Friday, July 1, 2016

Spending Time in Delta

My dad is a docent at the Topaz Museum in Delta. He's actually on the Board of Directors and this whole project is something I remember being just "big talk" when I was a kid. Really, I could go on and on about the Japanese Interment Camp that was located just a few dusty roads away form my childhood home (and I always did as an English Teacher), but instead I'll just write about our trip to the museum and try to convince you, you should go too. 

Currently, the museum is functioning as an art gallery, while they continue working on getting the different displays and overall story ready. I'm always amazed by the variety of art techniques that were used in the various Japanese American Internment Camps. The museum displays charcoal paintings, water paintings, shell jewelry, and much more. The people interned at the camp found many ways to use the desert's limited resources to create beauty. Despite taking few belongings with them, they found ways to keep up their hobbies, and the Topaz art school was a big part of camp life (as were things like Baseball and rock gardens).

Despite their super young ages, my kids were really into the museum. Even the art gallery parts. They took time to look at numerous paintings and ask me intriguing questions. I was surprised they weren't more into the shell jewelry. The Western part of Utah was once buried under a huge lake, and the internees at Topaz would search the dirt looking for (tiny) old shells, then paint them and turn them into beautiful broaches or hair pins or home decor items. It really is amazing, and I have no pictures of them! I do, however, have a few pictures of some of my favorite artwork.    

The kids' favorite part of the museum was the replica barracks. They had so many questions about how people lived there ("in ancient times"). And what sorts of items the people used to sustain their living. They imagined what it would be like if the barracks housed our family. They gave each of us bed assignments and tried to figure out where we'd eat and play. 

We spent a lot of time investigating the block maps. I pointed out where the "kitchen" and "bathroom" for each barrack was and tried to help them understand how many people (barracks) had to share that kitchen and bathroom. They actually didn't seem that concerned that hundreds of families had to share their intimate spaces with one another. I wonder how they'd feel if we suddenly had to use community bathrooms and mess halls? I bet their concern would increase greatly.

They took special note of the watch towers and water tanks. They even spotted some tiny rock gardens. We spent quite a bit of time looking at these boards. And of course they had questions about everything else they saw in the old barrack. They especially enjoyed it when Grandpa was done giving tours and joined us.

Since my dad was done volunteering, we decided to go next door to the Great Basin Museum. I hadn't been to their new location, and I must say it was quite an improvement from the old run down house they had when I was a kid. PS both museums are free to the public! 

The entire museum was a step back in time. Delta was founded in 1907 and it really felt like they had every type of office you could imagine existing between 1907 and the early part of WWII. Nell's favorite was the law office. "This is where Daddy would work, take a picture of me and send it to Daddy!" Reid's favorite was the old post office. The offices that always surprise (and scare) me the most are the old dentist office (chairs) and Doctor office (tools). 

There is a barn out back that showcases some pretty cool (old) farm equipment. My dad actually remembers having a thrasher like the one in the bottom photo. Ironically, my kids never used the word "ancient" when we were in this museum. I tried to explain to them that 95% of the things in this museum were actually older than the houses and artwork in the Topaz museum, but they weren't buying it. I guess the lack of technology (and space) in the barracks made them think that must have taken place a looooooooong time ago. Silly kids. 

As a kid my favorite part of the Great Basin Museum was always the mineral, rock, and fossil display. It is still top notch at the new location and definitely worth the look. The desert offers some pretty amazing gems. 

Just kiddie corner across the street from the (free) museums is the city park, and it is also much improved since my own childhood. They've put in a really cool creek and waterfall feature where my dad's old District Office once stood. Behind there (near the old soccer field -- which still exists) is a splash pad, but my kids always prefer the creek and waterfall to the splash pad. Silly kids. 

Maybe it's because I technically grew up in Sutherland, or maybe Delta really has improved with time (and distance), but as an adult I have to say I'm pretty impressed with all this town has to offer from a "tourist" perspective. You could easily spend a day enjoying the area before heading out to Great Basin National Park.

The Chinese restaurant on Main street offers better food than any I've found out here in Wisconsin, and there are a few great Mexican places to eat (which are significantly better than (further from the border) here in Wisconsin). Of course, the day before we came home I had to take the kids to the Delta Freeze for some delicious soft serve milkshakes. It may be a tiny little town that's hard to spot on a map, but my kids were definitely impressed by our adventures in Delta. 

1 comment:

Pa said...

Loved your blog post. I am like you, I think Delta really has improved, especially since I was a kid. One thing I do miss are the soda fountains at the drug stores. Now that was amazing!!!

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