Monday, September 12, 2011

Eastern Oregon Trip: Museums

First view on entering the Adler Museum
We managed to pack two or three days into one. On our one full day away from home, we managed to see two museums, travel the Elkhorn Scenic Byway, which included several "ghost towns" and a state heritage sight, the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, and a moonlight ride on an historic train.

After our leisurely room service breakfast, we were ready to do some of that walking around and about that tourists do, so first we went to the Adler House Museum. We happened to arrive just as the museum guide was starting a tour.

Leo Adler lived his entire life in this house, was a major philanthropist in Baker City, never married, and left his fortune to Baker County, including his house. Once he lived alone in the house he closed up the entire upstairs, closed up the front rooms, and only lived in two rooms in the rear of the house.  The unused rooms became unheated storage rooms.  In some ways this helped preserve household pieces, as they went unused, but weather extremes probably didn't help, and the rooms were never cleaned.  Leo was a generous person, and if someone said they liked something, he was apt to give it to the unique lamp at the bottom of the stairs.  Leo had given it away to a friend, but museum curators were able to ask for, and get it back.  The butler's pantry did not have a full set of dishes because Leo gave many of those away too.

foil award from the Pope
Leo receives award for good deeds from the Pope
As we proceeded on the tour, I found myself wondering about those parts left unsaid.  Why did Leo and his sister and his brother never marry?  Was it because they were Jewish and perhaps there weren't many Jewish people in Oregon?  Did any of them have lovers?  Our guide showed us a "Chap Book".  I didn't get it right away, as I immediately thought of the usual usage of the term.  She told us young ladies of the day would keep a book like this to keep track of their dates and whether they liked them.  Oooohhh! Chap book.  They called them "chaps" in the day.  It was the size of a yearly diary, and with room for about 5 chaps per page, there was room for a lot of chaps.  It looked as though Elizabeth had many entries, a good twenty pages, though it nowhere near filled the book.  All her entries listed the eye eyes...brown eyes...but as far as I could see as the guide riffed through the book, no opinions on how she liked the boys.  Poor Elizabeth died at the age of 33 of the flu.  Before that she taught kindergarten in the home.  Were all these chaps unworthy, or was Elizabeth just not interested in that?  Leo too?  Even with prejudice, he would have been a fine catch, but it seems he was uninterested. 

sister Elizabeth
for more photos from the Adler House Museum, go here
Since we happened upon the tour, we took a little longer here than we intended.  Next, we went to the Baker Heritage Museum.  Like the Tillamook Museum, which I am fond of visiting when at the coast, there was an interesting mix of natural history and people history. Whenever I visit these exhibits, it reignites my interest in rocks and fossils.  Among the many collections I had as a tween was a rock and fossil collection.  I keep meaning to ask my mom what happened to that.  I doubt she still has it.

After I got my camera out in readiness, and as we showed our tickets we'd got at the first museum (it cost less to visit both), my sweetie pointed out the sign that said no photography was allowed.  The clerk told us photos were okay, just no flash was allowed.  Good thing, because there was too much to see, and photos help me reflect on and remember things.

Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace
I noticed that when you visit small museums like this, the exhibits depicting life back when look very similar...especially the schoolrooms. However, this museum also had rooms that depicted very specific pieces of Baker County history, such as the shop that Leo Adler's father owned, The Crystal Palace.

What might make these little County museums unique are these specific histories.  In Tillamook, there's an entire wall of portrait photos of founding citizens (see Elbridge Trask, immortalized by Don Berry in Trask).  Here, there was a particular focus on mining and logging history, as well as these scenes featuring the histories of specific citizens.  And I wonder, do all these museums have some stuffed animals?  I remind myself these animals would long be dead already anyway.

Coming next, our scenic drive. I leave you with the photo of the model for the film set of Paint Your Wagon.
film set model for Paint Your Wagon
For more photos of the Baker Heritage Museum collections, go here.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

I should add, my sweetie is very good at posing for photos, unlike me. Be sure to visit the rest of the photos to see his interactions with the animals, and my attempts to do so too.