Student Museum Musings – Peter

By Peter M., Archives Assistant Student

A train halted a moment at the station and the traveler reached out, called a small boy, and said, “Son, here’s fifty cents.  Get me a twenty-five cent sandwich and get one for yourself.  Hurry up!”
Just as the train pulled out, the boy ran up to the window.  “Here’s your quarter, mister,” he shouted.  “They only had one sandwich.”
(GM War-Craftsman, June 1943)

This is one example of a joke I came across during my cataloguing of various documents here in the archives of the Oshawa Museum.  I am a student that has been working here over the summer for just over a month now.  I have always been fascinated by the stories that new artefacts or documents coming to us can tell, but one theme that has really caught my eye recently is jokes.  Most of the documents I found containing jokes range throughout the 1940s.  Some appeared in sections of official newsletters, while others were scribbled into the pages of students’ workbooks, as they were each encouraged to write a page full of all the jokes they could think of as a class exercise.

Johnny: (buying a ticket for New York).
Clerk: “Would you care to go by Buffalo?”
Johnny: “I don’t know.  I’ve never ridden one.”
(GM War-Craftsman, October 1943)

The majority of the jokes I came across were gathered from a collection of General Motors newsletters called the War-Craftsman.  The newsletters in the museum’s collection range from 1942-1946.  These newsletters were a way of keeping the public informed of the events and contributions conducted by GM and its employees during World War II.  There was a column present in nearly all of these newsletters titled “Gems of Comedy,” where numerous jokes were printed each month.  Much like the rest of the War-Craftsman, these jokes served to keep spirits up, and inspire the public to keep moving forward during such trying times in our history.

At a recent shipyard launching, the woman who was to christen the boat was quite nervous.
“Do you have any questions, lady?” asked the shipyard manager, just before the ceremony.
“Yes,” she replied meekly.  “How hard do I have to hit it to knock it into the water?”
(GM War-Craftsman, October 1943)

It is interesting to see how comedy has evolved through the ages.  The jokes that I present you with are but a small few of the many that I found.  Most of the jokes I did not understand, showing how some comedy doesn’t quite translate through the ages.  Several others admittedly had themes that would be considered highly inappropriate by today’s standards, but they do serve show how society has changed, now having any jokes in publications today strive to be politically correct, while also maintaining the lightheartedness that was enjoyed by Oshawa citizens over sixty years ago.

Reporter:  To what do you to attribute your great age?
Grandpa:  The fact that I was born so long ago.
(GM War-Craftsman, December 1945)

 

Student Museum Musings – Lauren

By Lauren R., Summer Student

In my time as a co-op student, a volunteer, and now as a working summer student I have learned that at the museum you never know what to expect when you show up for work. When I started my summer position this year I honestly had no clue what I was in for; I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing and I had no clue what kind of projects I would be working on.

Despite this uncertainty, I was incredibly excited to start in my new position and I knew that no matter what I did I would love it (every project is exciting in its own way). This summer I got assigned a project that was even more exciting than I ever could have imagined! My summer project is to create a new audio tour for the houses! For this I will be looking at talking more about the families in the houses instead of just the houses  themselves. Also, I will be looking quite a bit at the heritage gardens of Henry House and adding this new information to the tour as it was not part of the original tour.

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Woolly Lamb’s Ear

The Henry House heritage gardens is home to an assortment of interesting (and strange) plants. The Henry House garden is designed to display what an everyday garden would have looked like, similar to what the Henry’s themselves would have had. It is split into different sections depending on what the use of the plant is. There is one garden dedicated to tea, another to dyes and the last to herbs and plants that can be used for medical and other practical purposes. In the practical garden there are eight sections: practical, protection, serious conditions, culinary, insect control, healing, cough control, and calming.

So far, out of the many plants that I have researched and looked at in the garden, I have found four that continue to catch my interest. The first two belong in the healing section of the garden. The first plant is Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium). This plant is used to reduce blood pressure and, if the fresh leaves are put into a poultice, it can stop bleeding from cuts and scrapes and things of that kind. Another plant that is found in this portion of the garden is Woolly Lamb’s Ear. This plant is really cool as it feels fuzzy and is soft to the touch. The way that the Henrys may have put this plant to use would have been as bandages to keep cuts clean and covered, the soft texture of these leaves being non-aggravating to injured skin.

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Valerian

Another plant, in the calming section, that I find interesting is Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis). This plant would have been used to help prevent nightmares and to reduce anxiety. However, if too much is taken (or if it is taken for too long) it can cause some adverse side effects such as hallucinations, abdominal pain and headaches.  The final plant that catches my eye, or rather my nose, in our garden is Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis).  This plant is part of the tea garden. Lemon Balm is an incredibly versatile plant. It can be used as an extract to add flavour to dishes, added to a relaxing bath, applied to help soothe insect bites, used to make soothing teas (for headaches and nausea), lessen depression, eczema and it can even help allergy sufferers. In addition to all of this, Lemon Balm can help clean and heal wounds as it acts as an antiviral substance and will starve the bacteria in the wound of oxygen thereby killing it.

 

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Lady Bug on Tea Plant

There are really some incredible plants in the Henry House garden. What is even more incredible is to think that all of these plants would have been used in some way by the Henry family in their everyday lives.

Student Museum Musings – Gabby

When I first started my co-op, I knew I would be here during the change of exhibits within Robinson House. What I did not know is how active I would be in the instillation. I expected to take predetermined artefacts and put them in predetermined places. However, what I got was almost the exact opposite.

Melissa Cole has been super amazing and allowed me to pick multiple of the artefacts that are going into the exhibit. I have chosen cameras, pottery pieces, medical instruments, photos and even quotations.

Student Museum Musings 1

The entire process is much harder then it seems. You would think that it is as simple as picking some artefacts and laying them out nice and pretty; while that is actually what happens, it is hard. “The bigger artefacts go in the back and the smaller in the front, right?” Wrong. “These two are similar colours so they go on the same side.” Nope. “I can do this in half an hour and then get to the other project I am working on.” You wish.

Student Museum Musings 2

While figuring out how to best display artefacts is difficult, so is choosing them. While some artefacts have dear little places in our own hearts, we also have to consider which artefacts the community wants to see. I may love one for one reason where someone else dislikes it for the same reason.

Student Museum Musings 3

The other aspect of picking artefacts that makes doing so difficult is that there are so many. I want to pick them all. If I could, I would put all 300+ cameras on display. However, that is an insane number of cameras and so only nine or ten can actually go out! That is only 3% of that entire collection. See where the difficulty lies?

Another cool thing about the new exhibit is how the two halves of my co-op are coming together. I get to promote it on social media, and even design activities for visitors to do while taking tours!

Student Museum Musings 4

I hope that all of you who come to see the new exhibit Celebrating 60 Years enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed helping with its creation. This amazing exhibit runs from April to November 2017.

Logo for OMA copy

Student Museum Musings – Durham LIT Students

Their semester has wrapped up, but before they were finished, two students from the Durham College Library & Information Technician program shared their experiences as interns at the Oshawa Museum.  Here’s what they had to say.

Jenn

As part of the final year at Durham College’s Library and Information Technician program, I am at the Oshawa Museum completing field placement hours. I have had the opportunity to work on the museum’s newest publication – The Annotated Memoirs of Rev. Thomas Henry. I got thrown onto this project as a sort of “happy accident:”  I was originally slated to be working in the archive, but help was needed elsewhere.

The book is being annotated by Laura Suchan, Executive Director of the Oshawa Museum, and Stoney Kudel, president of the Oshawa Historical Society. I have been designing the overall layout of the book.

A973.13.1_1

A973.13.1 – Elder Thomas Henry

As an out-of-town student, working on this book has been my introduction to the history of Oshawa and the Henry family. I can’t begin to say how much research has gone into this publication. On my part, it was mostly because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the stories that I was reading about, and I wanted to relate what was happening in Oshawa (then East Whitby Township) to what I knew about the history of Ontario and Canada as a whole.

The museum is fortunate enough to have a lot of the Henry family’s history. I’ve had the opportunity to search through letters, early censuses and photographs, all in the sake of finding information for this book. I’ve enjoyed learning the different histories – being told to sit down and do research has been a dream these past few months.

Unfortunately, with the semester ending, I am finished my internship at the museum, and as of now, the book is not yet complete, though it should be soon. I look forward to seeing how all the work we’ve done comes together in print.


Amanda

I’m a firm believer in what we learn from our past will guide us in the future so history has always been a huge interest of mine. Learning about how an archive and museum are run in class was fun, but actually getting to come into the archives and be able to see and touch history with my own two hands was another experience all together. From my time at the archives I was able to see the real behind the scenes of how an archives is run and operated daily. Through the task I was assigned I got to see what it was like to actually go through a donation and learned the value of recording everything. I also got a chance to see just how much time one project can take. From going through the newspapers, clipping, photocopying, and encasing them it took around 19 hours. With how little staff and money is usually given to archives you can see how much one person needs to do.

I’m very grateful for the experience! and now when I go to museums/archives I will truly know the value of them, not just from a preserving history stance.


Thank you to Jenn and Amanda for sharing their stories!

Want to know more about our Winter Semester post-secondary students? Jenn, Peter, Sarah, and Elora introduced themselves in an earlier post!

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Shakespeare in Oshawa

By Gabby C., co-op student

William Shakespeare was an English playwright who wrote his way into the hearts of many, while breaking those of his famous characters. Majority of schools make kids learn the names of these characters in English class, sitting and waiting for something to make sense. Yet, Shakespeare survives not just in the classrooms, but out and about Oshawa as well. The question is how did he manage to make it to Oshawa from across the pond? The answer is simple: street names.

shakespeare

This portrait is known as the ‘Chandos portrait’ after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5442977

Shakespeare was born on an undetermined date in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Within his life, he wrote more than 30 plays as well as poems. Though he is known for writing within the genres of comedy, history and tragedy, the latter is home to his most famous plays. For generations, Shakespeare has surprised, and shocked audiences while exposing humanity’s faults in the process. While there is a Shakespeare Avenue within Oshawa, there are also streets named after some of his famous characters!

Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest play, but that does not make it any less action packed or dramatic than the others. Macbeth centres around the title character while he dives head first into madness as a consequence of playing with fate. When a group of witches predict that Macbeth will become king, he takes their prophecy to the next level. In an attempt to go from Thane of Glamis and Cawdor, he kills King Duncan and takes the throne. However, this course of action throws the world into chaos and it is up to one not of woman born to defeat Macbeth and return order.

macbethandbanquo-witches

By Théodore Chassériau – Musée d’Orsay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=684950

As stated, Macbeth is Thane of Glamis. In reality, Glamis is a small town in Scotland;you can find Glamis Court southwest of the Rossland/Thornton intersection in Oshawa, along with other streets named after places in Scotland!

However, Macbeth is not Shakespeare’s only plays with ties in Oshawa.  King Lear also has a couple of streets named after its characters.

cordelia-in-the-court-of-king-lear-1873-sir-john-gilbert

By John Gilbert – Bridgeman Art library (painting in Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19793496

King Lear is another one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. It follows an old king, Lear, as he struggles with the consequences of believing lies told to him by his two oldest daughters, and banishing those – including his third daughter – who tried to help him see through the fog. The play watches as Lear descends into misery while struggling to reassume power. His three daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia, are all married. Goneril to the Duke of Albany. Duke of Albany is a real title that was bestowed to the youngest sons of the Scottish and eventually British royal family. In Oshawa, however, it is name to Albany Drive!

So, next time you’re driving around Oshawa, keep an eye out for the above-mentioned roads or any others with Shakespeare related names! There is bound to be more out there!


This blog series is typically written by Lisa Terech, Community Engagement co-ordinator, but we were excited when our co-op student offered to guest author this post!

For further reading on William Shakespeare, visit the following sites:

http://www.biography.com/people/william-shakespeare-9480323

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Macbeth-by-Shakespeare

https://www.britannica.com/topic/King-Lear