CONTEST! Flashback to 1955 – and Win!

This is a guest post from Kristal Howard of Kroger – one of the generous sponsors of our current Texas! The Exhibition. She’s sharing a fascinating look back at the year 1955 – and an opportunity to win $50 in Kroger gift cards plus tickets to see Texas!

The world around us is constantly changing and evolving. No year is ever the same. Current events, music artists and gas prices trend differently from year to year.

Imagine a world where gas is 23 cents a gallon, minimum wage is $1 per hour and the average home costs $11,000! In 1955, this was reality for Americans.

In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office and the wording “In God We Trust” was added to all U.S. paper currency.

In the mid-50s, popular television programs included “Lassie,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Perry Mason.” Do any of these shows ring a bell?

Elvis Presley rocked the music scene and had fans all shook up. Other successful rock-and-rollers during this era were Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino.

Films “Oklahoma,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” featuring legendary actor James Dean, and “The Seven Year Itch” hit the big screen.

Oil Boom
Texas! The Exhibition begins with Texas first indigenous residents
– and runs all the way through the Spindletop era.

Did you know that some of today’s leading pop culture icons and inventors were born in 1955? Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, claim 1955 as their birth year.

Disneyland opened its doors on July 17 in Anaheim, California and “The Mickey Mouse Club” debuted on ABC the same year. Another entertainment option debut included the first edition of the widely-popular “Guinness Book of World Records.”

On the home front, the average monthly rent was $87 and the median household income was $4,130. More than 7.9 million cars were sold in the U.S. this year with 7 out of 10 families owning a motor car. This year also marked the passing of new legislation that required seat belts to be installed in all new cars.

This year marked the beginning of the fast food craze. The first McDonalds opened for business and TV dinners grew in popularity when the Tappan Stove Co. introduced the home microwave oven, which retailed for $1,300! Despite the emergence of quick food options, grocery stores were still in demand in 1955. Locally, Kroger entered the Houston market after acquiring the Henke and Pillot chain.

Are you interested in seeing how far $50 will go in 2011?

Leave us a comment on this post with your favorite history fact, and you’re entered to win $50 in Kroger gift cards and four tickets to see Texas! The Exhibition at HMNS! We’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, Aug. 5 – so get your entry in!

Flickr Photo of The Month: Dinosaurs!

E5_P6110278
E5_P6110278 by etee on Flickr

There are some amazing photographers that wander the halls of HMNS – as well as the areas surrounding the Museum in Hermann Park. When we’re lucky, they share what they capture in our HMNS Flickr pool. Each month, we highlight one of these photos here on the blog.

This month, we’re featuring a photo from Ed Truitt (known on Flickr as etee), taken during one of this summer’s Prehistoric Monsters member events – where we previewed what’s coming for our new paleontology hall (opening summer 2012!)

I loved this photo for two reasons: one, it’s almost impossible to get a photo in the planetarium, because it has to be incredibly dark in order for the projection to function properly. So in addition to being a pretty compelling image (what are they looking at?!) this photo is excellent for being rare. Also, these people are learning about dinosaurs, from one of the world’s most famed paleontologists. And that’s pretty cool.

Here’s what Ed had to say about his photo:

I actually had two things in mind when I went to the Museum this particular evening. The first was to try out a new camera I had recently acquired (how I got it is a story in and of itself.) Of course, I have never found the Museum lacking for subjects to shoot (photographically speaking), and there are enough different lighting situations it is a good place to test a new camera.

The second reason, of course, was to hear Dr. Bakker speak. As a dino-nerd from the time I was in elementary school (I still remember the day in 4th grade where I gave a 45 minute lecture to the class on dinosaurs: I was just getting warmed up with the teacher thanked me and said she really had to get on with the rest of the subjects), I remember the twin pillars of dinosaur orthodoxy: they were reptilian, and they were cold-blooded. So, the chance to hear the Great Heretic speak? Was something I just could not pass up.

Anyway, as far as the picture goes: I had been taking photos of Dr. Bakker, the slides being displayed on the ceiling, and the posters. Every so often I would go for a crowd shot. When Dr. Bakker moved to the back of the room, I decided this was a good opportunity to test the Live View function of the camera, as well as the articulated LCD screen. So, I swing the LCD out, pointed the camera over my shoulder, and got the shot. While more the result of serendipity (some might call it ‘luck’) than a planned and carefully composed image, when I saw it I really liked it, for it told a story – several, in fact.

One story I think this photo tells is how Dr. Bakker interacts with the audience. Unlike a traditional lecturer who stands at a podium and talks through a PowerPoint slide deck, he was walking up and down the aisle throughout his talk, interacting with the members. The other story I see is the fact that there is something – though exactly what, isn’t shown – that has the audience’s collective attention. Men, women, and children, there is something ‘out there’ that has them all (or most of them, anyway) enthralled.

You can also see Ed’s photos of Audrey, our new corpse flower!

Inspired? Most of the Museum’s permanent galleries are open for photography, and we’d love for you to share your shots with us on Flickr, Facebook or Twitter. Check out the HMNS photo policy for guidelines.

Dr. Bob Bakker – Special Appearance!

Dr. Robert T. Bakker, world renowned paleontologist and curator, will be making a special appearance at HMNS at Sugar Land TOMORROW (Friday, July 29th) for our Friday Family Fun Night “Dino-MITE!

Dress as a Paleontologist and enter the dynamic world of dinosaurs! Try your hand at fossil prep and discover real fossil bones! Visit the real fossil petting zoo on your journey down Dinosaur Alley! Snacks, crafts, activities and fun for the whole family! Children must be accompanied by adults and adults must be accompanied by children.

HMNS Fossil Snake CT Scanning at Methodist Hospital
Dr. Bakker analyzes the CT scan of a fossilized snake

Bring your young paleontologist to HMNS at Sugar Land tomorrow night and meet him in person!

There is a limited number of Dr. Bakker’s book “Dino Babies!” available for purchase and he will be signing books and mingling with the crowds from 7:30-9pm.

Tickets available here.