alycewilson (alycewilson) wrote,

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Second Helping

Sunday morning, my dad had to attend more lectures, which would keep him busy until after we had to head out. The Gryphon and I had to be back home by 3 in order to pick up Una, since our dog sitter had another dog arriving then. We still had some time to do something fun before leaving.

Kit-Kat with The Gryphon and me (Click to enlarge)

The Gryphon and me with Kit-Kat

On our way to get breakfast, much to our surprise, we met the Kit-Kat mascot in the elevator. We asked if we could take a picture with him, and he got the attention of a hotel staffer, who snapped it in the lobby. I've been to Hershey before and never met one of their characters.

First, we had breakfast in the Hershey Grill, which was one of the restaurants at the Hershey Lodge, where we were staying. We sat on the patio next to some nice landscaping, including a koi pond.

The restaurant was fairly quiet. At a table near us, a grandmother tended to two children who were clearly trying to take advantage, figuring that Grandma would be a pushover. The little girl demanded "bacon, toast and sausage," while the boy said he wanted one of everything. She gently guided them towards a healthier breakfast.

I didn't have a grandmother to hold me back, so I ordered a Belgian waffle with chocolate syrup and a strawberry garnish. It was delicious.

We had a little time before we had to leave, so I wanted to do something fun. We'd considered the flower gardens, but rain had started again, so we got information on the Hershey Museum instead. The front desk gave us complimentary tickets, and we took the shuttle over to the museum, located just outside the main gates of Hershey Park.

The museum is interesting, because it comprises a number of different collections. Some sections talk about the history of the town, including some prominent citizens, such as one who used to have his own museum of Pennsylvania German artifacts. Many of those items are now on display.

We viewed the Apostolic Clock, handcrafted by John Fiester in 1878, which was exhibited around the country, billed as the ninth wonder of the world. A museum staffer gave us some background on the clock, played some recorded music from a music box that Fiester used to play with the clock, and narrated the action as it took place. When the clock struck fifteen minutes of the hour, Jesus emerges, with the three Marys above him. The apostles file by, and the devil also makes an appearance.

Outside the room where the Apostolic Clock was kept, we viewed a display about the development of Hershey products over the years, including vintage advertising. You could try on a sample uniform that workers wear in the factory. The Gryphon asserted it looked "child-sized," but it fit me perfectly.

Alyce in Hershey uniform (Click to enlarge)

Another section gave the history of Hershey Park, along with cases that included items such as retired mascots and a 1930s swimsuit park-goers used to be able to rent! A video about the park was running on a loop, and you would sit in an old roller coaster car to view it. We took this opportunity to snap another silly picture.

Alyce in a coaster car (Click to enlarge)

For some reason, a number of cement blocks were on display that had apparently come from a walk of fame that was apparently made in the 1980s, with celebrities leaving their hand prints and signatures. There was no information about where the walk had been and why it had been removed, but I was amused to discover that George Burns had very small hands: the same size as mine! Then again, I think he was about my height, too.

We caught the tail end of a demonstration on how the different blends of chocolate are made. The museum employee didn't mix anything in front of us, but she did show us the different components and explain what they add to the chocolate. Afterwards, we could come up and hold an actual cocoa pod, which had a hole drilled into it so you could smell the chocolatey dried-up beans inside. She also gave us each a Hershey's kiss. This was not the first time we'd received complimentary chocolate during our trip: we also got Hershey's kisses with our check at dinner the previous night and some miniatures in the hotel room, left by the cleaning staff.

In another section, you could learn what it was like to work in the factory in the 1930s and 1940s, based on information gathered in 1999 from an oral history project. According to former Hershey employees, it was hot, dangerous work. The chocolate in its various stages was carted around the factory in rolling bathtubs, and workers had to pour it into bins by hand, using buckets. The machines didn't stop, so there was always the danger of losing a bucket or having your hand smashed.

Today, you would have trouble convincing someone to work in those conditions, and the automated factory of today is no doubt far safer. The retired employees, though, claimed that the handmade process produced richer chocolate.

Another gallery housed a collection of Native American cultural artifacts gathered by Milton Hershey himself. In one room, you could try on some Native American garments, including a baby board, which was used by placing a leather strap over the forehead, which supported the board as it hung down the back. Again, I couldn't help trying them out. Here I am, grinding imaginary corn in my painted hogan.

Alyce in Native American gear (Click to enlarge)

Considering that the museum has only one floor, it took us about an hour and a half to get through it, and we could have taken longer if we'd read every display, word for word. But the timing was perfect for us, and we caught the hotel shuttle back to the hotel. We'd already loaded our luggage into the car, so we headed home.

We made good time, arriving at the dog sitter's just before 3, as promised. Since we'd eaten rich food the previous day, we stayed home for dinner and had veggie burgers and corn.

In some ways, I enjoyed Sunday's activities more than Saturday's, simply because I felt more relaxed and didn't have to spend a lot of time waiting in line. While the museum is $7 admission for adults ($3.50 for ages 3-12), if you're looking for something to do during a rainy stretch at the park, it's worth visiting.

Surprises can be sweet.

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Tags: amusement parks, dad, food, gryphon, museums, photos

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