been trying to get a handle on all that STUFF. Some things were artifacts that had been out on exhibit that hadn't been put away yet. There were several hats that had been out on exhibit when the hat collection was re-housed a few years ago. So the poor things had no home box to return to. I had been trying to figure out what to do with them, because the hat collection is stored chronologically, and these hats were from all different time periods. Faced with the problem cluttering up my space, I made a quick decision to box them up together, and make a note in each database record that they would not be found in a chronological box. One thing taken care of.

But there is still a bunch more to sort through and organize. Most of it dates back before my arrival in 2001.

My work area is also currently congested with several antique vacuum cleaners that we received from Hoover. They are not Hoovers, but part of an extensive collection of vacuum cleaners collected by the company over several years. Volunteer Don Evans is cataloging them, but currently we have no place to put them in storage. Hoover also gave us lots of metal shelves, and the guys are working on installing the shelves in our storage areas. Until that project is complete, the vacuums must stay right where they are!

So, we have to do "this" before we can do "that" -- and as I keep saying, as long as we keep moving forward, at least that is in the right direction!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book released today!

Canton's Pioneers in Flight was released today!

Special thanks (again!) to Gary Brown for the wonderful article he wrote about it in today's paper:

I was not expecting to see my picture on the front page of the newspaper!! (There was a little photo above the banner, and then the story is inside)

I hope people find the book as interesting to read as I did to write it!!

Tea with the Curator - Little Chicago

I had a great time today!! With a sold out crowd for our first Tea with the Curator in our new 1920s series, I couldn't be happier!

I thought it went great. I talked a little bit longer than I had intended, but I think people were OK with that. I sometimes get carried away when I am really excited about something!

First, I gave an overview of the era, focusing on both national trends and local events. Then we talked about Prohibition and the murder of Don Mellett in Canton in 1926. I ended with the 21st amendment (which repealed Prohibition). This is a "new & improved" version of the old "Little Chicago" program from my Canton: A Journey Through Time Lecture Series.

Chris took a short video from the beginning of my program. A few more photos follow.

Thank you so much to all who attended!! We hope the rest of the Tea with the Curator series sells out! AND our new Soup at Six series too!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Busy busy!!

Someone just asked me why I haven't posted in a few days. The answer is simple. I've been pretty busy!!

I have met with several women this week who are bringing in dresses for the Bridal Show. So far we have 28 in the building. I have a few more appointments next week as well. There are only a handful of people who haven't called me back yet. I plan to call them again next week and find out if they are still interested.

We have some really gorgeous dresses and some wonderful stories for this year's show!!

Between dress appointments I met with Gary Brown about a story for my new book Canton's Pioneers in Flight (as I mentioned last post), and I went to Dick's Restaurant to give my program "Sweet Stuff: The Story of Chocolate" for the Massillon DAR. (By the way, the chocolate program is sponsored by Anastasiades Exclusive Chocolates in North Canton, so I bring chocolate with me when you book that program!!)

Next week is looking equally busy.

The Tea with the Curator on Monday is SOLD OUT!! I am just thrilled about that. We are so grateful to this community for embracing what we do here at the museum. It is very rewarding to serve you.

I have a new intern starting next week too. Her name is Erin and she is a history major at Kent State. I have a list of projects for her all ready to go, so I am looking forward to getting her started!

McKinley Day prep continues. Mayor Healy, Senator Schuring, and Rep. Oelslager have all contacted me and will be attending the wreath laying ceremony at 3:00 PM. Brigadier General Douglas A. Richardson will be representing the White House this year. So everything is falling into place for McKinley Day.

I am going to rest up this weekend for the work ahead next week. Things are almost always busy around here!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Invitations, books, and gowns -- oh my!

Busy week so far!!

I have made appointments all week for people to bring in their gowns. I love seeing all the different styles every year, and this year I am interviewing everyone as well to write the script for the show. People have wonderful stories to share, and beautiful dresses! So far, the 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s are represented here in the building. In the end, we will have at least one from each decade.

Today I also worked up a draft for the bridal show invitation. Since we are going with a "beach theme," I wanted to use the ocean, and also incorporate our colors of hot pink, teal, and lime green. I like what I did, but I always have to sleep on it and revisit in later to see if I truly like what I've done.

McKinley Day luncheon invitations were mailed out today (thank you to board member Don Deitemyer for hosting again this year!), which is my last batch of McKinley Day related mailing. I heard from AnnMarie Daneker, our contact with the Army, so the General is in place. Thankfully they are coming in on Friday and leaving on Sunday this year, so we won't be rushing the General around like we usually have to do! It will be a more leisurely time for all involved.

Gary Brown was in today to talk to me about my new book. It is such a thrill to be able to document Canton's history! While talking about the book, I got excited about aviation all over again. Scott Heckel was taking pictures, and I didn't expect to be his subject. I hope if they choose to use a picture of me, it will at least be a good one!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New open hearth cooking equipment

Chris and I were out shopping today, and we had been tipped off by Bob Christy (the photographer who did the "Broken Down Heroes" exhibit a few years back) a few days ago that The Log Cabin Shop in Lodi had a trivet for open hearth cooking exactly like we have been looking for!!

Literally, we have been scouring antique shops since moving to Ohio in 2001 to find one like we had at the last museum we worked at in New York. They were never tall enough to put embers under and set a Dutch oven or frying pan on. All we ever found were short ones, either for decorative use or to use like a pot holder.

The trivet is about 6 inches off the ground, which gives Chris plenty of room to stack hot coals underneath. With the pancake breakfast coming up in February, it sure is good timing to find one.

In fact, they had two, so he got both of them! This will allow him to make better use of the fire, cooking more things at once.

The first cooking demo he has this year will be McKinley Day on January 26. If you come in that day, ask to see his new trivets! I'm sure he'll be happy to show them off.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bridal show prep begins

Believe it or not, work has already begun on the Bridal Show, which will be April 5. This year I am going to be the MC, so I am very excited about that!!

I will begin by calling all of the people who have already contacted me about loaning a dress for this year's show. We actually had close to enough dresses for the 2008 show BEFORE the 2007 show even happened!! This morning I will start making calls and confirm who is still interested, as well as to set up an appointment to bring in their dresses and be interviewed about their stories.

In a related issue, since last year's show I have been using one of the portable dress racks for new textile donations. We received a beautiful collection of late 20th century party dresses and woman's suits that have been cataloged and tagged. BUT there is no place to put them! So we are looking into purchasing new racks and expanding textile storage.

Even though McKinley Day is technically our next special event, it pretty much plans itself. I am still waiting to hear from some of the people I sent letters to before the holidays. I believe I have all or most of the names for the wreath laying ceremony. I am still unsure which dignitaries are planning to attend.

And so the 2008 work begins!!

UPDATE: I have completed my list of calls. I had to leave lots of messages! I have 21 dresses either confirmed or here already, and 2 disconnected phone numbers. If everything comes through, we will have more than enough dresses. I always plan for a few not to work out. Happens every year.

So we are well on our way to getting this thing going!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!!

I returned to work today after a 10 day vacation for the holidays. Thankfully, not too much happened while I was gone, so it won't take me another 10 days to catch up!

I admit I was sad to see 2007 go, because it was a very special year for us. We had planned our 100th anniversary activities for so many years! I just can't believe that the entire year is over!

However, we do have lots of great activities planned for 2008, including a reprise (on a smaller scale!) of our 100 Hours Celebration coming in June. The $4 million Capital Campaign is well underway, and we are excited to be moving forward on a number of great projects that will make the museum even better than it already is!

We had such a successful year last year, but I do think we will build on that momentum and have an equally great 2008 -- even if we don't have a significant anniversary to celebrate!