Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage!
The date is August 6, 1902, and you are boarding the train on the Milwaukee line heading to Milwaukee. It is a sunny afternoon, and everything seems normal. As you board the train, you can see engineers and other workers rushing around preparing the train for departure. As the whistle blows signaling the train will be leaving the station soon, you hurry toward your seat and place your baggage above you on the rack. You then settle into your seat, ready for what you assume will be a standard trip on the train. Little do you know, this train will never make it to its final stop.
An hour or so passes on the train, and everything seems normal. People talk in hushed tones around you, keeping mostly to themselves. The conductor, having collected all the tickets, returns from the back of the train, heading toward the front. As you watch him walk past, you wonder what he does during the trip and admire his fancy hat, but soon return to the book you brought with you. More time passes, and you hear the train whistle blow loudly as the train pulls into the station. Seeing that this is the station at Collins, you return to your book, not paying much attention to those boarding and disembarking. Your eyes grow heavy, and soon you fall asleep as the train pulls out of the station.
The train lets out an ear-piercing whistle, jarring you awake. You look out the window, and are surprised to see that the train is not near a station at all. Another shrill whistle sounds, and it fills you with a sense of urgency. You try to lean as close to the window as you can to get a glimpse of what is ahead, but you cannot see anything. A third whistle sounds: now other people on the train are starting to talk. Everyone can feel something in the air, but no one knows what exactly it is. A fourth whistle, even more urgent sounding than the third, and suddenly you are thrown from your seat as the sound of metal crashing into metal fills the air. Chaos ensues as people are flung about the train. Your head pounds, and as you put your hand to your temple you feel a hot, sticky liquid and pull your hand back to see your fingers coated in red. The conductor, his clothes a mess and without his hat, comes back through the train, asking people to quickly and quietly leave the train. You do as he asks, and as you move down the train you seem some people following his advice, while others sit eerily still. Once off the train and a fair distance away, you look and it finally dawns upon you that you have just survived a horrible train wreck, one in which some people will not be leaving alive.
Although this may not have been exactly how it happened, a train wreck did occur on August 6, 1902 between Collins and Rhodes Iowa. As you can see in the picture, the locomotive is in a bad state, having just run into a work train. Nine people, including an engineer from Perry, died in the crash. Although our records do not state the exact details of the crash, it seems likely that the work train was not supposed to be on the tracks. In reality, only those on the train could have known what truly happened, but who knows, maybe my description is closer than I think!
As a reminder, the next Gary Ernest Smith event is on October 13th at the Hotel Pattee from 4:30 – 6:30! This time Adrienne Gennett, the Assistant Curator of Collections and Education at University Museums in ISU will be here! I hope to see you there!
Good afternoon readers!
Today we have another interesting, but ultimately useless, item from our collection. What makes this item truly useless is what is inside of it. In order to make this a little more fun, we are going to play a simple game. Here is how it works: I am going to describe everything that I can about this item, and I want all of you to try to guess what is inside it. To guess, all you have to do it comment on this post! I will reveal the answer in the next blog post. So, let us play “What’s in the box”!
Here at Hometown Heritage, we call the box in question “HPI Box 40”. As you can see in the picture, it is a wooden box. There are a multitude of scratches on the top of the box, indicating that is has been used a fair amount. The front of the box has a lightly metal decorated clasp to hold the box shut. It does not work very well, as the clasp does not stay completely down. The hinges on the back of the box have a similar design to the latch on the front, with the light flourishes. Both seem to be made of iron or some other gray colored metal. The bottom is just like the top: it has quite a few scratches, most likely indicating frequent use. The box is approximately 12 inches wide, 19 inches long and 3 inches high.
Here are a few final clues that may help you guess what is inside. The box is part of a group of items donated to us from the estate of Beulah Bentley Schluter. There are all kinds of items in this collection, ranging from Christmas letters to travel documents to various pictures. Beulah appeared to be someone interested in art, as included in the collection are also various drawings of hers. She was also a well-traveled woman, having been to Germany, Hawaii, New Zealand, and South America. As you can see, this box is very odd. In my opinion, it should not be in our collection.
These are all the clues I can give you, readers. Partly because I do not want to make it too easy to guess what is in this box, and partly because Beulah Bentley Schluter is somewhat of a mystery woman. What I have told you about her is almost all that I know of her. It would be great if, in addition to guessing what is in the box, any of you who knew her could tell more about her!
Welcome back readers!
Now, we have talked about animals on this blog once before, and that was a very interesting day. I thought that nothing out here could ever beat the wonder and curiosity that the shoulder chicken inspired in me. However, I was wrong. There is something more wonderful and curious than the shoulder chicken, and that animal is the wagon ostrich.
The wagon ostrich is exactly what it sounds like. It is an ostrich, hitched to a wagon, as if that was completely normal. There is even a woman sitting on the wagon, holding the reins in her hands. That is completely amazing. I can only imagine how hard it would be to hitch an ostrich to a wagon. It seems highly unlikely to me that an ostrich would cooperate with anyone trying to do that to it. In addition, there is a fenced off area behind the wagon with a whole group of ostriches in it. Are they all wagon ostriches? Is this a family business for those ostriches? This, along with the fact that the side of the wagon reads “Los Angeles Ostrich Farm”, leads one to believe that this is some kind of tourist attraction. However, what is also of interest is why this photo is in our system.
Now the details of this photo are not very plentiful. Really, all that I know comes from the title: “Kate Friedrichsen in a Wagon Pulled by an Ostrich”. What exactly does this mean? Is Kate Friedrichsen the owner of the ostrich farm? Maybe she is a tourist who stopped by and got a ride. Neither of these answers really explain why we have this photo. This question is even more curious because based on the photo. From what we can see, this wagon is in Los Angeles, or at least comes from Los Angeles. Now correct me if I am wrong, but Los Angeles does not have very much to do with little old Perry, Iowa. They are half a continent away from each other after all. The only connection that I can think of is that, perhaps, this is how Kate Friedrichsen got from Los Angeles to Perry. Perhaps she rode the entire way on a wagon drawn by an ostrich. That would be a completely new level of dedication. I doubt that I could ride in a wagon that far, let alone in a wagon drawn by an ostrich. Of course, it would also require a team of ostriches, since one is probably not strong enough to pull a wagon full of stuff. Overall, even if the reason that it is in our collection is unknown, it is still an amazing photo. If you have any amazing photos in your photo collections, please feel free to share!
Today is another mystery, just like the one about the shoulder chicken. However, today’s mystery is about boats. Yes, that is right, boats. Now we do not actually have any boats here at Hometown Heritage (where would we put it, after all), but we do have something from a boat: an old life preserver (or life buoy). Glenn Theulen donated this ring, and as you can see in the picture, it was white with three P’s on it. Here lies part of the mystery. What do the three P’s stand for? Peace, Perseverance, and Patience? Or maybe Partying, Poker, and Pajamas? Unfortunately, searching Google for “PPP life preserver” only brings up a life jacket product… for dogs. What do you all think that the three P’s stand for? Contemplating the problem it seems the two most likely things that they stand for is either the name of an association or company that distributed this life preserver, or the name of the boat that it belonged too. This brings to light the second mystery of this object: where did it come from?
Now obviously this came from a boat (I am not THAT silly) but where was that boat? Here in Perry there are not exactly many places to go sailing. The closest place in Perry that would count as a body of water is Frog Creek, and I highly doubt one could put a standard sized boat into that little stream. There are a few other places nearby, like Saylorville Lake or Lake Panorama, but I am not sure that a boat with this kind of life preserver would be sailing around those lakes. It seems likely to me that this life preserver belongs to a boat that was sailing somewhere out in the ocean. Maybe it was some kind of Navy boat that was used during a war? Or maybe it was just an old sailing boat, used during a vacation on the beach? Unfortunately, the answer is unknown. Once again, there is not enough information in our system here to answer these questions. If you have any answers about this life preserver (or just ideas in general) I would be very happy to hear them so that this mystery can be solved!
Welcome to the Hometown Heritage (the branded name used by Fullhart Carnegie Charitable Trust) blog! My name is Jared Bloom, and I am the new intern here at Hometown Heritage. Since this is my first appearance on the blog, it seemed appropriate that I should introduce myself to you all, and tell you a little about who I am, what my goals are, and why I am with Hometown Heritage.
Let me start by saying a little more about myself. I graduated from the Perry High School in 2011, and I spent most of my childhood here as well, so I have many fond memories of our little town. I can remember the summer days of Friday Fest, with its stands of local products, live music, inflatable rides and more. I can remember when Shopko was still Pamida, and when Alco was still open for business. Even though some of these things have changed, there are plenty of familiar faces and places here in Perry, so the town feels like home. After High School, I chose to attend Iowa State University, and found that I was extremely interested in history. After spending four years there, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in History. During my time in the History department, I found that I was quite interested in Classical history (which generally involves the ancient Greeks and Romans). As part of this, I learned a little bit of Latin (how to write and read it at least), and spent 3 weeks in Italy in May of 2014. I went to see all the major landmarks like the Colosseum, and we even had a trip down to Pompeii. I also saw many of the minor landmarks (a cat sanctuary called the Largo di Torre Argentina comes to mind), and even managed to miss a bus and get lost for a while. The trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Looking toward the future, as a recent college graduate many opportunities have come knocking on my door and questioned what I was doing or where I was going. Often the response was “I haven’t thought about it yet” or “I’ll just go with the flow”, but eventually I had to sit down and think more seriously about the idea. As I did, a loose plan started to form in my head. After talking with a few professors and professionals, I decided that I am interested in working in a Museum setting, either as something like a Curator, or in a collections/preservation sort of role. I discovered that for me, this meant getting some good experience in the right kind of setting, and then going to a graduate school for a degree in Museum Studies. This is the part where Hometown Heritage enters into my plans.
Hometown Heritage is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to earn the kind of experience that I am looking for, and much more. I get to work not only with the kind of software that many museums use, but I also have the opportunity to earn some event managing experience, as there are various events coming up in this area that I am excited to have a hand in. However, experience is not the only reason I am here at Hometown Heritage. There is also the fact that this town, although not the first place I have memories of, is still my hometown, and it holds a special place in my heart. There is also plenty of history here in this town, even if it is not Classical History. I am aware of Hometown Heritage having one of the most extensive collections in the central U.S. for a small town. Within this collection, all of the stories that are told, the old photos and documents, the vintage collectables and works of art, and even the loose odds and ends have within them a special piece of this town’s history that I believe is worth preserving.
Preserving Perry’s history is a multifaceted job. Whether it be using our museum software, upcoming events, or simply digging through the mountains of boxes in our vault and backroom, I look forward to discovering new and exciting stories and experiences that I can share, with the rest of you, on this blog.