You may recall about two years ago that I got very frustrated with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for not having anywhere near adequate facilities available for disabled people to park and be able to attend the events that we museum members were entitled to. The end result of that trip was missing the lecture, dropping out of the museum, and slowly winding my way back home through old neighborhoods and accidentally discovering a wonderful Jewish bakery and their chocolate Bombe’ cupcakes. I still savor those cupcakes in my daydreams…. but I haven’t made it back there since! Well, there is always tomorrow!
Masochist that I am, I was, as a guest of others, back at the Museum this past weekend to attend a lecture by Jack Horner—dinosaur hunter extraordinaire—and his colleagues expounding on head crests, frills, bumps, horns and accoutrements of duckbilled dinosaurs, what they were made of, and postulating what they were used for. OK, I realize that I just lost half my readers with that sentence. Let me digress and get back to the real world.
My daughter and her husband, both paleontologists, asked me if I would like to go to a lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I am a “closet paleontologist”. That is; I started out in that field in college in 1964; ten years and the Viet Nam War later, ended up in psychology. I’m still very interested in dinosaurs and primordial animals. If I could go back and start over…………… Yeah,……….. so the lecture featured Jack Horner, one of the most famous Dinosaur authorities of our times. This was in conjunction with “Dinosaur Days” at the museum wherein hundreds of children and their families attended and made wooden dinosaurs, got their faces painted, got pictures taken with the various dinosaurs, and generally got to run riot around the museum while subliminally taking in all the natural wonders. This is all well and good, and exactly how I got my children interested in paleontology. What was even better was that I didn’t have to drive into Cleveland and negotiate the Wade Oval traffic mess and try to find a non-existent disabled parking place. The heavily over crowded, virtually impossible to navigate confluence of three famous museums, Severance Hall, the Veterans Hospital, a Music School, and the Botanical Gardens are a weekend traffic nightmare.
My kids dropped me and my little electric scooter off at the door and I waited patiently while they were forced to park a quarter mile away at the Art Museums’ high rise parking deck to the tune of $11 ( I take the electric scooter to museums because of extended walking and standing which is very hard on my legs.)
Now, what is wrong with this picture? Here we have the greatest concentration of cultural facilities Cleveland has to offer and there is almost no place to park your car. Even Disneyland has remote parking facilities where they bus you to the gate on an every ten minute basis for God’s sake! (Oh, there’s an idea!) Our museums beg you, implore you, to come down and visit them, but there are few places to park your car. “We cater to the handicapped”, they say, but there is no place for us handicapped people to park our handicapped vehicle. News flash….here’s another idea. Maybe, instead of constantly adding on wings to the various museums they should get together and add on a central high rise parking facility on and under the green central to the museums so that people could actually attend the events? And maybe the extremely minimal parking available close to the museum’s doors could be reserved for….handicapped people? Just an idea!! Currently there is no way I could, by myself, attend any event. Might I expect a companion to drop me off and go in search of a parking spot? Particularly at night this is, shall we say, not the safest of areas. It is a dangerous area at night. I should expect a female companion to walk a quarter mile at night in an unsafe area to retrieve a car? I don’t think so.
Now, at the lecture we by chance had the unexpected opportunity to sit and chat with a lovely lady named Janet Neary who, it turns out, happens to be a Museum Trustee. As we talked it became clear that she was somewhat dismayed at the minimal attendance at the dinosaur lectures and we chatted about whether or not it might be wiser to separate in time and space the kid’s events from the adult lectures. And perhaps they needed to institute much more effective advertising of the world famous dinosaur paleontologists. Oh, the lectures were announced in the Plain Dealer but no mention was made of whom the lecturers would be. Now this is akin to, say, advertising that there would be a lecture on religion, and forgetting to mention that incidentally it would be by the Pope. Somebody definitely missed the target in advertising this event!! Ms. Neary noted my electric scooter and we then discussed the parking fiasco and more particularly the lack of handicapped parking facilities.
I must say that the lectures were delightful. They featured Mark Goodwin from UC Berkeley, a paleontologist and former student of Jack Horner. He has been studying the aforementioned top knots and frills of duckbilled dinosaurs. And of course the second lecture was by Jack Horner himself. Now, I haven’t seen Jack in about 15-20 years in person. Not that I know him personally—I do not– but I have listened to him talk on several occasions, have read his books, been to his university workshop, and did take my son some 25 years ago to his egg mountain dinosaur camp in Montana. Jack is an exciting speaker and one of the paleontologists that has profoundly changed our modern view on dinosaurs.
Jack has put on a few years, since I last saw him. But he is still an exciting speaker who can command the audience’s attention and keep them riveted. Twenty-five years ago Jack postulated that birds are really living dinosaurs, dinosaurs were endothermic (warm blooded) and that dinosaurs are much more related to birds than reptiles. This shook the dinosaur world to its core. But since then our understanding of dinosaurs has been markedly redefined largely due to his influence. He is a very important cog in the wheel of dinosaur paleontology. I do believe that if academia had been actually aware that Jack Horner was in town, they would have filled up the auditorium. Of course I don’t know where they would have parked!
What to do about continuing my museum membership? I’m not happy about the situation. It is not their fault that I can’t walk much anymore. But the limited accessibility due to the lack of parking certainly puts a crimp in the numbers of people visiting the museums and my participation in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Do you fish, hunt, trap, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, P.O. Box 331 Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.