SPAM Museum, Austin, MN – 09 JUL 2012

I couldn't drive back to Illinois with out stopping at the SPAM Museum... dedicated to that meat product in a can that people either love or hate. 
No other American food product has had such a profound influence on world pop culture. It is the brunt of jokes, urban legends, folklore, Monty Python and unwanted email. 
TW helps a Farmer with his pigs.
  
Walking through the front door, I turned around to find a wall of SPAM made from 3,500 cans.
SPAM board with world dishes
There is a cyber diner where you can access official SPAM websites; a 42 seat theatre showing a film of old SPAM commercials and sponsored events; then a provisions market:
Hormel Provisions Market 1892-1922
  

George Hormel talks to son, Jay
  


Some of the other successful Homel brands...I was surprised to see my favorite wok oil among them:
Tinky Winky wanted to join the Hormel Girls but they disbanded in 1953. You can watch a snippet of their 1947 Christmas Show in this MINNPost article about them:
http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2007/11/spam-and-legs-hormel-girls-danced-sang-sold
SPAM was introduced in 1937 but spread across the world during WWII as 15 million cans were sent to troops every week.
Hawaii has the highest per capita consumption of SPAM in the United States at 7 million cans a year.
South Koreans consider SPAM to be an upscale food.
On March 22, 1994, Hormel Foods Corporation Celebrated the production of its' five billionths can of SPAM.
Above the production display...below an interactive assembly line where you can time how long it takes you to put together a can of SPAM.
Overhead, there is a conveyor belt containing over 800 cans of SPAM that takes 17 minutes to travel around part of the museum.
40's               /                  50's
Hormel hired George Burns and Gracie Allen to advertise SPAM on their radio show in the 1940s.
60's               /                 70's
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as a young 18 year-old working in her family's grocery store, remembers SPAM as a "wartime delicacy."
80's              /                90's
Everywhere you turned there were SPAM recipes ranging from Far East Meatballs and Musubi to Fajitas and Meatloaf.
                      Today                /   TW visits a hologram soldier
GIs called SPAM “ham that failed the physical.”  It wasn't that they didn't like it...they just didn't like having it for every meal.
Nikita Khrushchev once said, “Without SPAM, we wouldn't have been able to feed our army.”
Today there are several varieties of SPAM.
Not shown is the SPAM Exam room, where teams can compete in a mock game show, complete with a hologram host, to see who knows the most about SPAM. Really tests your retention of all the facts contain in the museum exhibits.
All things SPAM
My favorite display was the recreation of the Green Midget Cafe with the famous Monty Phython skit playing on the television. You can watch it on this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOlLjBwBMUE
This was the final sketch of the 25th show of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the ending credits continue the joke by adding  SPAM to everyone’s name.
As I was leaving town I spotted this Greek Revival house, former home of George A. Hormel, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
A few miles down the road and I felt like I was back in California.

50th Wedding Anniversary – 08 JUL 2012


The reason for the drive to Minnesota, was to attend my sisters' 50th Wedding Anniversary. Although they got married in August, this was the week-end they were able to secure a venue for the party. I put together a slide show of  photos from each year they were married, that we projected during the party. Here are a few highlights:
1962 (I'm on the far left)
1995
2010
Just before the party
At the party with daughter-in-laws and grandsons
It was really fun reconnecting with my childhoood best-friend/first cousin, Pam. 
Best Buddies
The 70’s when Mom and I visited Florida
Anniversary party

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library – 04 JUL 2012


Located in West Branch, Iowa, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is celebrating it’s 50 Anniversary.
It is very modern, as it went through massive renovation project and re-dedication in 1992.
Tinky Wiky sneaks into a display of what might be worn to a presidential dinner party.
There was a presidential dinner table display with a few modern plate patterns:
Clinton

Truman

Eisenhower

Wilson

Johnson

Reagan

This pattern was used for Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

Answer to: "What do I use when?" 

Shaken not stirred

The second of three children, his father was a blacksmith and his mother a Quaker minister. He was orphaned by the age of 10 and eventually went to live with his Uncle John (frontier physician and businessman) in Oregon. 
Without attending high school, Herbert learned bookkeeping, typing and mathematics at night school. 
He attended Stanford University the first year it opened, graduating in 1895 with a degree in geology. 
He worked in the California gold mines before joining a British firm and working as a mining engineer in Australia.
There was nothing in this display to explain who the woman is...the signage only talked about his work in China. Later, I read he married Lou Henry, who he met in college, in 1899, after which they immediately left for China, where they survived the Boxer Rebellion. 
From 1901 to 1908 he worked for Bewick, Moreing and Company where he became the “doctor of sick mines” circling the globe several time with his wife and two young sons. Next he established his own international firm of engineering consultants based in London. 
He became a high respected figure with his service as Secretary of commerce and his humanitarian efforts during WWI. He easily won the presidency in 1928 but when the stock market crashed, triggering the Great Depression, his popularity took a nose dive.
After 1940 the Hoovers lived at the Waldorf Towers in New York City...they had a recreation of their living room. The website showed a small gallery 8 titled “An Uncommon Woman” about Lou Hoover, but I must have missed it because I never saw an reference to his wife and was wondering if he was a bachelor until I saw a postcard of Lou Hoover, in the gift shop. I talked to the attendant about there being no mention of his wife and she said, “They wanted the museum to focus on him.”
Lou died 1944 and Herbert in 1964, by which time he had rehabilitated his image. As of today, he holds the record for the longest retirement of any President...until this year if Jimmy Carter lives past September, he'll break his record.
About Lou: The first woman in America to earn a geology degree. Traveling around the world with her husband, she raised their two sons. During the Boxer Rebellion, she nursed the wounded, scrounged up food, medicine and clothing for the injured and stood guard duty on barricades...calling China, “the most interesting siege of the age.” As First Lady, she prepared an exhaustive social history of the White House and stirred up controversy by inviting Jessie DePriest, wife of an African American Congressman, to a White House tea party. Check out the Story:
http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_shows/depriest-tea-incident/first-lady-lou-hoover.html


After driving through Iowa, I finally made it to Minnesota and my sister’s house where Tinky Winky found a new best friend.