Small Talk

Pedal Up to Nebraska

Pedal Up to Nebraska

Pedal to the Metal: Pedal Cars and American Car Culture is racing to the finish line; the exhibit closes August 28, 2016. If you hustle to T/m before then, you can see several cars from the collection of the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed. If not, you may be able to catch the 1937 Ford Deluxe, 1930 Steelcraft Chrysler, 1953 Torpedo, 1950 Mercedes Benz 190SL, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1950 Tri-ang Flying Squad Police Cruiser, 1960 Deluxe “Flat Face” Fire Truck, or 1967 Skipper Run-a-Bout on view in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The 135,000 square foot museum was founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith to preserve, interpret, and display items significant in racing and automotive history. Pedal cars are just the starting line of their extensive collection of vehicles (early dirt- and board-track racecars, midget cars, Indy cars, street rods, and restored classics). And for those of you who fondly remember Soap Box Derby, they’ve got a great collection of those too!
Photo: Antigone Jackson, Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed.

A Classroom of Design: Sun and Sprinklers

A Classroom of Design: Sun and Sprinklers

While we’ve examined some of the furnishings in William R. Robertson’s Architecture Classroom, we have yet to focus in on the architectural elements… imagine that!

Chain-operated shades allow students to control the amount of sunlight coming through the skylight. And the amount of light is super important for the blueprint maker. The blueprint maker, copied from Oscar Perrigo’s 1906 Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, and Management, is equipped with photo-sensitive paper mounted in glass frames. The paper can be easily exposed to sunlight by rolling it out in front of the windows. Voila blueprint!

Last but not least, in case of an emergency, Robertson researched Grinnell sprinkler head patents to ensure that the ones installed in the classroom were just right; those above the students’ heads are from an 1892 patent. Now that’s some starchitect-level attention to detail!

The Silly Side of the Sixties

The Silly Side of the Sixties

If you thought the 1950s in Gotta Have It! Toys from Past Decades was exciting, then hold your horses because here comes toys of the 1960s. The world of toys exploded in this decade. “Playing house” significantly improved with the Easy-Bake Oven and extensive line of Suzy Homemaker appliances. As the nation escalated military involvement in Vietnam and sent men into space, toys like G.I. Joe suited up and Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon explored new galactic frontiers.

And while you have the 1960s to thank for every tiny LEGO piece you have cursed after stepping on (not to mention the thousands of dollars you’ve expended on fancy sets), the decade was also responsible for answering all of your pressing teenage-angst-filled questions. Around since the 1940s, the not so magic Magic 8 Ball flourished in the decade with its floating 20-sided die inside a plastic ball filled with blue liquid. Why is it shaped like a billiard ball? Reply hazy. Try again later.

Nettie’s Dollhouse Dolls

Nettie’s Dollhouse Dolls

The contents stored inside the Nettie Wells dollhouse give us a special look at the playtime of a Victorian girl. Among them is a small bisque porcelain doll, who is unfortunately missing a few of her appendages. We learned from Nettie’s writings kept within the house that this doll’s name was Gracie and that Nettie considered herself Gracie’s mama.

It’s still unclear how Gracie may have suffered some bodily losses (we’ve ruled out the possibility of an older brother!), but we can tell from evidence on her muslin underwear that someone tried to repair her with glue. Gracie even had a smaller doll of her own. Nettie and Gracie must have had many imaginative adventures (or misadventures) together, judging from her many accessories, which we’ll peek into next time.

The Nifty Toys of the Fifties

The Nifty Toys of the Fifties

If you build it, they will come. And what they wanted (yup, that’s you, our visitors), were the toys they played with as a kid. While seeing the toys you played with behind glass may make you feel old, it is pretty awesome to see old friends again. We promise you’ll pick right up where you left off. Gotta Have It! Iconic Toys from Past Decades begins with 1950s toys.

Saturday mornings in front of the television set changed advertising, allowing companies to demonstrate products and directly reach their target market: kids. And the discovery of polypropylene made plastic toys inexpensive and more interactive. Barbie came to town with Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. They were joined by failed-manufacturing-ventures-turned-toys in Silly Putty and Play-Doh. And the decade wouldn’t be complete without Matchbox cars, Erector Sets, and dolls that talked and wet, Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy.

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