For the past several months I have been employed in a contract position with a military museum. It was a wonderful experience and I took advantage of it by reading dozens of books from their library and asking questions every time I got the chance. Working with the curatorial team allowed me the chance to not just read or hear about artifacts and their significance but to actually see and even touch some of them. All that being said, here are six of the things that I was glad to have learned:
- During WWII the military hired prominent fashion designers to create women's uniforms to entice them to join the force.
- This practice was clearly done by the time the 1970s rolled around, as evidenced by the presence of awful sea foam green dresses.
- You can buy parts to repair almost anything from tanks to boots online.
- I learned that the walking stick that fellas in suits used in the early 1900s are called "Swagger Sticks" and that many people owned several of them.
- At the end of WWII everything that the soldiers used was recycled and passed down to future soldiers. At the end of WWI, the world believed that there would never be another war -- that it was the "war to end all wars." Because of this, soldiers were allowed to take their equipment and uniforms home. In the 1920s, one could find helmets used in households for anything from flower pots to utility buckets because they were easy to find and inexpensive. Thus, WWI uniform parts in good condition are rare and highly sought after.
- I never thought much about the origin of the expression treating something with "kid gloves." But while cataloging a pair of "kid-skin gloves" I learned what it was. The soft, velvety leather is so buttery smooth getting slapped with them wouldn't hurt a fly.
I'm sure there are many other lessons I learned, some less interesting than others. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at the Minnesota Military Museum and to have met the wonderful employees, volunteers and board members.