By MARY HURSH
One of the perks of being a board member of the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum is that I get to open and close the museum when our director is away visiting a school or planning an event with one of our partners in town. Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy four hours at the museum. Since I actually do many of the displays for our new cases, I was happy to have some extended time at our work table.
Because the museum is housed at the Syracuse Community Center, many people come in to walk or play pickle ball in the gym or to play cards and eat lunch with the seniors. While I was there, a couple came in to look at our collection of senior class pictures from the old Syracuse High School. Mike Harris stopped by to look through many of the original programs from plays at the Enchanted Hills Playhouse where he once acted. Through the generosity of Judy Eppich and Elaine Pearson , I was able to include in the display I made, the tragedy and comedy mask from the playhouse as well as a plaque with the names of all the guild members who helped with every aspect of the daily needs of the playhouse. Play programs on display span those from the very first play to the closing play.
My husband, Bud Hursh, who loves anything nautical, actually designed two displays that we currently are featuring. The first display is on Mock’s Marina, once located on Waco Drive. I wrote the story and Bud filled the case with original Mock’s metal plates and marina items that might have been for sale or used at that time by Mock’s. Vance Lopp brought in an original metal plate Mock’s used to stencil their name on many products. My husband also designed the display we did in the fall featuring bow and stern poles, ensigns and burgees used on many of the wooden boats owned by area residents. He said that “the uniqueness of the ensigns, burgees and poles has the effect of the finishing touch to floating art from a time not forgotten.”
As an Indiana University graduate, I really enjoyed creating the exhibit on the IU Biological Station, which was located at Vawter Park, Lake Wawasee, in 1895. As I read the research we had in our files, I decided to create an exhibit highlighting the work Professor Carl Eigenmann, the director, and his students did at the station. My fellow board member Mike Mock sent me more pictures from the station as well as an excerpt from the IU Arbutus written by a student at the station. We also included pictures from the Indiana Memory Project. Once again, my husband took the pictures and the stories and added IU memorabilia as well as some of his special fish lures to make the exhibit come alive.
Because I have looked often at the chop sticks, fans and menus we have from Foo and Faye’s, an iconic Cantonese restaurant, which operated in Syracuse, I decided to open the file cabinet and read about what made this spot so loved by our town. The result of that research is an upcoming display featuring the outside and inside of the restaurant plus a glimpse into the lives of the owners.
Due to a Heritage Support Grant we received from the Indiana Historical Society made possible by the Lilly Endowment Inc., our arrowhead collection is being identified by professors and students at Ball State University. When the collection returns, visitors will be able to view our collection in three new cases.
Just before I left for the afternoon, I framed six pictures of my sister-in-law, Anita Hursh Cast. She was Miss Indiana in 1958. Her parents built a cottage on Syracuse Lake in 1951 and commuted from Goshen daily during lake season. My husband and I live in that cottage now, and she and her husband live on Lake Wawasee in a cottage that will be featured in our 2018 Centennial Homes presentation this summer.