Since the old Warner Gear building was sold recently, I thought that I’d write about it or some of the products made there. We’ve received several collections lately that include Warner Gear materials—newsletters, correspondence, photos, etc. I love to read the old newsletters, so I pulled out a Gear-O-Gram from September 1946, and the first thing I noticed was an article titled Ellen Ross Now MGM Starlet: Former Traffic Clerk on Road to Movie Fame. The heck with transmissions; let’s talk about a movie starlet from Muncie.
From the time that planning for Minnetrista began in the mid-1980s, there was always to be a sculpture in the middle of the circle drive in front of the Center Building. Minnetrista Cultural Center opened in 1988 with no sculpture, and it took another sixteen years before one was erected. But what a sculpture it is!
When we think of Muncie, cartoons, and cartoonists, the first thought is usually of Jim Davis and Garfield. The second thought may be of T.K. Ryan and his comic “Tumbleweeds.” But before these two cartoonists, there was the original Muncie cartoonist, Chic Jackson.
Let’s be honest, everyone loves a good scandal—at least once in a while. They typically come with a good dose of intrigue, rumor, and information that always seems to reveal itself at just the right time. These are the kinds of stories that the media jumps on! And what sells better than a juicy story?
Photographs are all around us. They cover the pages of popular magazines, are included in newscasts, are highlighted on media feeds, and are scattered around our homes. The Minnetrista Heritage Collection contains thousands of photos that document life in East Central Indiana. Some are casual photos taken by everyday citizens showing daily life and events around the area. Others document schools and businesses. Many were taken by professional photographers who called East Central Indiana home.
Thoughts of home, family, and sweethearts were never far from the minds of the men and women who served during World War II. Mail call was a much anticipated time of the day, and letters were read, re-read, and read once again. Soon after the United States entered the war, the volume and bulk of mail became problematic for the Post Office and the War and Navy Departments. Officials looked no farther than the British Airgraph Service for a solution. That solution was to microfilm correspondence going both to and from the home front, thus reducing both bulk and weight.
In 1900 one of the most popular men in United States’ politics hit the presidential campaign trail. And no, it wasn’t the President. Up for re-election was Republican William McKinley. Enjoying popularity across the country, McKinley’s previous vice-president had passed away in office. When it was time to run for re-election he weighed his options for a new vice presidential candidate. Although there were plenty of options, he ultimately chose New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt.
Several days ago I needed to find a Ball Stores advertisement celebrating Japan’s surrender, in the Muncie Evening Press on August 14, 1945. I knew that the advertisement was in that particular paper, and I knew exactly where the newspaper was located. Doesn’t seem like a problem, does it? Unfortunately, it was. There were about thirty newspapers in the box dating from the 1920s to the 1990s. The rest of the afternoon was shot. I can’t pass up old newspapers.
The next time that you’re in the Center Building at Minnetrista, stop in the Heritage Collection Gallery to see glass, and lots of it. There is the sublime—the beautiful paperweight made by St. Clair Glass Company—to the supremely useful—an insulator made by Hemingray Glass Company. What do these two very different pieces of glass have in common? Sand! Yep, sand. Plus a few other ingredients, such as limestone, and soda ash. So what determines the color of glass? Again, sand.
Working with the Minnetrista Heritage Collection I have the daily fun of interacting with “old stuff.” This stuff might be someone’s baby dress from the 1890s, a favorite cereal bowl (admit it, you have one in your own kitchen), or one of the first ball jars made in Muncie. Now, I realize this might not sound all that exciting to everyone. Imagine this, however. Each of these items is a portal to a different time and place. Just like a good book, that cereal bowl may have a unique story to tell. What if that bowl held one of the first pours of a new product in 1916—Kellogg’s All Bran. Holding the bowl you could imagine how hungry stomachs were tamed. You could almost feel the crunch of the cereal in your teeth. And you might envision a family moving through their morning routine just as your family does today.