From the President

Vol. XXII No. 2 - SUMMER 2011

By: Robert Remer

Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile

I was reminded of the old commercial that said, “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile,” when the now defunct carmaker came out with some new models to appeal to a broader and, perhaps, younger audience, to counter its image as a staid and steady brand. Well that was many years ago, and the ad campaign worked for quite a while until the global economy dealt a blow to many car manufacturers in the last decade or so.

That struck me when I recently said, “…we are not your father’s historical society…” to describe how the Edgewater Historical Society is trying to reach out to a broader, and yes, perhaps, younger audience. That also may also characterize how many people view historical societies – that they are staid, steady and, perhaps, boring to a younger and hipper society. That need not be as we try to become more relevant to the community with new exhibits and programs; also, people can learn that history, in and of itself, can be very interesting and germane to their lives. That is our challenge as your local historical society.

Our recently closed and successful exhibit on the newly designated Andersonville Historic District was a wonderful example of how, what otherwise might have been considered the prosaic past (your father’s Oldsmobile) can become germane and interesting to a broader and younger audience. Our thanks go out to Thom Greene, Kathy Gemperle, LeRoy Blommaert and Morry Matson for making the exhibit so interesting and successful.

We are also especially proud of our recently opened exhibit: Edgewater Pride: From Oppression to Expression, that celebrates and chronicles Edgewater’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities. There is a tremendous amount of important history right here in Edgewater, as our own LGBT community has been in the forefront of efforts to achieve expanded human rights for all Chicagoans. This has also not been the type of exhibit one might expect from a staid and steady historical society (not your father’s Oldsmobile?). As we reach out to more members of our community, we realize how important everyone’s histories are to the total community. If you haven’t already been, you should make an effort to see the exhibit, which will open through early October.

We are very grateful to our Vice President, Will Rye, who chaired the Edgewater Pride committee that put together this great exhibit. We are also especially grateful to Karen Sendziak of Gerber Hart Library, who provided us with a lot of material for the exhibit. Special thanks also to Dan Paterno, who developed the stunning logo and graphics for the exhibit. Kathy Gemperle and her curatorial team (including Morry Matson, Dorothy Nygren, Marty Stewart and others) did yeoman’s work getting up this very colorful and informative and important exhibit.

As we move forward, your EHS board will continue to work to make your museum and historical society interesting and relevant. Unlike Oldsmobile, we don’t have to “reinvent ourselves” by becoming something we aren’t, but will do our job by reaching out to more drivers and passengers, so that the entire community will want to join our journey. And we plan to be here longer than Oldsmobile.