austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Now they've got the helicopters and submarines too

We left the Mythic Creatures exhibit with about an hour before the museum closed and stumbled into, y'know, stuff. Like immediately outside the room were World War II military uniforms. Then stamps, including some designed by a local philatelic club for a proposed but not printed 1956 series commemorating the Grand Rapids furniture industry. A diorama of toys for the decades brought out memories for us. Trivial Pursuit. Socker Boppers. What the label described as a Rubik's Cube but that I recognized as a Rubik's Revenge, the four-by-four version of the puzzle. And it's not like it didn't even have a Rubik's Revenge logo on one of the white stickers on top of the cube. I trust someone was fired for this blunder. From decades earlier than ours, a Popeye Spinach jack-in-the-box. Tinkertoys and Lincoln logs. A ouija board. Big, metal toy cars just perfect for gouging a sibling's skin out. From the earliest decades, playing cards with figures ike the Old Maid, Sunny Jim, Baxter Brown, Auto Reggie (perfectly dressed to go along with Lucille in his merry Oldsmobile), and the Katzs Kid.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum embraces the ``let's have piles of stuff'' motif and that allows for great stuff. Bicentennial merchandise with of course Gerald Ford's face smiling hesitantly over it. A red-white-and-blue design cash register from the American Freedom Train, again from 1976. A circa 1880 word puzzle, ``Blocks of Five or the Administration Puzzle''. ``Blaine is in --- How can Harrison Get Him Out?'' Can you get the continental liar from the state of Maine out of the five-by-five letter blocks? I dunno. The big clock mechanism from the former Grand Rapids City Hall. Chunks of decoration from the former Grand Rapids City Hall. Taxidermy figures of local wildlife, including a raccoon and cubs that reinforce how they're adorable but always look golden-brown in taxidermy form.

And finally the carousel, a 1928 Spillman carousel with a bunch of non-horse figures on it. Many carousels have, as this does, a lion and a tiger. This one also has deer, a goat, a camel, and a giraffe. It's been at Grand Rapids since the early 80s; the carousel Grand Rapids had, back when it had an amusement park, is off somewhere else and unavailable. It's in a nice glass enclosure connected to the main museum by a thin corridor, so that it can be seen from the riverside and just be full of light. We had a ride to ourselves, accompanied by the band organ, and I did wonder how many rides they get on a typical weekday afternoon when there's not a school group in. But didn't ask.

We had a bit of time left and walked around the first floor, which has something they bill as a three-quarters-scale replica of Old Grand Rapids. I'm not sure how this works exactly. But it had facades and interiors that do look like what an early 20th century city might have had. A horse-drawn trolley car, like you see in a Harold Lloyd movie. A replica train station with that dazzling black-and-white tile floor and books of tickets for the Grand Rapids and Indiana or the Grand Trunk or other rail lines. Some area fossils. One of those clocks showing how recently humans have appeared on the planet (humans here represented by plastic Flintstones toys). A chunk of the Berlin Wall, along with a photograph to show where it was when it was an intact evil wall.

By then they were getting ready to close up. We explored the gift shop until 5:00 arrived and they really started closing things down. I marvelled at a map of the constellations that sure looked like the one I had as a child, although I suppose constellations look pretty similar today as in 1984. bunny_hugger snagged some astronaut ice cream, an ever-reliable joy from any museum visit. And we went off to a night at Grand Rapids pinball league after that.

Trivia: Cleveland baseball club manager Napoleon Lajoie contracted sepsis after a spike injury in 1905; this grew into blood poisoning blamed on the dye in his stockings. Source: A Game of Inches: The Story Behind The Innovations That Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service, Devin Leonard.

PS: Can We Tell Whether A Pinball Player Is Improving? A problem in linear regression.


PPS: Back to the Rye Playland arcade!

SAM_5300.jpg

Coin slot for the Bat-a-Ball. I'm delighted by the name 'North American Philips Controls Corp' and by the typeface used here.


SAM_5302.jpg

bunny_hugger at the Twilight Zone, just next to Bat-A-Ball, and getting to hear the game's ambient sounds and background music --- Golden Earring's ``Twilight Zone'' --- for the first time. The arcade was quieter than the bar we typically see the game at, and the game was set to play at about 166 dB.


SAM_5303.jpg

Workroom at the arcade that was left open, letting me snap some exciting pictures of ... well, all right, of junk, but it's junk they have in storage for some purpose or other, and isn't that neat?


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