Film on Friday

Believe it or not, there are actually people in the United States today who have never seen Gone with the Wind?  It's true!  One of the most popular films of all time, the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture in 1939, one of the most quoted films ever, and yet unseen by countless Americans. First, it was a novel, written in 1936 by Atlanta's own Margaret Mitchell. It is a fictional account of life before, during and after the Civil War for spoiled elite Scarlett O'Hara as she struggled through her times.  

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The book - and later the movie - have received criticism due to its depiction of African Americans, depicting them as happily enslaved and grateful to kind masters. Admittedly, this is a very difficult pill to swallow.  But, if you can look beyond that, what you'll find is a majestic epic tale of loss and triumph set in glorious Technicolor. It is simply impossible to imagine watching this movie, all 221 minutes of it - that's well over three-and-a-half hours - in black and white. Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland star.  Of course, if you don't have the time to watch the film, just come on down to the American Treasure Tour to admire our posters and images from the movie. That will be close enough, we're sure. 

Full Throttle Thursday

The American Treasure Tour blog weekly installment of Full-Throttle Thursday takes a look at the vehicles we have displayed here in Oaks, Pennsylvania.  Cars are a huge part of our culture, and most everyone knows what it's like to press their foot to the gas pedal and feel the power of their car as it moves forward, going speeds over a hundred miles an hour.  Well, the vehicle we're going to talk about today is not one of those cars.  

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Today's vehicle doesn't even have a throttle on it.  It's electric, which means it likely peaks out at about fifteen miles per hour on a downhill.  It is none other than the little fire truck used way back when, in the old days of the actual B.F. Goodrich Tire Factory that shut down in 1986, before eventually becoming the wonderful and amazing American Treasure Tour of today! Taylor-Dunn is a leading American provider of commercial and industrial vehicles. It all began way back in 1949, when Davis Taylor used his engineering degree to make a small electrical car to make life on his poultry farm a little easier. That was in Anaheim, California, a small town located just outside of Los Angeles, and the home of a rarely-visited attraction called Disneyland. Anyway, in 1951 a guy named Dunn, Fred Dunn joined Taylor and together they embarked on an electric car-making journey that continues to this day.  You see, not only is our little red fire truck a Taylor-Dunn, but so are the trams we use to drive our visitors around the Toy Box.  

Wacky Wednesday

Did you know...  that the Rubik's cube is considered the best selling toy of all time ever in the history of forever?  The Rubik's cube was developed by a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture named Ernő Rubik (born in 1944). He signed a deal with Ideal Toy Corporation four years later, and it became immediately popular, winning a Game of the Year award in Germany that year for Best Puzzle. 

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Rubik's original purpose for designing the cube was more to create a device that could move in numerous directions while staying together. He only accidentally discovered that it could also be a challenging brain teaser.  He patented it as the Magic Cube, but Ideal renamed it after its inventor to make the name more memorable. Now, Rubik is part of world culture. Rubik's cube competitions occur internationally, and - oh right! - there's a giant one at the American Treasure Tour, too. Funny how that happens.  Please don't dedicate much time to solving ours, though. The separate squares don't actually move. 

Tunes on Tuesday

We here at the ATT blog struggle, just a little bit, when we write about the performers who are honored throughout the tour.  We want to do them justice, but it's impossible. We're going to call out the Everly Brothers today, but how do you do justice to them when they recorded about seventeen kazillion songs in a career that lasted forty-two blavillion years?  We could talk about the members of their bands, the popularity and significance of each song, stories about the recording of each album, but there's just no time.  So today, we will concentrate on the second studio album they created, lovingly entitled Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. 

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The Everly Brothers has been described as a "close harmony/country/rock 'n' roll" duo.  Isaac Donald "Don" Everly and younger brother Philip "Phil" Everly were born into music, touring with their dad when they were still known as Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil. They recorded their first song, "Keep A-Lovin' Me," when Don was only 19.  It flopped, but they persisted and made their first top-ten hit in 1957 with "Bye Bye Love." This started a decades-long career, with their first two albums released in 1958, including Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.  The album was critically praised, if not as popular as their eponymous first record.  It includes traditional songs by Charles Monroe, "Down in the Willow Grove," and Gene Autry, "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," and the 17th-century ballad, "Barbara Allen."  If you need a refresher, it's not hard to find!  Of course, if you just want to look at the cover art, you can do that any time here at the American Treasure Tour!

Museums on Monday

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The American Treasure Tour is, and we're being completely biased here, a wonderful place to go. We have so many amazing and wonderful things on display, we could easily make a happy junky go completely bonkers. But we know full well that the world is full of amazing and wonderful places to go, and we want to call out to some of them here on our blog. (For a bit of personal disclosure, yours truly has had the high pleasure of visiting the places we honor on these pages at one time or another, so we're not just blowing smoke about them being worth the trip.  We know!)

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Today, we call out to our friends who live near or want to visit Arizona. Phoenix, to be exact. Now, we know that there are plenty of cool sites in Arizona, but one that will leave an indelible mark is called Mystery Castle, right on the fringes of the city. It was built by a man named Bryce Luther Gully, a resident of Seattle and victim of tuberculosis who ran into the desert to survive his illness. Sadly, he left his family behind, but when he moved to Phoenix he built a castle out of whatever he could find - a fantasy dreamscape intended to fulfill the wishes of his daughter, Mary Lou. She arrived after his death in 1945 and gave tours of the castle herself until her own passing in 2010. Fortunately, it's still there and you can still get there.  So make sure to put it at the top of your destinations list for your next Phoenix adventure! 

Film on Friday

The American Treasure Tour LOVES movies, and we prove that by displaying movie posters, celebrity headshots, and throwing music quotes around whenever the situation comes up. One of the less famous films honored here in our Toy Box is called Strange Cargo, starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. This 1940 film was the eighth - and final - collaboration between these two iconic stars, and it was all about criminals.  Clark Gable played Andre Verne, a criminal sentenced to serve his time on Devil's Island, the infamous penal colony in French Guyana, South America. There, he met Julie, a singer in a town nearby.  Crawford's character. 

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The film is a classic melodrama, which suggests that everything is about emotions and playing on heartstrings. Julie helps Andre, but Andre gets caught up in a prison escape led by Ian Hunter's Cambreau, a Christ-like figure (trust us, there's no subtlety in that comparison) whose spirituality is a driving force in the action.  We won't tell you how things wind up, because we firmly believe that spoilers take the fun out of movies, but we will say you need to watch this movie.  But then, we would pretty much say that about every movie ever made, so take that for what it's worth.

Full Throttle Thursday

Nowadays, going out "full throttle" while driving means something entirely different than it did, say, only one hundred and seventeen years ago.  Today, putting your pedal to the metal can mean going from zero to two hundred miles per hour in sixty seconds if you have the right car.  Back then, it meant you might, on a good day, hit twenty miles an hour - pretty close to the maximum speed of the Oldsmobile Curved-Dash Runabout.

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These cars were major revelations to the American public.  At a time when automobiles were exclusively the play toys of the super rich, these cars were affordable at $650 a piece. Sure, middle-class Americans would require payment plans for an expense like that, but it was not in the realm of the spectacular for common people to purchase one.  Sure, the elite didn't like that, but it happened. The Runabout was not especially practical.  It didn't go fast and it didn't go far. It also didn't handle cold weather too well, and was certainly a challenge during rain or snow. But it was an amazing car and lead the way to a new way of life.  Only seven years after its introduction, a guy named Henry Ford would bring out something called a Model T.  In large part, the T was inspired by Olds' creation.  Come see the reproduction right here at the American Treasure Tour!

Yucky Wednesday

With countless artifacts displayed throughout the American Treasure Tour (which is to say, we have yet to count them all), it is inevitable that something on display might seem ... well ... maybe a little bit yucky.  Sorry if that word offends you.  Yucky things can be unpleasant, and that's not what we're generally about here.  Of course, they can also be helpful.  Helpful and yucky all at the same time.  Who knew?  So, today, we would like to highlight a container displayed on a shelf in the Toy Box - not far from our Prince Albert, I might add.  Something called French's Selected Calcined Plaster, for use by dentists.

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Full disclosure here.  We at the ATT blog are not dentists.  We all thoroughly respect what they do, but we can't pretend to understand the art of their craft.  Calcined Plaster has proven somewhat significant in the making of dental molds.  When dentists apply water to the plaster, it becomes solid, such that it will preserve a shape once it dries.  The speed of its drying depends on the amount of water added.  One of its more significant functions is to cast the shape of a patient's jaw to help with the creation of dentures.  The canister of plaster displayed at the Treasure Tour was sold  by Samuel H. French & Co., whose offices were at 475-477 York Avenue in Philadelphia. They were in business in the late-1880's as building suppliers and providers of plaster. 

Tunes on Tuesday

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1937 was a big year for Alice Faye.  She starred in no less than five films that year, including In Old Chicago, On the Avenue, You Can't Have Everything, Wake Up and Live, and the topper for the year, You're a Sweetheart.  You're a Sweetheart was a musical comedy directed by the inestimable David Butler (full disclosure, we were unfamiliar with Mr. Butler before exploring his contribution to You're a Sweetheart, but his career was closely linked to that of Miss Doris Day).  The movie is about a Broadway producer who is competing with a charity event for the debut of his show and does whatever is necessary to get New York's elite to attend.  Don't worry, this film isn't about the plot. It's about the music.

With five songs written and composed by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson, the title track is the one we're recognizing today.  Since the sheet music for this song is displayed right here, at the American Treasure Tour, in our Music Room.  Let us know if you can find it the next time you come in for a visit!

Wacky Wednesday

Welcome to the Wacky Wednesday edition of the American Treasure Tour blog.  It's so wacky, in fact, that it's coming out on a Monday.  Just go with it.  We don't know why either.  Today, we are going to honor a very important item displayed in the Toy Box here at the Tour that VERY few people ever notice.  We feel confident saying that because it's located on a shelf above eye level not especially close to the tram ride tour route.  It's a can.  And it once contained tobacco - something we do not advocate the consumption of (especially for dogs!).  The tobacco was introduced by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1907 and remains on the shelves today to people who choose to ignore our admonition that you refrain from using this product.

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It's named after the man who would become Kind Edward VII of England (1841 to 1910, King from 1901 until his death), inspired by a portrait of the King given to R.J. himself by none other than Mark Twain.  Of course, you've likely never heard of Edward VII tobacco, and that's because it wasn't called that.  Prior to his ascension to the throne, Edward was affectionately called Prince Albert.  And the product was often sold in a can.  So, if ever you are asked if Prince Albert was ever in a can, you now know that yes, in fact, he was.

(Lion) Tamers on Tuesday

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Okay. So loyal readers of the Treasure Tour blog likely expected us to talk about a favorite song or album today. Well, it isn't happening today, because we want to highlight one of our favorite lion tamers.  We know.  This is what makes us so crazy!  Mable Stark, born in 1889 and orphaned as a teenager, actually did run of and join the circus. She realized early on that she wanted to become a lion timer, and that's exactly how she spent the better part of her life, almost sixty years! She moved from circus to circus, working for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey off and on through a career that involved many moves around the country, time overseas, and lots of terrible maulings. At one point, a lion almost ripped her leg off during a rehearsal.  Many members of her audiences witnessed numerous times as angry tigers tore at her.  But she lived for it.

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Mable was in a handful of movies during the 1930's, including King of the Jungle with Buster Crabbe, and I'm No Angel filling in for Mae West.  Easily the most famous female lion tamer in the nation, Mable drew crowds wherever she performed. But, in the 1950's, she found herself employed at a theme park in California called Jungleland USA.  Many famous animal personalities lived there, notably Leo the Lion (MGM's mascot) and the famous "talking" horse, Mr. Ed. Things didn't work out for Mable there, unfortunately, and she was fired in 1968, and shortly thereafter took her own life.  So yes, the story has a terrible ending, but Mable was a great example to women at a time when they were treated as second-class citizens that there was absolutely no job a man could do that a woman couldn't do just as well - maybe better!

Monday at the Museum

Happy New Year!  Yes, what a special bonus day - it's not only New Year's Day, but it's also a Monday.  That means we have two reasons to celebrate.  Okay.  There are always plenty of reasons to celebrate every day, but today, well, 2018.  So much could happen this year - people could be nice to each other, there could be a cool meteor shower, and you could make it out to the American Treasure Tour!  Okay fine, we recognize that there's no real correlation between getting to the Tour and a meteor shower.  And everyone should be nice to each other at all times. So - come to the Treasure Tour!  Except not on Mondays, without planning your own Group or Exclusive Tour in advance.  We would like to offer another option, though, if you want to wait until we open for General Admission on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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Have you been to the new Museum of the American Revolution, yet?  It's located in downtown Philadelphia, in Olde City.  It's open every day of the week (except today, notably), and it's a great introduction to the story of the American Revolutionary War.  You can learn about the founding fathers of our nation, and some of the founding mothers, too.  Not only do they dedicate the space to the battlefields of the war, but also the backroom politicking that led to these United States. Interactive displays, movies, amazing artifacts - all in one of the most historic districts of one of the most historic cities in the country.  It's a fascinating story everyone can appreciate, even Joel, your friend who is visiting all the way from Hoboken, Belgium, just outside of Antwerp. Joel definitely needs to come to the Treasure Tour on Thursday, though, because he will really like what he have from his home town.  Just saying.
http://www.amrevmuseum.org

Film on Friday

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Movies are a great love of not only most Americans, but the entire staff here at the American Treasure Tour, which is why the blog dedicates just about a full twenty percent of our weekly blogs just to movies!  Of course, we are not stuck talking about "new" movies, or "famous" movies. We're willing to delve into the collection here and call out films that are rarely, if ever, watched today, simply because we have artwork from them on display, or headshots of the actors who starred in them.  

Today, we jump back 79 years to College Swing. Released in 1938, this star-studded comedy shows off the stylings of Gracie Allen, George Burns, Edward Everett Horton, Martha Raye, and none other than Bob Hope himself.  The story isn't quite as important as the antics, but it's all about Gracie, who is set up to inherit a college on condition that she pass her exams.  Easier said than done, especially considering that members of the college staff are sabotaging her efforts to keep her from taking over.  We won't spoil the ending for you, but we can tell you there's comedy, there's music, and that Betty Grable is also in it.  To be honest, that's really all that matters.

Full Throttle Thursday

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Let's talk about power!  One of the most exhilarating things about driving is when you press your foot down on the gas pedal and feel the full force of the engine revving, ready for you to put the car in gear for it to shoot out of the driveway like a bullet and land on your neighborhood street at a mind blowing 25 miles per hour!

The car we honor today is the 1901 Oldsmobile Curved-Dash Runabout - a car that revolutionized car manufacture because it was the first effective use of mass production in the automotive industry, as inspired by the great car man himself - Ransom E. Olds. Of course, the idea of driving 25 miles per hour in a 1901 Runabout would have been about as conceivable as the idea of being able to paying cash for a brand new car, which would have run just about $650!  I mean, really. Who do you think we are, Mr. Moneypants?  The Runabout had a five gallon tank for gas, exactly one cylinder and one speed, and could travel a maximum of twenty miles per hour, which means it was likely pushing the limits to go that fast.  Just saying.   

Wacky Wednesday

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The Topo Gigio Debate.  Topo Gigio is a character from an Italian children's puppet show who crossed the Atlantic in the 1960's and charmed audiences of the beloved Ed Sullivan Show.  If you remember Ed, you'll likely remember Topo. Described as having dreamy eyes and a childlike personality, he remains popular in Italy today not only on television but in magazines, merchandise, and even movies. One of the most distinguishing features of Topo is his oversized ears.  And that's where the debate comes in.

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The American Treasure Tour has mice all over the place. Now, none of them are living, so far as we know.  We have electronic animations, artwork of mice, even some famous mice associated with Florida theme parks.  But one of our mice has garnered special attention because visitors claim that he is actually Topo Gigio.  So we ask for your help - is our mouse, pictured to the right, Topo Gigio, or some wannabe Topo?

Tunes on Tuesday

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There is so much music here at the Treasure Tour, it's a challenge to know where to start.  So we do it randomly. And today, we honor a wartime song written by James V. Monaco (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics).  The song, "I'm Making Believe" was included in the 1944 film Sweet and Low-Down, a fictional account of the life of its star, Benny Goodman as he entertained soldiers at military bases.  In the film, Lyn n Bari "sang" the song, which was in reality dubbed by Lorraine Elliott, but it was popularized by none other than Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots.  It reached the number one spot on the music charts by the end of the year.

"I'm Making Believe" was nominated for an Oscar but, during the 17th Academy Awards, it lost out to the now immortal "Swinging On A Star" from the film Going My Way, which won seven of its ten nominations that year, including Best Picture.

Happy Holidays

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December is a special time of year.  For much of the nation, that specialness is dominated by a sense that it is really, really cold.  Snow, ice, freezing winds.  Burrrr.  For the rest of the nation, it's a time when they can remember being in one of the cold parts of the country and be grateful for being in a warmer part of the country now.  Of course, it's not all about the weather.  It's also about time spent with family and loved ones, being there for one another, and having a good time.

We at the American Treasure Tour hope you will take some time today to appreciate that which is most important:  friends and family, the peoples of the world, the planet itself, and all the life with which we share the planet.  This is truly a time to take a moment to express gratitude.  And, if you possibly can, get warm!   

Film on Friday

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In 2015, the entertainment industry, specifically film and television, made somewhere around seven hundred billion dollars' worth of revenue and employed close to five million people in the United States. It's a major part of our culture and, frankly, we can't get enough of it.  Americans love movies and television, and the Treasure Tour is definitely here to help share that love. The thing is, we don't just love current movies.  We also embrace the oldies and goodies, regardless of what you consider oldies.  Some people may think of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy as oldies - but, since they were released between 2002 and 2007, we're not so sure we want to hear about that - while we honor some that are definitely considered oldies by everyone.  Think the 1918 propaganda film The Heart of Humanity starring Dorothy Phillips and Each von Stroheim.

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So, if you have a favorite film, or if you just want to see some of the classics we have honored with our posters, then check out our displays throughout the Treasure Tour.  If you have a favorite actor or actress, they may very well be here too.  There are hundreds of images to see dedicated to film and television.  And that doesn't even account for the musicians we celebrate as well!  It's positively crazy!

Full Throttle Thursday

Cars.  We love cars here at the Treasure Tour.  And we love all sorts of cars - even the occasional foreign car (but don't tell anyone about that!).  One of the more unlikely cars we have displayed in our Toy Box is the Woods Mobilette - a part of the short-lived "cycle car" fad of the early 1900's, the idea behind cycle cars was to make them cheaper than other four-wheel vehicles on the road, but more stable than motorcycles, the cheapest form of motorized vehicle out there at the time.

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Cycle cars tended to not only be cheaper, but also more fuel efficient - something people didn't give all that much thought to in the nineteen-teens.  They were much tinier than other vehicles on the road, too, which turned into something of a disadvantage.  Because the axles were narrower than other cars, they actually didn't fit in the wheel ruts in the dirt roads.  And, if you'll notice in our picture, the two seats don't sit side-by-side.  They're catercorner.  Alas, the cycle car era ended in the late-nineteen-teens, in no small part thanks to the price wars between Ford and General Motors.

Wacky Wednesday

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The Treasure Tour hosts wonderful collections, amazing collections, beautiful items, fun and fanciful pieces and, occasionally, downright wacky stuff.  It being Wednesday, the blog gets to focus on some of the more odd pieces in the collection.  Because, you know, Wednesday. Today, we are honored to introduce to you the best tour guide we have here at the Treasure Tour.  His name is Phineas, and he is always there, ready and waiting for our guests to come off the elevator. Odd thing about Phineas is that he doesn't have a lot to say for a tour guide. We think he may be on a silent strike, but we don't know what - if anything - he's protesting, and we don't know what he hopes to accomplish by protesting it.  So we just leave him be.

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One notable thing about Phineas is his outfit.  He wears a jabot (pronounced zha-boe) around his neck, which is frilly fashion almost never seen anymore.  Your best chance to see someone famous styling one is none other than Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an iconic member of the United States Supreme Court.  We're hoping Phineas achieves celebrity status soon.  We'll wait.