When I give tours of the Heritage Collection storage area, I show examples of everything from Ball jars to artwork to furniture to clothing. More often than not, the piece of clothing that gets the most oohs and aahs, sometimes even from the men, is an evening gown and matching coat from the Jackie Kennedy era. Both pieces are made of heavy silk dyed a bright spring green. They are heavily beaded and sequined. The ensemble was tailored by George Chen & Co., Ltd. of Peninsula Court Kowloon, Hong Kong.
When Phil Ball, of the “original” Ball family, passed away on February 4, 2016, Minnetrista lost another good friend. He and his wife Esther, who died in January 2015, donated money to the Annual Campaign and Endowment Fund, and artifacts to the Minnetrista Heritage Collection. More than that, though, they gave of themselves.
Minnetrista lost a dear friend when Bill Mann passed away on New Year’s Day. Bill was a Minnetrista fixture from the time he became property manager to the most recent Farmers Market days. He greeted everyone with a wide smile, a firm handshake, and often, a big bear hug.
For many in Muncie, a wonderful tradition was viewing the Christmas windows at McKinley Junior High School. The school, located next to the Muncie Fieldhouse on North Walnut Street, was built in the late 1930s. It had a large arched window in the façade that faced North Walnut. Starting in 1939, that window was decorated by the students each Christmas.
I’ve mentioned former curator of business and industry, Dick Cole, on several occasions in this blog. While at Minnetrista, he worked extensively with the Ball company and family collections, but he often ventured into other subjects. He wrote the following story about Robert Patterson, a little remembered but obviously accomplished Muncie citizen.
Automotive Hall of Fame, that is. Several years ago, after visiting The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, my husband and I stopped by the Automotive Hall of Fame. Imagine my surprise when I rounded a corner and saw an entire display on Ralph Teetor. Wow, a display on a man from Hagerstown, Indiana. But, of course, it made sense. Teetor was a big deal in the automotive industry.
I’m going to veer off of the featured historical artifact path and talk about the upcoming Open Space: Art About the Land juried art exhibition opening September 19 at Minnetrista. Early in 2001, Muncie artist Brian Gordy asked, “Would you be interested in collaborating with Red-tail Land Conservancy on a juried art show?” Of course, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” And, thus, a lovely partnership began.
With a great map in hand, you can dream about exploring a different city, state, country, or continent. You can even go back in time and, in some cases, way, way back in time. One of more than 80 maps in the collection donated by Edmund F. Ball is titled America Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio. The black and white wood-engraved map from a 1588 – yes, that is the correct date – atlas shows a much different America than the one we know. The map locates the village of “Quivera” in what is now California and inland “kingdoms” with names like “Anian” and “Tolm” to the north and east. In the center of the continent are “Tiuguas rio,” “Marata,” and “Terlichiechi.” Makes you wonder what happened to all of these places. Do they still exist? What is the English name?
In the early 20th century, Harriett Mitchell Anthony, a.k.a. “Diamond Heels Hattie” and “Hattie Bell” made quite a splash in her hometown of Muncie for her extraordinary clothing and for her shoes set with diamonds in the heels.
Ouch! With its thirty sharp needles, the medical instrument known as the “life awakener” or Lebenswecker in German most likely caused more pain than it cured. The hollow ebony tube contained a handle with a coiled spring attached. When this spring was released, the needles punctured the patient’s skin, injecting oil known as Oleum, otherwise known as fuming sulphuric acid. Again, ouch.