Emily Gilmore’s Smithsonian Spoon

A souvenir spoon from the Smithsonian Institute

One of the most famous collectors of souvenir spoons is Emily Gilmore. A resident of Connecticut, Mrs. Gilmore has collected spoons for nearly 45 years.

This specimen was donated to the SHUSH Museum when she inherited a collection from her husband’s aunt Cecile, and found that there were a number of duplicate spoons in the combined collection.

Ben Franklin’s Macaroni Art

A picture of a boat with a man in a tri-corn hat made of pasta glued with candle wax
Ben Franklin was taken by the sea and by boats at a young age and envisioned a life on the sea. In anticipation of this, he became a deft swimmer and thought about boats.

This love of aquatics is seen in this curious exhibit, a strange collage of pasta shaped into a simple sailing vessel on the sea. The pasta is affixed to the craft paper with melted candles and it is this that earns familial ire, and is noted in an admonitory report from his public grammar school teacher.

While the report has long ago been lost, a description of its content was found in the journal of Ben’s father, Josiah, who was a tallow chandler. According to this source, the note chastised the lad for his use of the expensive candles to adhere the material. His teacher was certain that the use of the more expensive items was a sign that young Benjamin lacked appropriate judgement and was given to frivolous waste of expensive materials. She suspected that the materials were taken without permission, and indicated the lad was destined for a life of sloth and criminal behavior.

There are some who note that the feather in the tri-corn hat is also made of macaroni.

Johnny Appleseed’s Appleseeds

A cloth bag spilling over with apple seeds

John Chapman, (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845) commonly known as Johnny Appleseed, traveled through the country planting trees.  He was known for his generosity and peculiar way of dressing.

Chapman never married, and when he died he left over 1000 acres of trees. The seeds of his preferred apple, a varietal which came to be known as “The Johnny Appleseed,” produces an apple that is especially good for baking and for applesauce.

Davy Crockett’s Pet Rock

The “King of the Wild Frontier”  grew up in Tennessee, where he became known as a hunter and a teller of stories. As a  member of the militia, he gained a reputation as a frontiersman and fighter.

He served in the Tennessee state government, and eventually represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was known for  opposing President Jackson’s policies, particularly in regard to the Native Americans, and this led to his defeat in the 1831 elections. When he failed to be re-elected in 1835, he made the decision to go to Texas, which was at that time still part of Mexico. When he left his home where, as the song says, “he knew every tree,” he picked up a rock, and took it with him to remind him of his family and the land he knew so well.

Not long after he arrived,in Texas, he became involved in the revolution, and he died in march, 1836, defending the Alamo. His son bequeathed this token from his final effects to the SHUSH Museum.

Suburban Stone Circle

A collection of stones in a circleWhen I’m not preventing the dog from finding truffles and fights, or assessing the historical implications of various structures in the neighborhood, I take in the scenery. My neighborhood is filled with unexpected and unusual yard decorations.

Take the fascinating rock garden of one house I pass often. It’s a miniature henge. In the front yard. The tallest stone is about a foot tall, but I wonder about it every time I pass. I wonder if they built it to transport people to 18th century Scotland. I vaguely entertain the idea of stepping into the circle on a solstice to meet a smoking hot Highlander. Maybe *this* is why the neighborhood just to the south of mine is known as the Highlands.

My luck would be that I’d get there, and the smokin’ hot Scot would pay no attention to me as I am not a smokin’ hot English lady, and then I’d be stuck in a much worse place to be a single woman of a certain age than is 21st century Denver. Even worse than having no flushing toilet and no internet, I’d have zero prospects and would probably starve. If I could survive a few weeks to get to a big city, I suppose I could try to be a teacher or a governess, but my one year of Latin is not going to cut it in the 18th century marketplace, and having practically no French would pretty much kill that notion.  I suppose common sense and basic first aid might get me a nursing job, but that alone is enough to keep me from looking ridiculous passing through the stones of my neighbor’s front yard.

Yeah. Fear of it working. That’s the ridiculous part.

Of course, it just occurred to me that the stones aren’t known to transport a person in time AND space. They aren’t exactly a TARDIS, after all. I’d be in 18th century Colorado, which means I’d be a white woman in a red man’s world. Depending on the time of year, it might be months before I would see a soul. I might have a better shot with a smokin’ hot Native American fellow, if I can manage to survive the fantastic beasts of the Rocky Mountains. Clearly, I need to start carrying a knife with me on walks in case of a sudden urge to time travel.

As I was walking the dog on Friday night, a new item had appeared in the yard. Sadly, it was not a Scot. It was, instead, a “for sale” sign. I’m now worried that the house will go to someone who won’t appreciate the curious ring of rocks in their front yard, and will have them removed. Maybe there’s someone reading this who *NEEDS* their very own stone circle, and would be interested in having it. The house is not large and you’d have to have me as a neighbor, but if you are undeterred, I can get you the details.

Extinct Lichen Specimen

Extinct Lichen Species in Collage

This specimen is the only remaining evidence of a now extinct lichen native to Lithuania, Arctoparmelia Centrifuga. Included in the montage is a leaf of the tree where the lichen had found its home.

Numerous attempts to use the specimen to reintroduce the lichen to its home have failed, and this one remnant of the the species remains in the SHUSH collection, until science can find a way to bring it back.

Preventing Canine World War

Where were we?

Let’s see. I had shared with you some of the activities I have used to fill the time walking the dog, which included really terrible, useless punchlines, and pastimes of dubious entertainment value.

And, while I shared with you the weakest of my walking writing work, there have been other bits that have found success in other writing, most of which hasn’t been seen by anyone yet. That’s a really cruel bit of teasing there, and I’m sorry about that.

The sadder truth is that I can only devote part of my attention to writing, as the larger share needs to go to the canine, in the event that our path crosses that of other furry mammals. People are fine, but, cats, dogs, squirrels, skunks and raccoons are serious hazards.

This is where I tell you that the adorable little ball of white fur is a gigantic bully.

If she sees a fur creature, she will immediately start barking at it and charge it at full speed, risking dislocation of my shoulder in the process. It matters not if the creature is much bigger than she is, or if they are behaving themselves and offering no challenge, their mere existence is sufficient to merit aggression. My job is to prevent her from noticing them.

First, as much as possible, it’s important to go after sunset.  My walking companion is no longer a puppy, even if there’s no convincing her of this fact, nor would it be evident to an outside observer.  Her eyesight at night has suffered the effects of aging, and I’m not ashamed of taking advantage of this frailty if it means that I have help in keeping myself free of skunk stench. I also tend to choose routes that are in the most dog-free parts of the neighborhood, which means that the scenery is boring, and therefore, largely predictable.

Another weapon in my arsenal of preventing canine conflict is the retractable leash with shoulder harness combo. As soon as I see a potential problem brewing, I begin to shorten her leash, and if possible, perform an emergency re-route. If she’s seen the incoming target, however, re-routing will be nearly impossible, and it’s time to grab her harness, pick her off her feet, and carry her.  This is vaguely reminiscent of holding a large sack of loud, squirmy, scratchy pythons. I try to avoid the nuclear python option as much as possible.

Every night is an adventure in preventing the anarchy of canine fight club while trying to achieve the quest of eliminating biological waste.  It sure sounds better than simply “walking the dog” when you put it this way.

Maggie Simpson’s Pacifier

Maggie SImpson's Pacifier

Since 1989, we have invited the Simpson’s family into our homes. This iconic possession of the youngest member of the family, is one of the most unique items in the SHUSH collection.

Over the years, Maggie has gone through nearly 500 of these comfort objects, indicating that her 28 year old oral fixation might indicate significant mental health issues, and have long-term physical side effects.

Maggie is sometimes called “The Forgotten Simpson,” as she is a toddler of few words. She has a bond with Moe, the bartender and owner of Moe’s, and has a nemesis in the form of Gerald Samson, the single-browed toddler who shares her birthday.

Passing the Passeggiata

As you might recall, I have been lately responsible for the walking of the dog that lives at my house.

Some days, this is a more pleasant task than others. I’ve been trying to make the best of these trips, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of my collected observations of meandering about the neighborhood behind the leash of a tiny white dog.

First, there is a game I like to play called “Architectural Forensics,” which, at the very least, probably sounds nothing like a game at all to most of you, and at the most doesn’t even sound like an amusement of any sort.

For those that chimed in that “it sounds nothing like a game,” you would be correct. It’s nothing like a game. I just call it that for lack of a more efficient noun.

Actually, I lied.

I don’t call it a game in my head, because, until I decided to share it with you, it only existed in my head, and I wasn’t anticipating sharing it with anyone, so, I didn’t call it anything, I just amused myself with it.

This thing I’ve been building up for three paragraphs as a “game,” will never live up to the preceding paragraphs, and once I’ve actually shared with you what it is, you’ll probably roll your eyes and proclaim it not worth wading through the tedious introductory paragraphs. Sorry about that.

Anyway, now that I’ve named it to tell you about it, “architectural forensics” is where I pay careful attention to the buildings in my ‘hood and try to figure out which are the oldest homes. I live in one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, officially the city’s first “streetcar suburb,” which means that the oldest homes were built in the late 19th century. I look for the tell-tale signs of chimneys in places that have changed to vinyl siding from wood, or brick houses that hint to a different era from the old Victorians or “Queen Anne revival” numbers. Then there are the ones like my own, that were built in the 1940s as duplexes. Many of those have since been made into single homes (mine is still a duplex). I ponder their histories and wonder who lived in them when they were new.

Now that you’ve all made mental notes to “just say no,” if I ever invite you over for “entertainment,” I will concede that after a few weeks of this and pretty much running out of “new” houses to assess on any of the various routes, this stopped being a way to pass the time.

Instead, I have taken to some composing.

Like, I imagine encountering someone who thinks I’ve allowed the dog to eliminate her solid waste matter without cleaning up after her, and then I indignantly wave the collection bag at them and say “This isn’t a bag of Hershey’s miniatures!”

I’ve worked on perfecting this for longer than I’d care to admit, and naturally, this line has never been used. It started out as “cracker jack,” but that didn’t last long, opting for the more juvenile implications of chocolate colored candies.

This “composing” time has not been wasted, as now I’ve shared it with you. You might not be thanking me.

Tune in next week for another glimpse into my “Walking World.”

Oh, and hey…
Remember that thing I was starting in January? It’s still going on. You can catch-up with it here: SHUSH Museum.

Mysterious Sculpture

Abstract sculpture of a human-like figure

This sculpture was found during an archeological dig in a the ruins of a Roman village, dated from the first century. The mystery of this unusual statue is that it is not congruent with Roman iconography, techniques or materials. The figure has an abstract human shape, with arms wrapping around the base and stretching to the face, with crude lines inscribed to roughly indicate fingers, of which there are only four. on each hand. Similar lines mark out the features of a basic face.

The fingers are oddly elongated and resemble flippers as much as they resemble hands. The head’s unusual shape combined with the flapper-like hands and fingers, have caused some to speculate that the work is evidence of extraterrestrial visitors.

Some speculate that the sculpture itself is created by these visitors, an example of their own art. Others surmise that the item was created by a citizen of the village, who was given materials to create a portrait of these unusual visitors.