Monday, July 31, 2017

Vacation in a Coal Mine

That's me, next to my older sister.

Summertime, vacation time. Of course I'm pretty much always on vacation, but still, summer reminds me of my childhood and Dad taking us all on the big summer vacation trip. On good years Dad would rent a lakeside cottage and he would pile us all in the station wagon and head on out. Those were pretty good vacation trips. And then there were the lean years when there would be no lakeside cottage. I suspect that those were the years that Dad found something better to do with his money. Either Mom had just had a baby, or Mom was about to have a baby and Dad needed cash to pay the hospital. So on those years we would go downtown to a museum for the day. That was our vacation. Not that a museum is a bad vacation, you just can't go swimming in a museum. My all time favorite was the Museum of Science and Industry. It still is, but now who can afford it? Eighteen dollars to get in, thirty if you want to see the coal mine or the U505 submarine, and twenty two dollars to park. When Dad took us, it was free to get in and parking was also free. It was one of the cheapest forms of entertainment available. I understand that the museums still have occasional "free" days, and that is great... if you like hoards of little children running around. Yet even at the price that they charge now, if you have never gone before, you should go to the Science and Industry Museum. I don't know if they still have all the great exhibits. Do they still have the farm with the chicken hatchery? I loved that because you could walk through the farm house, there was a real farm tractor right there on the museum floor, and they were hatching little chicks right before your eyes. Among the other exhibits I liked, were the beating heart that you could walk through and the model train sets. Huge layouts of model train sets. They had antique cars, antique planes hanging from the ceiling, and that coal mine. The coal mine was the best. You got in a rickety elevator that took you hundreds of feet beneath the museum. Then you got in a little coal tram that ran hundreds of feet below Chicago's streets where they mined the coal for all the furnaces in Chicago. At least that's what I believed when I was seven years old. It turns out that the coal mine is in the museum basement, it isn't real, and it was all an illusion done with moving screens. So if you can't afford a big time vacation in a little cottage with sand on the floor and an outhouse for a toilet, go to the museum. It's almost as cheap as going to that cottage.


  1. I think they still have the hatchery. Was one of my favorites. It's been a few years since we were there. Took the four grandkids but there were four of us adults, we had to be quite alert to keep up with the yung uns. A great time was had by all.

    1. Haven't heard from you guys for a few months. Glad to see you're still keeping up with the blog. Let's get together soon.