Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for December, 2013

Toy and Plastic Brick Museum “Unofficial LEGO Museum”

The sign out front says "Unofficial Lego Museum".

The sign out front says “Unofficial Lego Museum”.

Building blocks have been a favorite gift for many years. That tradition continues today with evolvement of blocks from wooden to plastic, including animation possibilities.

An active imagination can create almost anything from Lego plastic bricks. Dan Brown, museum curator at the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum, displays proof of that.  He has collected enough Lego blocks to earn the museum the title of “Largest Personal Collection of Lego Blocks in the World”. There’s no doubt about that fact as Dan has over four million Lego blocks…a number  that increases almost daily.

This Toy Museum is for all those who enjoy the world of Lego art- young and old alike. The name Lego actually comes from a contraction of two Danish words: leg godl, translated “play well.”  Lego began as a builder of wooden toys. Then in 1937 Ole Kirk Christiansen began making plastic blocks.

Plastic Brick Museum Sign in front of building.

Plastic Brick Museum Sign in front of old school building.

You can’t judge a book, or a building, by its cover, as surprise after surprise waits inside this old school. The former Gravel Hill Middle School in Bellaire, Ohio has three floors of amazing suprises, which all involve Lego blocks!  Since there wasn’t enough room here for Dan, he bought another local school to store his spare parts. Dan has a great sense of humor as he hoards Legos for future use. While shaking his head, Dan describes himself as “a crazy guy who wanted to retire and open a Lego Museum in Bellaire, Ohio!”

"The Vault" contains original Monopoly set in gold.

“The Vault” contains original Monopoly set in gold.

When entering the main lobby on the second floor, amid all the Lego creations, a large display case called “The Vault” catches the eye. This was purchased from Disneyland and features a real gold 2 x 4 brick and an original gold Monopoly set. Throughout the museum, items from all over the world appear…most of them being Legos!

Lego Mona Lisa with Lego artist giving a final touch.

Lego Mona Lisa with Lego artist giving a final touch.

Lego creations of Mt Rushmore and Mona Lisa also add interest. Mona Lisa has a small Lego figure painting the finishing touches on that portrait. Major creations, like these murals, have been glued together to save future repair work, while many of the Legos are assembled just as youngsters would at home. Another fun fact on the walls of the museum estimates there are 52 Lego blocks for every person on the planet.  Do you have your share?

World's Largest Lego Mural on gym floor.

World’s Largest Lego Mural on gym floor with animated band on stage.

After walking down a carpet made in the pattern of Lego blocks, you arrive in the old gymnasium. Before your eyes is the largest Lego image in the world – a mosaic of an 18-wheeler tractor trailer. Designed by Brian Korte, this giant image was created by over 250 local school children with the help of AFOLs (Adult Friends of Legos). It contains over 1.2 million Lego blocks and measures 44 feet by 21 feet.

Some of those same Lego enthusiasts, the builders of tomorrow, are now attempting to construct the tallest Lego tower in the world. It begins in the basement, going up through an air shaft. They have even cut a hole in the roof so it can reach the sky. Plans at this point are for the tower to reach forty feet above the building.

Lego Train Room is animated at the push of a button.

Lego Train Room is animated at the push of a button.

Each of the classrooms throughout the building overflows with themed room Lego designs from Knights Room to Mission to Mars.  The Toy Museum also has Guiness World Records for the largest Lego castle, and longest Lego castle wall. As you can imagine, the sign “Do Not Touch” appears frequently throughout the museum but some find it hard to resist. Therefore, they have a special area where you can sit and build your own creations.

Designs from this favorite plastic brick come to life with many examples of animation…a favorite being a lively band called Plastica, which appears on the stage in the old gymnasium. The musical figures were purchased from a department store in New York City, the place Dan called home for most of his life while he worked in the world of computers. The band is powered pneumatically, showing that the world of Legos is more complicated than just building with blocks. It’s a world of engineering as well.

Youngsters always have fun with Lego projects.

Youngsters always have fun with Lego projects.

If you or someone in your family enjoys creating with Lego blocks, this is the perfect place to explore.  Buiding with blocks is a real brain stimulator. Did you know that possible combinations of six Lego eight-plugged blocks can create 209,000,000 seemingly endless combinations? You might get some new ideas while you explore! What will you build next with your Legos?

Bellaire Toy and Plastic Block Museum can be reached off I-70 at the Bridgeport exit. Take Route 7 south to the 48th Street Drive. Turn west two blocks until you reach a dead end. Turn left and within two blocks you will be at the museum on the right hand side at 4597 Noble Street. Hours during the winter months are 12-5 on weekends, while during the summer season, the museum is open Wed. – Sun. 12-5. For more information, call 740-671-8890.

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Best Beard Contest

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

At the end of every summer, Nick began growing a beard to keep his face warm when working outside in the winter. At least that was the man’s excuse. His wife thought this good natured fellow just didn’t want to fuss with shaving.

But this year, Nick had a second reason. There was an article in the paper about a Dickens Whiskers Wars Beard and Mustache Competition. Like the men of Charles Dickens time, Nick thought it was very manly to have facial hair. With a long, full beard perhaps there was a chance to win the “Best Beard” category.

The contest would be in November so getting an early start was important. How could he speed up the process of developing a long, bushy beard? Nick read that facial hair would grow more quickly if a man is well rested and free from stress. So when his wife wanted the lawn mowed or leaves raked, Nick would give a nod of the head and say, “My beard doesn’t need that kind of stress.” Smoking a pipe with feet on a stool created more relaxation.

Nick's beard was snowy white.

Nick’s beard was snowy white.

Nick made a trip to the local drug store to pick up some biotin and B vitamins, which increase growth of hair and nails. A circular massage of his face while relaxing on the couch in the evening would also stimulate hair growth. Certainly these healthy additions, as routine parts of the day, would assist in creating the best beard possible.

Actually, all of these steps were making Nick’s beard look fantastic. His full beard was nearly a foot long with a snow-white glow. As the contest rapidly approached, Nick headed to a favorite restaurant for a couple of hamburgers, because protein also is important for beard growth.

With all Nick’s resting and eating, quite a few extra pounds had been added. No longer could a belt meet after traveling through the belt loops, so suspenders became the best way to support the larger jeans.

A little girl ran to the restaurant.

A little girl ran to the restaurant.

As Nick sat at the table wearing suspenders over a red plaid shirt with a red cap on his head, a little girl ran over and jumped up in his lap.

Her mother hurried over immediately, very upset by her daughter’s behavior. “Cathy, you know you aren’t allowed to talk to strangers.”

“But Mom, it’s just Santa Claus without his uniform.” Cathy’s blue eyes sparkled as she laid her curly blond head against the jolly man she thought was Santa.

“Ho, Ho, Ho,” burst forth from Nick’s lips. Maybe he could win the “Best Beard” contest. As Nick left the restaurant, you could hear him exclaim with his beard snowy white, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Best Wishes for a wonderful Christmas holiday and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.

My wish for you is a wonderful Christmas holiday with family and friends, and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.

Dr Balthasar – Medicine Man Miracle Medicine for Man or Beast

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man

“Try a bottle of Elexir!”

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man, campaigned for everyone’s good health as he presented his wares from town to town. The sign he displayed proclaimed: Miracle Medicine for Man or Beast formulated from an ancient Tibetan recipe. Quite frequently he was referred to as  “a snake-oil salesman”, proclaiming this miracle tonic would cure a great variety of ailments.

The character of Dr. Thelonious Balthasar was created by Mike Follin, an education interpreter with the Ohio Historical Society. He thought this would be a good way to educate folks about life and medical treatment during the 19th century. Before each performance, Mike tells the audience a little about life on the frontier, where the visit of a traveling salesman was great entertainment. Then he transforms into frontier Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man.

Most people appeared at his shows for two reasons: medication and entertainment. Word would spread from house to house when the doctor’s wagon was seen.This slippery snake oil salesman provided gossip and national news, as well as entertainment that cheered the crowd. As he traveled the countryside selling his famous Elexir, one of Dr. Balthasar’s favorite places to stop and tell his tales was in Michigan. There he said the folks were the most gullible and sales were high.

Remains of victim who exploded after refusing treatment

Remains of victim who exploded after refusing treatment

The good doctor, in his rapid fire patter, demonstrated what happened to those who refused his services. A young man who was very ill  boldly told the doctor, “I don’t need your medicine.”  Six months later that same man came back to another Medicine Show and said that perhaps he should have taken the tonic as the pain became worse and worse. Before the doctor could give him the Elexir, the man exploded. Parts of his body went everywhere and had to be scraped up so the Medicine Man could save them in jars, thus demonstrating the importance of taking his tonic. Perhaps it would keep someone else from having the same fate. You can even see an eyeball peeking through one of the jars.

Skeleton, who did not heed the doctor's warning

Skeleton, who did not heed the doctor’s warning

This skeleton was all that was left of another of his patients who had faded away to nothing because they refused to take his medical advice. “If he had purchased this Elixir for only $2, that man might have been cured of his consumption and still be here today.”

” Some of you see men who have had their hair fall out, just like the stars fall from the sky. Why does a man’s hair on the top of his head fall out? Why doesn’t he lose his whiskers? I tell you, he outgrows his hair because he has too much knowledge.”

Dr. Balthasar’s Miracle Medicine was the answer to all health problems.  A free gift was usually promised – free advice. “I stand behind every bottle that I sell of this latest in medical potions,”  were his words of assurance. However, the Medicine Man would usually leave town before customers had a chance to demand a refund. His treatment was very effective, unlike the practicing physician, who told patients to come back in two weeks.  “When you buy my medicine,” explained Dr. Balthasar, “you will never see me again.”

When the government decided they needed to regulate the sale of medications, the Medicine Man was basically put out of business. Patenting medicine made it necessary to list all the ingredients on the bottle. Thus began the time of medicine sales to further pharmaceutical agencies; unfortunately, home remedies were no longer acceptable.

What were the contents of Dr. Balthasar’s famous Elixir? 150-200 proof alcohol, otherwise known as “white lightning”. It certainly made people feel better for a while and forget their problems.

As he closed the show, Dr. Balthasar held up a bottle of his Miracle Medicine proclaiming, “This is the answer to a long and healthy life. I’ll also give you a bit of free advice. Stay away from two types of people: politicians and traveling medicine men.”

Dr. Balthasar, Medicine Man, recently appeared in Cambridge, Ohio as part of their Dickens Victorian Village presentation. Where will he stop next?

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