So imagine my surprise when he asked me to go. My response was.....listen, I will go to any museum, historical monument, point of interest, heck...any worn bronze plaque at the drop of a hat. Of course, I said yes.
Thus, we found ourselves wending our way westbound to the City of Fort Worth, Texas, their slogan, "Where the West begins". My GPS, Patty, got us there without incident on a frigid 30 degree workday. After parking, we entered to find every little kid and Soccer Mom in the Fort Worth area present in the Museum. It was Winter (yes...formally known as, no longer politically-correct, Christmas-) Break and Moms were doing something to keep the kiddos occupied. So among the screams and cries of all those inquisitive minds, we drew out our trusty map and headed in.
The museum's history actually began in 1939 when the local council of Administrative Women in Education began a study of children's museums, with the idea of starting one in Fort Worth. Two years later the charter was filed, but it would be almost four years before the museum would find a physical home. With the help of the city's school board, a charter to establish a Fort Worth Children's Museum was filed with the State of Texas.
The purposes of the new museum were listed as: "The maintenance of a place where geological, biological, and zoological collections may be housed; to increase and diffuse a knowledge and appreciation of history, art, and science; to preserve objects of historic, artistic, and scientific interests; and to offer popular instruction and opportunities for esthetic enjoyment." The museum opened in early 1945 in two rooms in a local Elementary School.
The Museum....like the brochure says, is mostly made for kids. It was a holiday and they were clearly catering to the kids who were there. But we did get to see some pretty cool adult stuff too.
|A Seismic Vibrator Truck|
There were the usual exhibits for rocks and dinosaurs but one kind of stuck out. The Cattle Raisers Museum. Not sure how raising cattle meets the criteria for a Science Museum but....I'll roll with it.
In 1979, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association members formed the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Foundation. They wanted to preserve and protect the heritage of the livestock industry of the Southwest, the Foundation's wanted to educate students and the general public as to the ways of the cattle industry. The Cattle Raisers Museum officially opened in 1980 and in November, 2009, the Museum relocated and re-opened within the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History which just happens to be right next door to the Will Rogers Memorial Center, home of the ginormous Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
Ok...a little branding lesson. The Longhorn head formed by the facing numbers 7 and 7 resting on a bar signify the founding of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in 1877. The three parts of the continuous circle represent the independence, courage and commitment of generations of ranching families who built the industry. The horns extending outside the circle symbolize a vision with no boundaries or limitations. Ok...very existential for Cowboy stuff.
It was actually kind of cool to see all the riding tack, the different trails and the famous cattle drovers like Charles Goodnight of Lonesome Dove fame. Ok...little trivia. Most folks know about Blue Bell Ice Cream made right here in Brenham, Texas. Well the name Blue Bell derives from the lead steer of Goodnight's JA Ranch herd. His name was "Old Blue" and led many of the cattle drives from Fort Worth to Dodge City Kansas. Blue was so good and knew the trail so well,it was said he knew the trail better than the cowboys who ran the herds. He is remembered by the Museum by displaying his Bell. And now you know.
The exhibits take you through the history of raising and driving cattle to market. From the early days of the cattle drive to the current railroad and truck methods of moving cattle to market. there's a staggering collection of ornate saddles, spurs, barbed wire and, of course...the guns. Some of the finest examples of rifles and six-shooters you'll ever see.
|Bill trying to stick a card into a target|
|Helena taking one for the team|
We had a little time to wait for our Planetarium show so we decided to leave and get something to eat. I tried my new iPhone and asked Siri who led us to a hamburger joint close by. We were fortunate enough to be close to Fred's Original Texas Cafe on Currie Street. Founded in 1978 by Chef Terry Chandler, in a really homy old single story building in what is now the Fort Worth Art District. But it looks really out-of-place. I would venture to say the neighborhood may have been the victim of urban renewal in that it is now dwarfed by modern apartment and multi-story parking structures.
Well...you know....you can always tell the quality of a burger when you bite into it and are rewarded by that little puddle of yellow grease forming below on your plate. Not a steady flow but the gentle drip, drip, drip of exquisitely rendered fat which will probably require the remnants of a crispy fry to sop it up with. Yeah...you know what I'm talking about. Quite delicious. Oh yeah, Bill said he thought his quesadilla was ok too. If you're ever in the area....check Fred's out.
Back to the museum and our rendezvous with the Planetarium. The Noble Planetarium is named after Ms. Charlie Mary Noble. Yep...a rather famous local woman. She went to college back in the 1890s when few women did, earning her Bachelors degree in Science from the University of Texas (Go Longhorns) and a Masters degree in Science from Texas Christian University (TCU) (Go Horned Frogs). She loved math and became a teacher in 1897 in a Fort Worth high school. During her 46 years as a teacher, she started the first children's science club because of her interest in Astronomy.
She was so good, in the mid 1940s, during WWII, Miss Noble was asked to teach a celestial navigation class for U.S. Navy officer trainees at TCU. In 1947 she began teaching an astronomy course at TCU. That same year she organized a Junior Astronomy Club at the Fort Worth Children's Museum, which would later become the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
In 1955 the Museum's Planetarium was dedicated to her, being the first planetarium in the entire world named for a woman. In 1956 she became the first woman to receive the Astronomical League's annual award for her advancement of astronomical knowledge. In 1957 and 1958 Miss Noble organized and ran the Moonwatch Program. Moon-watchers, who were all members of her Junior Astronomy Club at the Museum, tracked the positions of Sputnik and other satellites for the U.S. government that allowed scientists to determine their precise orbits. She passed away in 1959 but is remembered through the programs at the Planetarium that bears her name.
The program we watched was, "Back to the Moon for good". It gave a brief history of our efforts to get to the moon and our failure to capitalize on that achievement. Little piece of trivia, the last mission to the moon returned two months after I graduated High School in 1972 (yes...40 years ago). It went on to present new efforts spurred on by the Google Lunar XPrize. In essence, it requires teams to launch a spacecraft, orbit the moon, land a lander and either that vehicle or an autonomous rover then must traverse 500 meters transmitting pictures back to Earth while doing so by December 31st, 2015 to win the 20 million dollar 1st prize or a 5 million Dollar second prize. There are 18 teams signed up and the clock is ticking.
A wonderful program viewed on their 40 foot dome screen. We had a great time and some pretty good bonding time to boot. Looking forward to the next such outing.