Saturday, December 22, 2007

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY: Memories from Childhood - U-505

It is getting close to the Chicago Postcard Museum's first special exhibit, "The Museum of Science and Industry: Yesteryears." The exhibit is opening on January 3, 2008 online at

Personally, I've always loved the Museum of Science and Industry ever since my first visit at 6 1/2 years old. I was mesmerized by the hands-on touch-ability of the exhibits. Do you remember the Telephone/Communications exhibit on the right, just as you walked in? In my tween years, I would pick up the Weather telephone or the Time telephone (set-up to call only one outside telephone number) and tap the receivers disconnect button 10 times real fast and get a live Operator on the line. "Hello? I'm having trouble dialing," I said to the operator, "would you please dial, Hollycourt 5 ....". Presto! A free phone call. People looked at me like I was play-talking to a pretend person on a telephone that will only call "Time Service". Hey... I was just a kid. Next, it's off to the Coal Mine exhibit before the line gets too long. The train ride was so worth the wait, as was the controlled gas explosion demonstration at the bottom of the shaft.

My Dad (a WWII Veteran) saved the best exhibit for last. The U-505 Submarine. The U-505 is one of only two German Submarines captured in WWII. Although I was only about 4 foot tall, I remember thinking how small the inside of this submarine really was. All the surfaces were hard, painted metal and was cold and menacing. All the dials, gages and meters were unreadable in a foreign language. I felt very uneasy all of a sudden in such a small space with so many people behind me slowly moving, pushing forward wanting to see what I just saw. Then an few more steps... bam... you find yourself outside the sub and the tour is over. Nice. Throughout my childhood, I never missed seeing the U-505 Submarine exhibit when visiting the Museum of Science and Industry.

posted by Neil Jan Gale, Director, Chicago Postcard Museum

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Hungry? Me too. I found myself driving by Devon and Milwaukee Avenues on Chicago's Northwest side last week. Low and behold there is the SuperDawg Drive-in.

Superdawg is a 1950's style, car hop service drive-in. Yes... the waitresses come to bring your food to you in your car and leave a tray on your car window with napkins, salt, and ketchup along with your food order.

It was about 1:45 in the afternoon when I pulled into the nearly full parking lot. I carefully backed up into a stall. A couple of fine maneuvers to get close enough to reach the menu board, to push the order button, without having to open the car door. It's also very important to be close enough to the menu board so when you're ready to leave, you can flip the 'tray pick-up' switch. Then the waitress will know you're done and want your tray removed.

Superdawg's hot dogs are about the best 'Chicago style' hot dog you can get. As I was ordering my 'Superdawg" with everything and hot peppers, I noticed the souvenirs section on the menu board. "Will that complete your order?" a woman's voice said through the speaker. "I'll have 2 postcards too." I said. Completely satisfied knowing that the Chicago Postcard Museum will have a Superdawg postcard in it's collection, and I'll be eating one of the best hot dogs and fries around.

Do you know any cool Chicago places with their own postcard(s)?

posted by, Neil Jan Gale, Director
Chicago Postcard Museum

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I'm Neil Jan Gale the Director of the Chicago Postcard Museum. I was seven years old and dragged by my Aunt to a small suburban community art fair and collectible show. I remember the fair was outside on the sidewalks and also on a blocked street. While my Aunt went looking at stuff that a seven year old really didn’t care about, I was left at a dealers table full of shoe boxes of postcards.

I didn’t really know what to look for. I fixated on the postmark date and tried to find the oldest dated postcard from all those shoe boxes. After about an hour, my Aunt came back to the dealers table. “Did you find anything interesting?” she said. In my hand was a very old postcard. It had no picture and nothing to do with Chicago, but there it was. A postmark of June 4, 1885. I did it! 1885 was still old in 1967, right?

The dealer was a really old scruffy guy (from a seven year olds perspective) sitting on a tiny little stool in the only corner of shade in his booth area. He got up and came to the front of the booth. I handed him the postcard I picked out and reached in my pocket for my money. “That’ll be 25¢” he said. But before I could even move, my Aunt jumps in with “What’s the best you can do on the price? He’s only seven and is paying with his own money.” Now even at that age, I felt uncomfortable when the man look at me, then at the postcard, then at me again, and says “Well............... (there was an awkward 20 minutes of silence) O.K., how’s a dime sound.”

When I got home that day and looked at the postcard I bought, I realized that all I had to stare at was an old postmark. Nothing else on the postcard really got me excited. I thought to myself that the next time I see old postcards at shows I was going to look for pictures of Chicago since I live there and can relate to the pictures.

I never stopped collecting Chicago postcards from that day forward. Over 40 years collecting and I always ask the dealer “what’s the best you can do?” and wait for them to answer. The first one who speaks looses.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Greetings. I’m Neil Jan Gale and the Director of the Chicago Postcard Museum at I’m going to start off this blog with a little gripe I have about postcard photos/images on Internet auction sites.

Recently I purchased some Chicago postcards over the internet and on internet auction sites. First, is it too much to ask for a front and back image of the postcard you are selling? Is that image you posted on your auction from your cell phone?.

Hey… If you’re going to sell paper collectibles, such as postcards, buy a scanner. As the old saying goes: A scanned image is worth a thousand words. I say that great images (yes, multiple images) on auction sites make more profit. Try providing a digital image large enough to see fine detail. The Chicago Postcard Museum works with an image size of 1024x667 pixels at 96 dpi for the large detailed image and then a thumbnail of 280x182 pixels at 96 dpi..

There. How therapeutic! Now you give it a try. Any gripes or comments?.