Wood County Historical Center & Museum

Student potters filled with enthusiasm for Empty Soup Bowl Fundraiser

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News John Balistreri, head of the ceramics area at Bowling Green State University, makes it very clear: The clay program’s involvement in the Empty Soup Bowl project was the students’ idea. He wasn’t at the Clay Club meeting when the idea came up. And when he was told the students wanted to do it, he drew a hard line. This was a busy time for the studio. “This place is going around the clock,” he said. The students had to committed to create the hundreds of soup bowls — “beautiful bowls that people will want to use” — needed for the event. They also had to be learning something along the way. “It’s up to them to pull it off right,” he said. The students convinced him they would. Emma Robinson works on glazing a bowl. The Artists vs. Hunger: Empty Soup Bowl Fundraiser will be presented from Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. The sale of the bowls for $15 each as well as the good will offering for the soup to fill them will benefit the Brown Bag Food Project. Megan Messer is the student who proposed the idea. Now working on her Bachelor of Arts in ceramics with a minor in community art, she started as an education major. As part of that program she volunteered at Brown Bag. She was impressed by the locally grown effort to address food insecurity. The project provides groceries to tide people in need over until they can get more permanent help. She met Marissa Muniz, a Brown Bag board member and publicist for the museum, while volunteering. Messer came up with the idea of staging an Empty Soup Bowl fundraiser. “It was exciting,” she said. “It could bring us out into the community more, and help a good cause.” Empty Bowl events are held around the country. One of Messer’s classmates, David Rummel, from Bryan, participated in a similar effort back home that was organized by potter Brandon Knott. The project, he said, “is not too terribly hard. It’s a great way to raise funds for a good cause.” Emma Robinson, another student in the ceramics studio, agreed. She said she was on board as soon as the idea was brought up in the Clay Club meeting.  Artists sometimes can be insulated making their work in their studios. “It’s nice to use our skills to reach other communities, and give back,” she said. She added that the project also is a good way to rally the students involved around a common goal. Balistreri is always pushing the students to increase their production, and this will force them to do that, Robinson said. “They’re learning how to make pots, the rhythm of it,” Balistreri said. David Rummel with bowls he’s made. The potters are using the project to experiment with applying a variety of glazes. When Balistreri was convinced the students were committed, he said he’d throw 50 bowls himself — but the students would have to glaze them. They expect to create about 400. Rummel said he was attracted to pottery because it create objects that people will use. “They’ll have it in the cupboard. It’s a way to share myself with someone else. It’s very spiritual.” Bowls waiting to be fired.


Museum’s WWI exhibit puts visitors in the trenches

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A century ago, American doughboys were being sent overseas to fight in World War I. Wood County farm boys, many who had never been outside the county, were shipped over to battle in the trenches. To commemorate the county’s involvement in WWI, the Wood County Historical Center has dedicated its entire museum space this year to the “War to End All Wars.” The exhibits look at the war overseas, the local boys who served their nation, and the families they left behind here in Wood County. Many of the items on display have been loaned to the museum by local families, whose ancestors served. Others have come from American Legion posts in the county. “We are very, very grateful,” said Holly Hartlerode, curator at the historical center. “We are here to share story.” Many of the legion posts throughout the nation are dwindling in memberships but are teeming with historical artifacts of past members. “This is important,” Hartlerode said. “We can become a depository for their memories.” The WWI exhibit is the first time that the entire museum has been devoted to one period in history. The self-guided tours start with an explanation of how WWI started. Because the war seems almost like ancient history to some younger visitors, the exhibit includes some interactive portions to keep the attention of guests. One of the first rooms on the tour offers a game with maps, portraits of world leaders and questions about who are allies and who are enemies. “The average person was affected by the actions of these fellows,” Hartlerode said pointing to the portraits of the world leaders hanging on the wall. Though she finds the war fascinating, the curator is aware that interactive exhibits help keep others interested. “How do we not bore people to death when explaining the political aspects of the war,” she said. The exhibit explains the U.S. reluctance to get involved in WWI, with Woodrow Wilson sitting on the sidelines for nearly three years until two key events occurred. First was Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare that resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania with 128 Americans on board. The second was the interception of the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany tried to persuade Mexico to wage war against the U.S. in exchange for Germany helping Mexico regain territories lost to the U.S. But with America being a nation of immigrants, many from the countries already fighting, Wilson tried to unite Americans with patriotism rather than their national loyalty to homelands overseas. So museum visitors are asked to chart out their ancestry on a huge map – using white pins to show their residencies, red pins to chart their maternal homelands, and blue pins to show their paternal origins. Many Wood County residents hailed from Germany. With the passage of the Selective Service Act – which covered men ages 18 to 45 – approximately 2.8 million American men were drafted into service. By the summer of 1918, the nation was sending 10,000 soldiers to France every day. The museum display cases are full of loaned memorabilia brought home by some of those local soldiers. There are ammunition belts, gas masks, medals, a machine gun, German helmets, plus small books carried in soldiers’ pockets. Those texts include prayer books, tiny training manuals and books with basic French words. There are also German propaganda posters – spreading the word though at a slower speed than social media today. One room does its best to put museum visitors in the trenches with soldiers. With the help of the BGSU Theater…


Time capsule to share treasures of Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Except for a couple of children in the room, the audience was keenly aware that the time capsule being sealed in the wall would be opened without them. But this place is all about preserving the past for future generations – so the time capsule ceremony was no different. “When we’re all gone, it’s the objects we’ve left behind that tell the story,” said Holly Hartlerode, curator of the Wood County Historical Center. The audience on Saturday at the historical center got one last look at the items that will stay sealed until 2075 in a time capsule. Some items reflect the times – Kindles, cell phones and computer parts. Others tell personal stories – a nesting egg, barbershop music cassette tape and a ticket to a Horizon Youth Theatre performance. “It’s a great way to link ourselves to the future, the way we look back and find we are linked to the past,” said Michael Penrod, president of the Wood County Historical Society Board. Penrod likened the time capsule to the buried treasure in his favorite adventure movie, “Indiana Jones.” Except this treasure will be sealed up in a wall in the historical museum. “We opened up a lot of walls during the last year,” with all the renovations at the museum, so the timing was perfect, he said. Penrod, who is director of the Wood County District Public Library, donated an out-of-date Kindle from the library. He predicted that when the time capsule is opened in 2075, people will comment, “Oh, those librarians back then – they were so quaint.” Others also wanted future generations to get glimpses of our current technology. Edie Olds donated an old cell phone. When she first got it years ago, she thought it was so cool. “Now I wish we could bury all of them,” she said. George Stossel donated some bits of obsolete computer technology – but not the early pieces that were the size of a dishwasher, he said. Other items for the time capsule were of a more personal nature. They will be accompanied with notes describing their significance. Dana Nemeth, director of the historical center, donated a toy space shuttle from 2010 – minus a wheel or so from use. She told of growing up being in awe of the nation’s space program, and of family visits to the space center. The toy represented American ingenuity, national pride and happy memories with her family. Nancy Buchanan donated a cassette tape of the Sweet Adelines group. “I’m hoping the harmony of barbershop music will continue to grow over to the next century,” she said. The Hagemeyer family, who lived near the museum when it was used as an infirmary for the county’s poor, sick and old, donated a nesting egg. The family sold crates for eggs to the infirmary. The nesting egg was put in the chicken coop to encourage the hens to lay eggs. Retired Bowling Green jeweler Jon Klever donated a jewelry cutting tool originally used by his father, Alex Klever. Dr. William Feeman, a Bowling Green physician who traveled to New York City to help after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, donated some memorabilia from his service there. Other items included some handmade Native American jewelry from Fawn Crawfoot, a ticket stub from a Horizon Youth Theatre performance from Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, and digital copies of local history books written by Gary Franks. Joy Hobson, of the Friends of Girl Scouts, donated a signature frog from the organization. Local government officials also got involved, with Wood County commissioners Doris Herringshaw…


A gathering of voices rises from Wood County’s past at Living History program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Voices from Wood County’s past gathered and spoke Sunday at the 13th Annual Wood County Living History Day. Though no longer walking among us, these figures, said master of ceremonies Michael Penrod still have an impact on how we live. This collection of personages brought together by the county Historical Society had in common the theme of collections. They collected or the work they created was collected. Dominick Labino, a glass innovator in industry and art, created distinctly colored glass pieces that are in museums around the world. “That’s quite legacy,” said Keith Guion, the actor who portrayed him. Dorothy Uber Bryan’s paintings created while undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer are collected at the University of Toledo Health Science campus. Ella Dishong’s collection was the assembled goods of the small rural business proprietor that over time became collectible. Floy and Earl Shaffer found themselves collecting as a diversion from the grief of losing two sons, one as a child, and one in middle age. And Floy Shaffer’s own pottery was collected by regional buyers, including those who purchased her work in the early days of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. Lloyd Weddell’s skill as a woodworker meant his figurines and fiddles were treasured by many in the area. Jerry Hagerty’s interest in collecting Native American artifacts found in recently tilled farm land was one of the reasons he was asked to be the first caretaker of the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. Together these seven people’s stories, each presented by an actor and through a script penned usually by someone who knew them well, offered a slice of the county’s collective memory. Dominick Labino Labino’s story, told by Guion and written by his protégé Baker O’Brien, begins with his early admiration for the blacksmith in the town he grew up in. He admired the man’s ability to repair anything. Labino entered the glass industry and invented a number of patented products. He helped develop the glass fibers used on the bottom of the space shuttle. His fame came when he was asked by Otto Wittmann, the director of the Toledo Museum of Art, to lend his expertise to the fledgling effort to explore the use of glass in art. He built the first furnace. He went on to retire from business early so he could pursue art. He built a studio at his Grand Rapids home and experimented endlessly. “I tried just about everything.” The result was distinctive bold colored art works that are treasured by collectors. Dorothy Uber Bryan Bryan was presented through a short play acted by her daughter Katherine Hollingsworth, granddaughter Meredith Hollingsworth, and son David Bryan, in a script penned by Bryan and Meredith Hollingsworth. Bryan was a busy wife and mother, raising her children and supporting her husband Ashel Bryan’s banking career, even preparing the food for the MidAm Bank Christmas party. But once her youngest daughter was in high school, she decided to study painting at Bowling Green State University. There, working with students younger than two of her three own children, she was dubbed “Grandma Go-Go.” At BGSU, she and several other older women studying art founded the Medici Circle, a group that continues to support the BGSU School of Art. When she had cancer, “the way I got though was to go to my art studio and my feelings would come out on the pages, so I would feel better.” Later looking over the series of paintings she “realized there was a progression.” Those Chemo Paintings because the subject of a public television documentary…