Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Springfield's Hidden Treasures -- September 2, 2009




OLLI's first trip of the Fall 2009 season was a success -- we had gorgeous weather, a variety of interesting educational experiences, great food, and all day to learn about the hidden treasures in our state capitol.

The day started with a tour of the Museum of Funeral Customs, located next to the main entrance to Oak Ridge Cemetery. Although more than 500,000 visitors pass through the gates of the cemetery each year, the museum has had to close due to lack of interest and income. The museum is in the hands of the Illinois Funeral Home Directors Association, which is attempting to reopen the museum on a full-time basis. Fortunately for OLLI, the museum director, Duane Marsh, agreed to let us visit and see the unique (and sometimes macabre) exhibits.

The exhibits included a home funeral parlor, circa 1865, a woman's mourning dress, a 1913 hearse carriage, goverment-issued headstones for Civil War soldiers, an embalming room from the late 1920s, and a replica of President Lincoln's coffin and funeral route.

Of particular interest were the restorative materials and prosthetics once used by morticians, such as wax noses, ears, and eyelids. We learned the difference between coffins and caskets (the latter are curved), the mourning practices of various religions, and some of the rigid rules governing dress after a death in the 19th century (all black for up to two years, including buttons, pins, and brooches).

After a short visit to Oak Ridge Cemetery's Korean, Vietnam, and World War II memorials and Lincoln's tomb, we traveled to beautiful Washington Park for a private tour of the Rees Memorial Carillon. Opened in 1962, the 10-story open tower has 67 cast bronze bells covering a range of 5 1/2 chromatic octaves. The carillon was cast by the 300-year-old bellfoundry of Petit & Fritsen, Ltd.,in Aarle-Rixtel, The Netherlands. All of the bells are played manually by means of the keyboard located in the carillonneur's cabin.

For lunch, we stopped at Saputo's, a Springfield tradition and a favorite destination for traveling dignitaries, celebrities, and politicians. Our buffet menu included chicken parmigana, homemade ravioli, baked mostaccioli, rigatoni alfredo, Italian meatballs, salad, and spumoni. A big thank you to Jackie, our server, for serving us so quickly and catering to our every need!

After lunch, we drove to Camp Lincoln, headquarters of the Illinois National Guard, to tour the Illinois State Military Museum. We viewed exhibits that covered the actions of the military in Illinois from early militia through current military operations throughout the world. The collection included the artificial leg of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna; the wooden target board that President Abraham Lincoln used to test fire the Spencer rifle in 1863; and the entire collection of weapons, flags, uniforms, and personal effects associated with Union General John A. Logan. It also featured an exhibit case containing the names and images of fallen heroes of the Illinois Army and Air National Guard from the Global War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few brave OLLI members even sat in a cockpit trainer for an F-16 Fighting Falcon used by the Illinois Air National Guard.

The last stop of the day was at the state fairgrounds, wherein lies the Illinois Fire Museum. Open to the public since 1994 by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Illinois Fire Museum is home to one of the nation's largest fire department patch collections. The museum is actually located in a fire station built in 1938, and houses an authentic 1857 horse drawn hand pumper, complete with water buckets. The antique pumper is parked next to a shiny brass fire pole once used by state fairgrounds firefighters.

OLLI thanks all of our tour guides and hosts at each site for making our visit to Springfield a fabulous one!

1 comment:

  1. Once again, another incredible trip from OLLI. I love going on your adventures.

    ReplyDelete

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