Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wielding the Big Bats

You walk in past the biggest bat ever (Paul Bunyan would have a time with this one that measures 120 ft.) into the factory where over 60 % of Major League players get their bats--the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

The tour starts out in an interactive area. You find out what kind of wood is used for bats and how it is harvested and learn how to tell if it is good enough for the joes (average that is) or the pros. You can compare bats from past players with those of current ones and swing them to see how they travel through the air and how they are balanced.

From there, you go into the factory itself. You see the hand lathe that used to make the bats and the computer-driven one that now makes them. Each player has his own template. The computer is programmed with his template to make his bats. Then the bats are painted or stained. The player's name is either painted on or burned into the wood. All along the tour, you get to touch and swing all sorts of bats. Especially cool were the special pink bats used on Mother's Day and then sold on eBay for breast cancer research. At the end of the tour all participants receive a mini-bat made from wood that has too many flaws to be used for bigger bats.

We then explored the wall where all the players who ever used a Louisville Slugger are listed by their signatures. There's a special spot for the Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken, my personal fave. We visited the Negro League Art Gallery, the batting cage area and of course, the gift shop. We even saw a movie about hitting taught by the pros, past and present, called "The Heart of the Game." 5 pm and closing time came too soon. (literally for us; we didn't realize that we'd passed back into Eastern Standard Time and lost an hour. :P) Next stop, Snooks'!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Missouri

Disney Trivia--where did Walt Disney pattern his Main Street USA's after?

Give up?

Marceline, MO. At least that's what trivia buffs say. Steve and I couldn't see the resemblance really when we stopped by to visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, housed in the old train depot. It was kinda exciting to be so close when trains went past at full speed. The miniature Disneyland upstairs was cool, but really the museum was underwhelming.

The Loopy Ewe in St. Louis, MO stirred my knitter's blood though. I love this store online and when I heard that we'd be traveling close enough to visit, I jumped up and down with joy. Imagination proved no contest to the real thing. Loved the socks on the wall, loved the knitting quotes, loved the masses and masses of yarn, loved meeting Sheri and Knitting Daughter. Then she gave us a suggestion for dinner at a nearby pizza joint with double decker pizza. Wow! What a great stop! More than made up for the lameness of the Marceline.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Truman Library

1.You might not want to read this post. You might find it boring. It's not going to have any pictures. I couldn't find them on the computer. I tried. The Lord Himself knows I tried but to no avail.
2. So we've got to go on with my skills as a writer. For that, see 1.

Anywho, here it goes.

At the Eisenhower library, Steve and I picked up a brochure of all the Presidential Libraries in the US. Being the wonks that we are, we decided that in addition to visiting all the major league baseball stadiums in the US we should try for all the Presidential Libraries, too. Lo and behold right in the next town over in Independance, MO, Truman had opened his Presidential Library. Joy and rapture! Off we drove.

After a bit of a tiff on where we should park (which I chalk up to long hours stuck together in a small car), we entered the wide front hall to pay and start our journey into Truman's life. We started with a film about his life to get an overview. Hmm, he lived through FDR's death, dropping the A-Bomb, the end of WWII, recovering from the war, the Berlin Airlift, the start of the Cold War and the starting of prosperity in America. Okay, I guess we didn't need to run out screaming.

Before we entered the exhibits proper, we entered this roundish room filled flanked by two exhibits one on letters from Truman to his wife (sweet) and one on something else that I don't remember now but thought it was clever at the time. The roundish room was a mock-up of the Oval Office during Truman's time. Truman's desk was huge and set up for two people to work on it. The artwork and decorations were certainly mid-west and masculine. Fascinating to see the seat of all power here in the US.

More fascinating, however, were the exhibits. I especially loved the interactive ones called Decision Theatres in which the viewer could examine how Truman did his job i.e. make world altering decisions. He seemed to be an out-of-the-box thinker who also was swayed by his heart. He was liberal for his time, but I, conservative that I am, agreed with all his decisions. Could the liberals of yesterday be the conservatives of today or do liberals just push the envelope so that liberal today is even more way out? Or am I not really conservative? Also, I had never really thought about post-War Europe and how ravaged it was and strapped for cash. Helping sort all that out was a great part of his legacy. I had also never thought about how television,televison advertising and all the news available really changed America in the 1950's. I just love being stretched. Really.

After leaving the Presidency, Truman established his Library and could be found there most days, getting there even earlier than the staff and even answering phones. Apparently, like Disney, he thought that the library shouldn't ever be static because there were very modern exhibits and even a children's interactive area.

Steve and I enjoyed the Truman Library even more than the Eisenhower one, even though we really enjoyed that one, too. I love getting a sense of the man and his times. Now I can't wait to go back to California and see Reagan's and Nixon's libraries.