Monday, January 21, 2013

Of Wheels and Raccoons

Will this post be about LeRoy's transportation museum, or will it be about roadkill? I'm not sure yet, so I guess we'll have to take our chances.

When Ivan and I went to the Jell-O Museum in LeRoy, we were surprised to discover that there's another entire museum in the basement, which is full of old carriages and sleighs and transporty things of that nature.

Covered wagon (1840s)


The first thing you'll notice is that this wagon is not covered. You can't have everything. It's the non-covered part of a covered wagon, which is cool enough. Having written and thought about covered wagons a lot lately, I was kind of horrified by how small it is. Imagine putting your entire family's necessary belongings in this wagon. I think I have more toiletries than would fit comfortably in here. What also impressed me is how thick the wood is, and how sturdy the wheels are. This is one tough wagon. Which probably would still have needed constant repairs. And really tough horses.

Example 2: Market wagon


The market wagon is to the covered wagon as a tarantula is to a daddy long-legs. The covered wagon could eat the market wagon for breakfast. On the other hand, the market wagon seems to have shock absorbers, which would make riding in it much more pleasant. And since you'd probably only go short distances, I'd much rather be in this wagon than the covered wagon. Sucks to your asthmar, pioneers! Your wagon is terrible.

Example 3: Penny farthing


If you really want to travel in style, and have impeccable balance, this set of wheels is for you! However, if you fall off, you may break something, or crush someone else due to the great height from which you will fall, so this is a use-at-your-own risk-and-employ-a-lawyer mode of transport.

The basement museum is a bit cramped, and it was hard to get good pictures of the rest of the things - a number of carriages and sleighs that smelled a bit musty and creeped me out a bit. Especially the ice skates lying on the seat of one. As I believe I've said before, I do not approve of two hundred-year-old shoes. History and anthropology and archaeology be damned: shoes of dead people should be destroyed immediately! I believe this so fervently that I think I might start a Cult of the Destruction of Shoes, which will entail shoe destruction and also a money-laundering scheme, which I think is typically how modern cults operate.

Anyway, by the creepy sleighs full of creepy shoes there was a sign. And on the sign there was a poem. A poem that I thought either Ivan or I had taken a picture of, but it turns out we didn't, even though we stood in front of it for ten minutes mocking it. So I will summarize the poem: it was a moral tale about a very shallow young lady who was asked to go on a sleigh ride by a gentleman caller. She said yes, because no one in their right mind turns down a sleigh ride, but she wanted to look beautiful so she refused to put on her hat and mittens, or muff and cape, or whatever. People told her she should really be properly dressed, and she waved away their warnings. At one point during the sleigh ride even her beau turned to her and said, "Don't you want to put on a hat or something?" And she said, "No no, I am fine." But of course she wasn't fine. She was slowly freezing to death. Because apparently this was a less of a sleigh ride and more of an iditarod. By the time she admitted she was "a little cold" it was already over for her. That's right, SHE DIED. It was a moral poem about the pressing issue of delicate ladies not wearing proper outerwear. Let this be a lesson to you! Do not go on sleigh rides!

In addition to this wonderful glimpse into how weird the Victorians were, the basement also boasts a small collection of what I'm guessing is early-twentieth-century medicine. These are my favorites.

Allen's Foot=Ease


In attractive yellow packaging. I'm not being sarcastic. I would buy this. It has the must-have signature on it! (Now I'm being sarcastic.)

Mother Grey's Sweet Tablets for [Everything]


I assume this is chocolate?

Raccoon Corn Plasters


The raccoon gets the corn! I can't express how much I love this approach to marketing. More advertisements these days should focus on how pests can relieve your bodily ailments through the use of puns. They say laughter is the best medicine. This made me laugh quite a lot.

Hopefully this will convince each and every one of you that the $3 entrance fee to the Jell-O Museum Complex is absolutely worth it. If not, don't worry, because at this point we were only 3/5 done! For another small fee (or donation, I can't remember), you can also go into the LeRoy Historical Society and look at cool stuff in there.


I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but I remember liking a lot of the art. And there was an astonishing amount of crockery. For such a small sum, the LeRoy Experience, as I'm now calling it, was an amazing deal. Highly recommended.


Mum said...

The small size of the uncovered wagon explains why people heaved things out the back as they traveled west - "I got to find a place to sleep in here, it's raining!"

Maybe the horror of old shoes can be delt with using Pauline's theory that the shoes of the dead should be put outside the door. Maybe they will walk away by themselves and never come back.

Simon said...

Yes! I had to rethink parts of my novel when I saw for real how much space there was. Practically none!

Grandma mentioned Pauline's theory as well. I support it. Your comment also made me think of the Little Bear book where he's followed by a pair of shoes at some point. Or did I make that up? I can't quite remember.