Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hawthorne Museum @ Morton College

My grandmother, now deceased grandfather and uncle all have their pictures hanging in the new Hawthorne Museum at Morton College. How cool is that!  I love museums, but to come into this one, even though it's small (just two rooms) and see my grandparents and uncle's pictures up on the wall was really cool . And it was something really special for my kids to see, too.

The museum is dedicated to the now defunct Western Electric Hawthorne Works facility located in Cicero, Illinois.  It became the manufacturing arm of the Bell Telephone Company.  The facility was really a little city of itself and boasted a hospital, fire brigade, laundry, greenhouse, a brass band, running track, tennis courts, gymnasium, an annual beauty pageant and a staff of trained nurses who made house calls. In 1975 there were 45,000 workers at the plant.

My grandmother has told many stories about working in the plant, making telephone parts. She'd tell how hot the workers would get, how many would faint because there was no air conditiong. My grandma would always say how great her boss was because if the workers complained of being faint he would send them to lay down at a cot for a while and take salt pills.

Jared just loved playing switchboard operator. He stayed at this switchboard for at least twenty minutes without getting up.

Alexa called me over to show me one of the first electric dishwashers. I think it was built in 1918. We were pretty impressed. Of course, that might be because we don't even own a dishwasher now!

The museum even has a sculpture my grandfather made using rails off a railroad track. He won first prize in entering it in an art contest at the plant.

Jared liked checking out the old-fashioned telephone booth. Both kids hid in the booth for awhile and had fun popping their heads up through the glass.

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