June 21, 2007

A Childhood Memory

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:06 am by classicalmusic

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry supplied me with one of my most
memorable childhood recollections.

The Museum of Science and Industry

When I was about eight years old, my grandparents lived in Chicago,
Illinois.  We lived in Arlington, Virginia, and I remember one summer being
taken to Chicago to visit the “old folks”.  I really don’t like revealing this,
but I am talking about maybe sixty years ago!  My recollections of this visit
are vague:  a dip in the ice cold waters of Lake Michigan, good food cooked by
my grandmother, trying to understand what they were talking about in their heavy
Polish accents.

The one memory that stands out in my mind after all these years, is our visit
to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.  I am sure that we must have seen
many exhibits in the museum, but the highlight for me and my sister was the
visit to the museum’s coal mine.

Down the Coal Mine

The museum has simulated a real coal mine, 600 feet deep, with all the
paraphernalia of a 1930’s coal mine.  We were given real miners’ hard hats with
a light on the front.  We entered the miners’ “cage” and went deep down into the
mining seam.  There we were shown how the miners took out the coal from the seam
– at that time they still used pick axes – how the coal was loaded onto the coal
cars that often traveled miles down the seam, and how the coal was then poured
into a bin and taken up by that same cage that had brought us down.

Needless to say, for someone eight years old this was a mind-boggling
experience and also quite scary!  The coal mine, called Old Ben, was installed
in the museum in 1933.  I have not had the opportunity to visit Chicago since
those days, but I am sure that today’s Old Ben exhibit now also shows how coal
is mined in the 20th century.  If ever you get to Chicago, don’t miss this
exciting experience.

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