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

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