A SMALL ADVENTURE
Small. Inconsequential, really. But our lives can be a series of small “adventures” if we invest a little time and attention. Here’s a “small adventure” from my recent trip to Indiana.
So . . . how interested in baking powder are you? Ha ha ha ha. Me neither: not much.
My mother-in-law was looking in my kitchen cabinets one day (looking for something, it was okay), when she called out in surprise, “Oh, you buy Clabber Girl too!” Our mutual choice of the Clabber Girl brand was one of the few things she and I had in common (other than her son).
She said her own mother always used Clabber Girl. That would make it about a hundred and twenty year old tradition!
I had a six hour drive home from Indiana and about twelve hours to do it in. And I discovered that Terre Haute had a Clabber Girl museum. Indeed, it was the headquarters of Clabber Girl. It was easy to find . . .
I told myself to be interested. Kind of like a “forced field trip” when you were in school and someone told you where to go. I’m my own schoolteacher.
Found the factory!
This is the real deal: a whole big factory for making baking powder.
Parking was a problem though. They had a parking lot nearby —
— but I didn’t know if I qualified as “approved.” Might not be. But I had my pedometer attached to my body, so I didn’t mind racking up a few extra steps. Eight city blocks worth!
I walked past several factory buildings along those blocks.
Anton Hulman, Sr. Founder. The Hulman name is prominent around Terre Haute. Of such details a successful game of Trivial Pursuit is made. Or maybe Jeopardy. . . .
This is the entrance I wanted:
That was some bake shop inside! Soups, sandwiches, and the most desirable baked goods! And then the museum.
It was huge – and delightful – inside. The exhibits were made with care, using actual objects and furnishings from olden days. And someone kept walking around with a tray of warm cookies, made with Clabber Girl baking soda, of course.
Here’s part of an authentic Pig n Whistle:
Yep – a tavern. Looked inviting, except for a photo of a “floozie” on the wall. I’m not that kind of girl! Apparently, everyone knew what a Pig n Whistle was: the “boy” employee had to go down to the basement periodically to bring up more whiskey in a pigskin container. And to prove he was not taking a nip or two on the way up, he had to keep whistling so his employer could hear that he was being honest!
A store – with ration coupons available:
My grandma shopped in a store like this. Come to think of it, my great-grandfather owned a store just like this – although with more meat available. He was a butcher.
Well . . . here. Someone sent me an old newspaper clipping —
Interesting? Well. . . . . Well, if you’re ever going to imagine what it was like to live a hundred years ago, now’s the time, while you’re in this museum.
Vehicles were prominent displays –
Baking powder – right to your doorstep.
And a genuine Hansom Cab –
Sorry, I’m not too mechanically inclined, and I can’t explain to you all the wonderful new technological advances this cab represents – gears and cranks and levers and lower center of gravity for increased stability . . . but I remember that the driver rode on top – and he was the only one who could open that front door to let the passengers out. It was the height of comfort and luxury. I just can’t understand why.
But I can understand this one!! —
Gorgeous!!! Turns out Anton Hulman, Jr. bought the Indiana Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker – The World War One flying ace hero!
You know what the cross decals on his plane are for. Western Civilization owes him a lot.
I think he’s sitting in the same car that I was standing in front of —
He loved flying in planes and flying in racing cars!
(And how about that NASCAR race this weekend at Talladega!! One man said they ought to have had an air traffic controller there because there were so many cars flying airborne in a record number of crashes! — So who would have guessed that I would have become interested in auto racing?!)
Well, you get the idea of the museum. It was soon time for me to find the Powder Room.
An actual “powder room” !! Museum exhibit? Of course I tried the door and went in!
Gleaming shiny new — not an antique! I think I was glad.
It’s almost time to leave the museum, but first we must pay some respects.
The Hulman family brought the Clabber Girl company through hard economic times that caused many other big businesses to fail. No government bailouts then. Through careful management they came through a couple national depressions and two world wars.
One of the Hulman young ladies was in the army, WWII. They did their patriotic duty in every way possible —
Take time to consider this sign. Everyone participated in the war effort. It wasn’t fun, but it was sacrifice for a bigger cause — and Americans thought their country was worth saving, worth fighting for.
Hats off to you, old man. . . Mr. Hulman.
I left the museum and began the long walk back to my car, out into the present-day world.
I won’t call it the modern world; we are post-modern now. We have left the greatness and bigness of the whole modern world far behind. We are not growing, inventing, solving problems, living with confidence, celebrating our greatness. . .
But once we celebrated —
A hundred years ago, America was great, growing, strong, optimistic, individualistic, self-confident — and we came out by the thousands to celebrate the opening . . . of a baking soda factory!!