It has been almost three months since we completed our autumn road trip, but I have more memories and stories to share. We pick up on October 22, having left the creature comforts of the Utah home of my brother and his wife (see post here). Our initial destination? The Museum of Clean, Pocatello, Idaho. Say what? A museum about cleaning? I had the same reaction when I first saw it listed on TripAdvisor. As I read further, I learned the museum actually presents many dimensions of clean through art, displays, exhibits, print and participation. Clean dominates the value of everything that affects life - like clean air, clean water, clean language, clean beds, floors, teeth, arteries - the list goes on! It is not a cleaning museum, it is a museum OF clean. My curiosity was piqued; I had to see it for myself!
We were greeted by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable docent. He explained that the museum had been created by Don Aslett, founder of Varsity Contractors, a cleaning company. He described the layout of the 74,000 square-foot facility, and I could sense straightaway that this is not your average museum -- I anticipated that we would be thoroughly entertained, and I was not disappointed. For example, one display told the story of Bill Zickgraf, who worked for Don as an outhouse cleaner at Sun Valley Ski Resort. Despite the fact that he did know how to ski, Bill came on board after Don went through 14 skiing toilet scrubbers. As he learned to ski the hard way, Bill's attitude and pride in his job soon made him the most famous person on the mountain. Indeed, the only rivals for prestige and status were the square-jawed heroes in the Ski Patrol, with their bright red jackets sporting the big emblem of two crossed skis. So, Bill had a coat especially made, complete with an outhouse silhouette and "Bowl Patrol" proudly emblazoned across his back. I loved this story about attitude and work ethic, especially since it takes place at a ski resort!
Many of the exhibits brought back memories of products that my parents had used, or advertising campaigns from my youth. Ty-D-Bol, an American brand of toilet cleaner, was introduced in 1958. The company is best known for its nautical spokesperson, the Ty-D-Bol Man, who piloted a toilet tank-sized boat in TV commercials from 1968 to 1984. (The display also pointed out that Don turned down the opportunity to be the Ty-D-Bol Man because he could not vouch for the effectiveness of the product!) Do you remember the commercials?
In the early 1950's, wooden wash tubs were replaced by metal tubs, and people started using them as a more efficient way to take family baths. Every Saturday night, the wash tub was placed on the floor in the kitchen near the stove, and filled with hot water from a tea kettle. Parents, then kids (in order of age) were bathed. This is where the phrase "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" comes from. I don't recall taking a bath in a metal tub, but I do remember Saturday night baths as the norm when I was small.
(The International Fiberglass Company made other giants, including the 17-foot Uniroyal Gal. The Gals are very rare - only 14 are known to exist. Coincidentally, one of them is in nearby Blackfoot, Idaho, at Martha's Cafe. We stopped to see her after we left the Museum of Clean.)
Personally, I preferred the humor and the idiosyncrasies. So, I will leave you with three final curiosities.
As you may have gathered from my dissertation, I was entranced with this museum. If you ever find yourself within driving distance of Pocatello, Idaho, you MUST visit!