This week LHS is highlighting a unique artifact already on exhibit at Heritage Hall Museum: our Chautauqua industrial art desk. Manufactured in 1913, the desk has a green chalkboard on one side of a lift-top table, and a map of the USA on the other that shows a ranking of each state’s top products during that year. Inside, lessons and drawing instructions are written on a green, movable scroll. Our LHS chautauqua desk was donated by Jack and Diana Craig in 2002.
Chautauqua desks were first used as tools for educating Sunday school teachers, supporting the ideals of the popular Chautauqua movement that grew out of Chautauqua, New York in the late 1800s. They were later manufactured by Louis E. Myers & Co. of Valparaiso, Indiana, and sold door-to-door. More than one million desks were sold by 1913.
In 1972 Valparaiso Post-Tribune journalist Neal Boyer described the desks, saying “the Chautauqua Industrial Art Desk was an ingenious item. A folding wooden frame opened into an L-shaped chalkboard surface. Its outstanding feature was a scroll containing illustrations and facts on various topics.”
“When James O. Cox, a former salesman and later plant manager, first started selling desks in 1906, the cost was $3.75...they tried to expand their operation in the late '20s and early '30s. With the stock market crash and the Depression, the once-successful company folded. The last desk was made in 1929 and the factory closed a year later.”
The creation of the Chautauqua Movement in 1874 brought about a shift towards education and culture in the U.S. These art desks prepared children for their future vocations, but were also vital for developing self-expression and play, which educators realized were crucial to children’s imagination and growth. Today these antiques are scattered across the country in homes, furniture stores and right here in Lakeside at the Heritage Hall Museum. To find out more about the growth of the Chautauqua Movement, attend the Heritage Society “Historic Chautauqua Movement” seminar on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. at the Fountain Inn Aigler Room.
This spring the Lakeside Heritage Society Recycle Sale experienced a record outpouring of participation and support from the Lakeside Community. A great number of donated pieces found new homes where they will continue to help make Lakeside memories. Before the sale began, an LHS volunteer stumbled upon one item that we decided would be a priceless addition to our “Toys of Yesteryear” exhibit. That item is a vintage “yo-yo” clown doll, which will go on display this week at Heritage Hall.
Sometimes our homemade treasures are overlooked when we think about important pieces of the past, but those toys are often part of our fondest childhood memories. Historically, handcrafted toys like our “yo-yo” doll were constructed from familiar materials and household items that came in many shapes and forms. While no one is quite sure when “yo-yo” clown dolls first started gaining popularity, patterns began popping up around in the United States as early as the 1920s.
The “yo-yo” name comes from the individual circular pieces of fabric that are strung together to make the arms, legs and torso of colorful, huggable clowns. “Yo-yo” pieces were also used to make vibrant quilts, decorative garlands and flower brooches. Our lively “yo-yo” clown doll has sports a characteristic cone hat to cover golden yarn hair and is made up of more than ninety individual two inch fabric circles. Come visit Heritage Hall this week to look at some of Lakeside community’s historic treasures and see our newest additions to the “Toys of Yesteryear” exhibit.
Lakeside Heritage Society is currently accepting community donations for our Labor Day Weekend Recycle Sale. For more information, please contact Manager Dakota Harkins or stop by the Archives.
In this week’s addition to the “Toys of Yesteryear” exhibit at Heritage Hall, the Lakeside Heritage Society reminisces on the colorful cartoons and nursery rhymes of the past with a pair of children’s linenette picture books.
Full of cherubic children and colorful farm animals, both the Nursery Rhymes and Animal Friends books exhibit the characteristic cartoons of linen graphic artists in the 1930s and 1940s. Popularized by the Merrill Publishing Company out of Chicago, Illinois, linenette books often only acknowledged the illustrators, not the authors, due to their strong emphasis on the cartoons. The artists for the Heritage Hall artifacts, George Trimmer and Florence Salter, were two of the more popular Merrill Publishing Company illustrators of the era. By coupling bold paintings with memorable moral rhymes, the Merrill linenettes set the standard for read-aloud children’s books in the 20th century.
Both linenette books were donated to Heritage Hall by Gretchen S. Curtis, Lakeside Heritage Society education volunteer. The vibrant 1939 edition of Animal Friends, No. 3445 explores daily farm life with paintings of playful kittens, swimming ducks and a watchful mother hen. Lakesiders young and old will recognize familiar children’s songs and poems like “Humpty Dumpty” and “Mary, Mary” from the 1941 Nursery Rhymes, No. 3467. Make your way over to Heritage Hall and see how many other nursery rhymes you remember from our vintage book collection!
This week, the Lakeside Heritage Society is highlighting its newest addition to the "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit at Heritage Hall Museum: a vintage set of Tinkertoys.
The first set of wooden Tinkertoys was created just outside of Chicago in this early 1900s by inventor Charles Pajeau. After watching chidlren build with pencils and empty spools of thred, Pajeau developed his iconic construction pieces, utilizing a practical application of the Pythagoran Theorem for stabilization.
Pajeau then partnered with stockbroker Robert Petit to form The Toy Tinkers of Evanston and began building elaborate window displays in shops to attract customers. By the end of the first year of production, more than one million"Toy Construction Block" sets had been sold.
When Pajeau patented his invention in 1914, Tinkertoy construction pieces had already found a niche in the educational toy market. Each wooden spool had eight holes around the edges, drilled at 45 degree increments, with one hole in the middle.
Children built swings, towers and bridges by connecting the spools with simple wooden rods. Like other 20th century construction set, Tinkertoy tubes included instructions to inspire young architects. Designers chose the distinctive mailing package to save on shipping costs, but the memorable style remains after more than a century of distribution changes. Now Licensed by Hasbro, Tinkertoy continues to develop young builders and creative minds around the world.
Donated by LHS volunteer Gretchen S. Curtis, Heritage Hall Museum's Tinkertoy set contains all 95 parts in the toy's famous tube packaging. A Questor collection from the 1960s, it has the original directions for making everything from a Tinkertoy "Teeter Totter" to the more complicated "Whirly Tinker" or "Two Engine Airplane."
As one of the earliest forms of mass produced children's construction sets, it is not hard to imagine how many times young Lakesiders have used Tinkertoys for new dock, pavilion and cottage designs over the years. Visit Heritage Hall Museum to see the "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit and share your memories with us.
New for summer 2017 at the Lakeside Heritage Society Heritage Hall & Museum for 2017 is our "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit. Our first artifact addition is a vintage sock monkey, which was donated in 2016 by the family of Janet Kuhn Senne.
The origin of sock monkeys can be traced back to the late 18th century Victorian era when American mothers began imitating Europeans stuffed animal designs with household items. Nelson Knitting Mills in Rockford, Illinois began manufacturing their famous Rockford Red Heel socks in 1890, which quickly evolved into the most popular sock monkey material. Nelson Knitting Mills patented their red heeled socks in 1915, and the company renewed the sock monkey craze in the 1950s by including instructions for creating monkeys with ever pair of Red Heel socks they sold.
In 1958, How to Make Sock Toys was published by Pack-O-Fun, and the trend exploded. As most trends do, the craze faded for only a few decades before being renewed in the 1990s when the classic Red Heel sock monkeys found their way into storybooks and nurseries around the country. Babies Boomers began sharing their youthful memories with their children.
The Lakeside Heritage Society received its sock monkey in 2016 as a piece of Kuhn Senne's much larger collection of puppets and toys. Early play with this sock monkey may have inspired Kuhn Senne's lifelong passion for puppet making and puppeteering. Her profound interest influenced the organizaiton of weekly puppet shows at Lakeside's Bradley Temple.
Kuhn Senne passed in 2015 after owning her cottage at 337 Cedar Ave. with her husband, Donald, for 30 years. The rest of her puppet collection can be viewed in an online gallery at www.columbuspuppetryguild.org.
As the Heritage Society builds the "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit this summer, we ask the Lakeside community for help in recreating the story of childhood in Lakeside. If you have a toy or game used at Lakeside that you would like to share, stop by the Archives or contact manager Dakota Harkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.