Sweeter Than Candy: A Texas Story Project

With a name as sweet as Dulces, one might believe my grandfather to have quite the sweet-tooth. Such an assumption is correct because Dulces Rubio “Candy” Castillo is a man who loves his desserts, however, he understood that life couldn’t always be as sweet as the treats that he so enjoys indulging in.

The year was 1964 and in his little town of Dell City, Texas, the high school had invited other high schools from around the state to participate in the basketball tournament. Now, it should be noted that because my grandfather was able work on airplanes and had the personality of a payaso, he was loved by all regardless of their skin color. Make no mistake, it was because of his fair skin and usefulness that he was not looked down upon by the townspeople. Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended all segregation that year, it did not stop one diner owner (on the outskirts of the city) from asking an African American basketball team to leave the premise. Being the kind-hearted man that he still is today, Dulces felt that it was not only cruel to do so, but, that it reflected poorly upon his town. Because he knew the owner of the dive in diner, he asked if he might have a word with him outside of his establishment because he happened to hear the basketball team’s disappointment over being unable to sit inside of a relatively empty diner. This wasn’t upholding the promise that the town had made to accept all basketball players from far and wide into their establishments to honor the spirit of the event. According to my PawPaw , the conversation with the owner (Mr.Hunter) went something like this.

Owner: Is something the matter, Candy?

Dulces: Well, sir, it’s not right what you’re doing. 

Owner: What?

Dulces: The way I figure, we’re supposed to welcome 
everyone here with open arms. 

Dulces: Don’t you agree, Mr.Hunter?

Owner: Hell, Candy that was my wife who said that.
 Not me. I’ll go talk to the misses.

Dulces: Thank you, sir. 

Mr.Hunter allowed the entire basketball team to eat at his establishment free of charge thanks to my PawPaw, but it left a bitter taste in his mouth. He was familiar with discrimination, certainly. But he is the sort of man who only wishes to see the good in people. In his mind, he truly believed that due to the town making the promise that all teams from across the state were welcome to come to the town that this meant that people would act accordingly. This memory stirred something within him that led to an even more interesting discovery about his childhood.

This is a photograph of my grandfather, Dulces Rubio Castillo in high school (the exact date in which it was taken is unknown)

You see, my grandfather was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, but his family moved to Dell City, Texas in 1953, when he was just seven years old. He was used to speaking Spanish at home, and so it wasn’t abnormal that he should speak Spanish amongst his friends at school who also immigrated to the United States with their parents. While he was a bit of a Punchinello he knew that there was a time and a place for his jokes. One day when his class has let out for recess, he began speaking to his friends in his native tongue. It was something that he often did, but he had never had an adult within hearing distance before. The teacher in charge warned him, saying, “we don’t allow Spanish to be spoken in this school.” At the time, many schools wanted children to speak English in order for the immigrant children to assimilate into society.

Supposedly the woman was relieved of her job soon after, but my grandfather said that he didn’t believe that it was due to that incident that she was fired. Throughout his life, my grandfather has experienced humanity at its worst as well as at its best. Regardless of the discrimination that he faced in his childhood, and the discrimination that he witnessed in his late adolescence, he told me that he was happy in Dell City, Texas and that it led to him wanting to come to San Antonio, Texas where he met my grandmother. My Paw Paw’s life was filled with many unsavory moments, but that didn’t stop him from finding a little bit of sweetness wherever he went. 

 

Salsa is Ketching Up!

A Brief History

Salsa: it’s one of the most popular condiments used in the United States, outselling even ketchup and mustard. This well-enjoyed sauce is now making its way into tens of thousands of American homes and its popularity is likely to grow in the not-so-distant-future. But what are the origins of this beloved condiment? One need only look back into antiquity in order to discover its Mesoamerican origins. Historians have speculated that it was the Incans who first created salsa and their recipe spread to other Mesoamerican cultures. The recipes between the three people did not vary greatly, nearly each of them containing some form of nightshade fruit as well as a spicy element.

Today, most people are able to get the ingredients for a salsa at their local supermarkets, but it wasn’t quite so convenient for the indigenous Latin American people. Some of the ingredients used by the Aztecs in their variation of the sauce includes tomato, chile, squash, as well as beans. This combination of ingredients would not be christened as “salsa” until 1571 by the Spanish friar Alonso de Molina. It should be noted that the Spaniards ( as well as all other European nations) were not introduced to the nightshade tomatoes until the mid-sixteenth century.

This is a painting depicting the Aztec marketplace the artist is unknown

Paw’s Really Bad Morning

Salsa can be found in almost every corner store in San Antonio, Texas. I cannot speak for any other city, but I know that I always enjoy picking up a jar of mild Pace Picante sauce. You see, to see salsa isn’t just another condiment. One of my fondest memories of the sauce was when I went over to my cousin’s house one weekend and the entire family was there for his son’s birthday party. Now, the morning after everyone had spent the dancing the night away, my tía Chela made salsa rojo to go with the eggs and barbacoa. My PawPaw (grandfather)  took what was clearly a ketchup bottle and poured it all over his eggs. Given that he was still waking up, he hadn’t realized that it was indeed ketchup that he had poured onto his eggs. Meanwhile, my cousin and I poured as much salsa as we possibly could onto our eggs, competing with one another to see who could consume the most without taking a sip of water. Suddenly, we heard my PawPaw crying out that the “salsa” was too spicy for him and that it tasted strange. My cousin and I found ourselves laughing so hard that we were hardly able to breathe! When I informed my PawPaw that he was, in fact, eating ketchup and not salsa he began to laugh. Later that day when we were cooking hamburgers on the grill, we all ridiculed my grandfather and said that we couldn’t handle the mild spiciness from the ketchup. I suppose that’s why I couldn’t help but talk about salsa for this blog post.

The More You Know

Fun Fact: Today there is a tomato festival called La Tomatina held in Buñol, Spain held every August in which the townspeople throw tomatoes at one another. This festival’s origin is still unknown, but there have been numerous theories speculating their origin. One of the most amusing ones, in my opinion, is the story where a musician was supposedly so terrible that people began to throw tomatoes in the street in order to quiet that very musician. If you don’t believe me then I’d like you to check out the video below to see for yourself! Just in case you want to impress your friends, you can tell them that some people are quite passionate about one of the primary ingrdients used in salsa!

P.O.S. Barnum

Nostalgia 

The post that I favored was perhaps my post on Barnum’s American Museum, which is why I would like to delve into the cruelty that not many seem to focus on. As a child, I remember being taken to The Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. Needless to say, I was amazed by what I saw. The elephants were beautiful, the acrobats left me speechless, and the clowns made me double over with laughter. Of course, this may have been because I was not yet aware of who Pennywise and The Joker were at that age, least I would have no laughed nearly as much as I had during the show. Unfortunately, what I did not know at the tender age of six was how this circus was created by the same man who ran a museum that was dedicated to exploiting men, women, and children for their race as well as their appearances. Barnum’s American Museum was founded in 1841, which is 30 years before the circus was created by P.T. Barnum.

 

Barnum's American Museum drawn and painted in 1853
Barnum’s American Museum drawn and painted in 1853

Behind The Curtain: William Henry Johnson

I went over one specific example of racism by presenting an exhibit that played on Darwinism using an African American man with a malformation in my blog entry weeks ago. The purpose of this exhibit was to show that the man was in the process of evolving into the next stage, from Cro-Magnon to the modern-day man. William Henry Johnson  was given the nicknames “Zip the Pinhead” as well as “What Is It?” Johnson was the son of two slaves, This was not the only case of Barnum’s American Museum using beliefs that stem from racism in order to gain more visitors for their museum. “Origin of the Species,” written by Charles Darwin, was first published in 1859. William Henry Johnson was hired by P.T. Barnum in 1860 and was supposedly well compensated for his work. Regardless, this does little to change the fact that Barnum exploited him because he wanted to use his race in order to show that Johnson was proof of Darwin’s theory. According to The Work History Project, Johnson later went on to travel with the Ringling Brothers circus and was visited by famed people such as The Prince of Wales (Edward Albert).

This is a photograph of William Henry Johnson with one of his costumes on, provided to him my P.T. Barnum
Photograph of William Henry Johnson, Photographer unknown

Behind The Curtain: Joice Heth

This brings me to Joice Heth, also known as George Washington’s nursemaid. Of course, she was not, however, this did not stop P.T. Barnum from using the elder woman (who was a slave) as the main attraction for his museum. It should be noted that upon her death he displayed her body the masses, charging admission for all of those who wished to see the woman who had supposedly lived to the age of 161. Heth received no compensation for working for Barnum, in fact, P.T. Barnum paid her owner (she was enslaved until her death) $1000 in order to use her on his tour across the United States. According to biography.com, there were many protesters who disapproved of Barnum using a slave from the North as an attraction for his show. Slavery would not be abolished until 1865. Joice Heth passed away in 1836, less than twenty years before slavery had been eradicated from the United States.

P.T. Barnum’s advertisement of Joice Heth

P.U. Barnum

While Barnum’s American Museum was certainly a marvel for its time, I cannot help but be angered by the fact that movies such as The Greatest Showman serve to gentrify the racism found in his “exhibits” who would later play a key role in the success of his traveling circus. Of course, a showman must lie in order to garner the public’s attention, however, P.T. Barnum played on racial stereotypes and the public’s fears in order to draw an audience into his exhibits. His museum served as a prototype for what would later become The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus

Advertisement of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” brought to the public by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus

 

Annotated Bibliography: History of Ingredients Used In Tacos

Annotated Bibliography

 

“A Thumbnail History of Mexican Food.” Mexican Food: An Short History, www.backyardnature.net/m/food/foodhist.htm.

This article tries to give the reader a better idea of the origin of different Mexican ingredients. Most notably, beans and corn (in spite of the fact that they do not fulfill the requirements for protein synthesis separately) supply the Mexican diet with the nutrition needed in order for the body to function. Street food that is found in Mexico today, as well as the food supplied in the mercados, comes from the food the Aztecs as well as the Mayans ate. The Mexican palette has even been influenced by the French thanks to the short-lived reign of the Austrian Archduke Maximilian.

Darling, Juanita. “Culture : For Mexicans, Growing Corn Is a National Heritage : Seven Thousand Years of Evolution Have Yielded an Astonishing Variety. For This Nation, Maize Has Deep Symbolic Values.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 1992, articles.latimes.com/1992-02-18/news/wr-2329_1_national-heritage.

This article talks about the importance of corn in the Mexican culture. Not only is it vital for many recipes, but the product itself has become a part of the culture’s identity. I enjoy the fact that this ties into what I want to talk about in the project. Yes, my group will be discussing tacos, but I’d like to focus on the ingredients for my portion.

 

Martinez, Mely. “Mexican Beans from the Pot | Frijoles De La Olla | Mexico in My Kitchen.” Traditional Homestyle Mexican Food Recipes | Mexico In My Kitchen, Mely Martinez, 9 Feb. 2018, www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/mexican-beans-recipe.

While this is meant to give a step to step guide on how to make traditional frijoles de la olla, Mely gives a brief history of the ingredients that ties into the recipe itself. She describes the prehispanic times in Mexico in which meat was not a part of the everyday diet for most native.Similar to the mercado article, she mentions how corn and beans are complementary to one another, allowing for the body to have the nutrition necessary in order to function.

 

McCarthy, Chris. “History of Salsa Sauce- The Mexican Connection.” History Of Salsa Sauce – The Mexican Connection, The Yummy Food Guide, www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/snacks/dips_and_sauces/history_of_salsa_sauce_the_mexican_connection.html.

Salsa has Incan origins as well as Aztec and Mayan origins, contrary to popular belief that it was first seen in Spain. It was the Aztecs who began to add ground squash as well as chilli peppers in with the tomatoes. In 1571, Alonso de Molina coined the term, “salsa.”

 

Morton, Paula E. Tortillas: a Cultural History. University of New Mexico Press, 2014.

I have not yet been able to obtain this source, however, it gives an in-depth history of tortillas in the Mexican culture. According to the synopsis, it delves into antiquity, citing the Aztecs as well as the Mayans for the creation of these. Tortillas were buried with the dead, similar to the Egyptian’s rituals for the afterlife. The book also compares and contrasts how people eat tortillas now vs how they once did during ancient Mesoamerican times.

The Importance of Being Appealing

Above all else, a writer, regardless of their genre, must understand their audience. When you are creating a label it is important to remember that your audience is not a singular demographic. Your duty is to find a way to appeal to every age group, race, and gender. I find this to be especially challenging, however, it is not an unfeasible job. When I was a child I recall constantly going to visit the PBS Kids website every morning before I attended school. I would go to the library as early as I was able to in order to do this.

screenshot taken of the pbskids.org website on webarchives from 2001

I thought that I might revisit the site, given that it was once where I spent a majority of my weekday mornings. It surprises me little to see that it’s changed, but the changes that have been made are welcomed. I can hardly believe the difference the website has made over the course of one decade. Using webarchive I was able to compare what the website once was to what it has become. While there seem to only be screenshots of the front page, it is enough to remind me of what I once enjoyed about the website. 

As a child, I was fond of the PBS kids website. I found myself constantly clicking on the Cyberchase tab playing whatever minigame caught my attention first.

screenshot of the PBSkids.org homepage

In comparison to how the website was once modeled, it’s a dream come true. Initially, I found that there was too much action going on on the main page, however, this is not meant to appeal to adults. This website is meant to appeal to children. It does a fantastic job of keeping the attention of the viewer as well as never becoming tedious. The wheel on the page to scroll through the characters is reminiscent of the Viewmaster toy that I once played with in my adolescence. I have chosen a non-history related website because no matter the age, I feel that the PBS kids web designers have an understanding of what their audience finds appealing.

My question is as follows: how might I take what PBS kids has done and incorporate it into my own project?

A “Scorching” Review of The Lost Museum

Aesthetics and Organization + Content

I was immediately drawn to “The Lost Museum’s” website the moment I glanced at the title. Of all the names on the list, it was this one in particular that stood out, which is always a good start. Upon clicking the link to the website one will be drawn to a video that briefly summarizes the history behind the short-lived Barnum’s American Museum. The viewers are able to feel the exuberance in the narrator’s voice, making the video all the more engaging. That being said, I do not feel that the minimalistic look of this website is particularly appealing. Aesthetics aside, it seems to me that there is a disconnect between the theme of the website and the background. Because this website is dedicated to Barnum’s American Museum I would have enjoyed seeing a banner with a vintage picture of the museum prior to being consumed by the fire of 1865.

The Lost Museum’s home page

The website is well organized into the categories: home, about us, archive, and classroom. The “about us” tab offers credit to those who collaborated with the American Social History Project, a list of sponsors that support the website, as well as a list of awards that they have won. I am deeply appreciative that the website provides everyone contact information should one have any inquiries regarding the website.

Should one become curious and decide that they’d like to learn more about what the museum once had to offer, likewise there is a tab for that! The archive tab allows guests of the website the chance to search for documents stored in archives and even a look at past exhibitions in Barnum’s American Museum.

Finally, the Classroom tab on the left-hand corner of the website presents visitors with “resources and strategies” meant to aid in better understanding the information that one might come across when they are searching through the archives. The creator of this website clearly went above and beyond in order to organize each tab in an orderly fashion.

Sample article of one of the past exhibitions at Barnum's American Museum
A sample article of one of the past exhibitions at Barnum’s American Museum

 

The More You Know

While the loss of Barnum’s American Museum was considered tragic, it should be noted that the museum exploited deformities as well as popular misconceptions about race. One of the most prominent cases of exploitation in the short-lived museum’s history was William Henry Johnson. It is now believed that Johnson suffered from the medical disorder known as microcephaly. Barnum’s American Museum capitalized on the growing popularity of Darwinism by showcasing Johnson as one of their main exhibits to show that African’s were capable of evolving as a race.

Relevance

I feel that this website lacks an element that will truly engage people. That isn’t to say that it isn’t to say that this is an inferior website, merely that I would like to see an element that will draw even more visitors to it. The name alone was the sole reason why I choose to review this particular website without rubric, yet I feel that it was unable to live up to the name. In order for something to remain relevant in this day and age, there must be an interactive element. It can be argued that “Solving The Mystery” (that can be found near the bottom of the video to the right-hand corner) solves that, however, I do not feel that everyone will be keen on signing up for a website just to access this feature.

This is an example of what the 3D mystery game has to offer in order to view this page you must create an account

 

Functionality and Accessibility

The website is not overly complicated, save for the archives tab. The saving grace is the Classroom tab that supplies those who visit the website with a tool to better understand the information given in the archive tab. The search engine feels dated, however, it does its job well and I was able to click on each link without a single malfunction.

 

The Website’s Final Scores

Aesthetics: 2/10

Organization: 9/10

Content: 8/10

Relevance: 4/10

Functionality and Accessibility: 9/10

 

This website has the potential to be very interesting, considering the rich (but short) history of the museum, however, I feel that the design holds it back from achieving true greatness. I would recommend this website to history aficionados as of now, but not to someone who does not care for the subject. Otherwise, it falls flat of my expectations. That isn’t to say that my opinion should impact anyone from visiting this interesting website because it has a great deal to offer despite its shortcomings. 

A Not So Bewitching Website

The primary piece of the Salem Witch Museum’s website that drew my attention was the video located towards the bottom. While the image used for the screen still is pedestrian at best, the video itself was packed with insightful information regarding the museum. There are very few introduction videos that allude to a museum’s accessibility (in my experience). Admittedly, the woman’s monotone voice was uninviting and immediately made what excitement that I had for the exhibit vanish. Luckily, the saving grace of this website lies in the staff’s retellings of the events that took place before the trials as well as Sarah Goode’s background. I would change the header font of the website to be something befitting of the Salem Witch Trials. It was a frightening event in history and is deserving of a font that does not feel inappropriate for the events that transpired. Regardless of the fact that the museum is no doubt trying to appeal to a general audience, I feel that there were numerous other fonts to choose from.

Salem Witch Museum website header

 

I would have gone with a more elegant version of the font from CF Nightmare, which can be found on dafont.com.Certainly museums, understandably, have a lower budget than other due to attendance as well as funding. What baffles me is that someone thought for a moment that the picture located on the 7th tab of the front page belonged with the other images. I showed a group of people that I was sitting with the image and they all agreed that having the bus placed front and center in a picture that is meant to showcase the museum is complete and utter nonsense. It has no place amongst the other pictures. What I will commend the team that created this website on is the accessibility. It was not tasking to navigate through the pages despite the aesthetic issues. In fact, if The Trials tab was used as the front page as opposed to the mess that is the Home page, I feel that I would have been drawn in from the very beginning.

Salem Witch Museum slideshow picture

 

The website is far from perfect, but it serves its purpose well and in more informative than I would have thought it to be. The viewer can find the price of admission as well as the hours on the visit tab, as it ought to be, and it even offers a link to purchase memorabilia from the museum shop on the same page. Whoever created this website certainly has the passion for the museum, but it is clear that they are hardly knowledgeable in creating a website. I feel that the Salem Witch Museum would be interesting to visit one day, but my interest stems from enjoying history more so than my like or dislike of this website. What would make this more enticing would be having more interactive elements such as games, maps, or even sound files of reenactments. Overall I remain unimpressed by the museum’s website, but as I aforementioned, I understand that a museum is not always given an ideal budget. I enjoy the website for what it is, but I feel that certain elements were offputting (such as the picture of the children in the gift shop or even the bus in front of the museum), but it is not unsalvagable. 

Explorations

Simplistic in nature (aesthetically), decent navigation, aesthetically pleasing to the eye because it is not an overly complex design. Upon clicking the first article that drew our attention on the dashboard, John came across an interesting discovery, the website offers a glimpse into the past by pinpointing the location of the article’s topic on Google Maps. While we feel that the logo has a minimalist feel to it, it doesn’t detract from the widget board beneath it. Grayson noted that the audio files used in “Why is The Mall Used As A Concert Space,” adds a more diverse use of multimedia and in addition, he claims that it “draws the viewer in.” Because this website is incredibly user-friendly we feel (as a group) that the public will, in turn, feel more comfortable using this website.

Critiques

  • We would like to see when the project was last edited.
  • We would also like for the pictures to be larger as opposed to the viewing having to click on it.
  • The previous comment is not a drawback, given that in clicking on the picture it gives more concise details on said pictures.
  • Who were the authors? (Specific names, not just “Project Team”)
  • A less simplistic header.
  • A wider variety of colors for the widgets.
GraysonG
Member of Group 3
John Hernandez
Member of Group 3
MadelineO
Member of Group 3

Conservateur

The word curator, which means to care for, is derived from the Latin word cūrāre. The duties of a curator include, but are not limited to collecting data for their research, documenting said data and research, gathering pieces for an exhibition, as well as helping to create the display(s) for the tour. While to my knowledge a single person cannot be found responsible for creating the aforementioned vocation, in particular, one of the earliest know curators was Spencer Fullerton Baird. In 1850 he was made the first curator at the National Museum at the Smithsonian, and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

‘The British Museum: the Etruscan Room, with visitors.’ Wellcome Library, CC BY-NC.

 

How Do I Become A Curator?

The minimum requirements for becoming a museum curator include having a Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in either history, art, museum studies, and archaeology (related fields may apply), vocational qualifications, (Sayer 44), project management experience, database management, planning experience, research experience, being skilled in communicating with others, being able to work as a team, and an interest/having prior knowledge about said project (Sayer 44). Of course, this is merely giving a handful of examples as to what employers are looking for. The most important I’ve saved for last.

 

Employers do not necessarily require 4-5 years of experience, but it is recommended. Recently I attended a weekend retreat for the psychology department at my university, it was there that I discovered that without experience in the field my degree would ultimately be of little use in being accepted into a graduate program. It is true, GRE scores and one’s GPA plays a part in getting past the first eliminations, however, what colleges search for after they have decided whose resumes they will consider,  they turn to experience (be it in research or simply in volunteering). What sets apart the candidates now and will play a crucial role in their acceptance or rejection is essentially the same as it would be if you were searching for a job. I choose to focus on this because I understand that becoming a curator is not something that one may simply opt to become overnight. Perhaps experience is not a necessity, but it certainly helps when there are more seasoned candidates that you are competing with for a job as a curator.

 

A Curator’s Duties

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the duties of a curator are far more intricate than I previously believed. The curator of the Asian Arts & Design Powerhouse Museum gave an interesting insight as to what her everyday job is like. She begins her day by visiting her exhibition followed by having a discussion with the assistant curator. Afterwards, she answers her messages (public inquiries) and must then ensure that the music being played at the exhibition is not copyrighted. What follows is her making calls to the owners of the artifacts found at the exhibition (asking for extended time and such) and debating what ought to be used during her marketing campaign. What one should take from this article is that being a curator is far more than doing research and creating an exhibit.

 

‘The British Museum: the Egyptian Room, with visitors’, Wellcome Library, CC BY-NC.

 

Is It That Simple?

In order for curators like Min-Jung Kim to be able to draw the attention of the public to her exhibit, she must understand not only the political climate but the public around her. Attendance is crucial, therefore it is the people who dictate what is to be shown as opposed to said exhibit being solely chosen based upon what the curator is interested in. This is how I would say that being a curator ties into my definition of what public history is: public history is taking the communities history and presenting it back to them.

 

Helpful Job Locators

I’ve come across two very helpful websites in locating available jobs in the field, one seemed to be specifically for those in search of a job working as a curator while the other was a general job search engine. The first, which I found to be incredibly helpful, was museumcuratorjobs.com. The second, and more general job locator that I came across aided me when I was searching for a job in retail a few years ago. The first link that I have given is certainly the more helpful of the two, however, anyone is free to use either or in their quest to find a job as a museum curator.