I'm excited this week because we (the exhibit committee of the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society) are making progress — I think.
Because of COVID-19, we weren't able to do too much as we would have liked before the "official" opening of the museum. But we persevered and got "most" of the exhibits finished and the museum itself cleaned. We have already had many people go through the museum and seemed to like that whey saw.
We have always tried to have something "new" each year — a different exhibit that has not been seen before, so there is always something different to see.
This year, we really went all out and have several new exhibits. They aren't all done yet, but as I said, we are making headway.
Several of the new exhibits have been completed. I laugh as I show off the featured display of baseball memorabilia from Darryl and Lynn Jones, who both played in the majors.
I laugh because while waiting for people to take it all in, I tell them they don't have to be impressed — I'm impressed enough for everybody. I just love this exhibit because not only does it pay tribute to the Jones family, but also to me it should be an inspiration to every Little League player to realize that people from small towns (Harmonsburg in this case) can make it to the "big leagues."
We also have an exhibit of Bill Ott's speedboat in which he won national titles in his field. It is another example of excellence in a sport through a lot of work and perseverance.
Two of my other favorites for the year are not quite complete — but almost. Gary Worthington did a diorama of the ice house industry — with the ice houses, the elevators, etc. — all done to scale. It is on display now, but we hope to add a little more information about how he created this beautiful exhibit, showing exactly how the ice was harvested off Conneaut Lake and then shipped to cities hundreds of miles away. It is well done and I am sure will impress a lot of people.
We also added a "timeline" to museum this year. The international and national part of the timeline is done and, I think, very impressive. A professional artist is doing it and he assures me the "local" part will be done soon. I'm sure it will be every bit as nice as the world timelines, and I can't wait to see it.
We also have other exhibits in the museum — adding to some and creating other new ones.
It's always a work in progress, but usually we are done for the year by May and then don't add anything until the next year.
My sister-in-law, Judy, is exhibit chairman and laughed as she said we wouldn't have to worry about doing new exhibits next year because some of them will still seem new. I agreed, but there is always next year and new ideas.
But it's fun to see progress being made. The exhibit committee is always looking for new ideas — and the guys from the board have a "to-do" list, which we have all contributed to, which "reminds" them of things left to do to make the museum look nicer. (It's all the stuff they do, but the women don't for the most part.)
It's a good idea — especially if some of the guys like to get a list done. Some are like my sister who thinks having a list means continually working on it. Others are more like me — and it is a "goal list" that will get done eventually. One former board member once told me that as soon as they got one thing done, someone (usually me) added to the list, so there was always something to do. It's like that though — once one thing gets done, another part needs updated to look just as nice — or we get new ideas from having seen the work that is done.
In this day when it seems the world has "stood still" — it's just encouraging to me to see that we are actually making progress on the original "list" for the exhibit committee for the year.
It's a good thing summer is almost over and soon the museum will be closed for the year and we will work on the "winter list." That includes "cleaning" the upstairs, which is always on the list. It's not nearly as much fun as creating new exhibits.
But first, we have to enjoy the work done to remind people the Conneaut Lake has lots of interesting history — and even in a pandemic, we are still making progress — even while we are wearing the required mask.
Jean Shanley is retired from The Meadville Tribune where she was communities and society editor.