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Past Adventures

Faces of Death in Houston, TX - 2006

The sights include :   The UTMB's Gross Anatomy Lab, (Ok, so it's on Galveston Island); The Body World 3 Exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Holocaust Museum of Houston and the National Funeral Museum.

Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

           I hope you enjoyed my term paper on the Indian Rock Art of Paint Rock, TX and a few for bat emergences.  Although I did take a road trip between the Summer and Fall Semester of 2006, I'll save that story for next time.  Next month is Halloween, so I thought I would share some near death adventures with you.  No, no, it has nothing to do with the "Faces of Death" movies from the late 70's of early 80's.  But that of a different nature of the local area museums and exhibitions that concern death.  Some of these Houston museums and exhibitions are quite sensitive in nature.  Therefore, out of respect, I will refrain from the funnies on a certain story.  And yes once again, some of the following material was written for past class assignments/extracurricular work and reformatted and edited for publication for this site. 

          There are quite a few images, so please allow time for everything to load properly.  So, we will begin with the Gross Anatomy Lab and a quick tour of UTMB at Galveston, TX.

Star Date : 03/14/2006  - The ACC H.A.M.S. Tour of UTMB

          I'm a charter member of the Alvin College's, H.A.M.S., Health and Medical Society.  Its a student organization which works to exposes students to the varied careers in the Health industry, the Medical and Health schools providing the education and training for those careers and  of  coarse opportunities to obtain the necessary service/volunteer hours needed as part of the prerequisites for entering the health and medical schools and colleges.  

          So, I'll start off, by presenting a page I did for the organization's website on our trip to the UTMB facilities at Galveston.  Bear in mind that I will be leading up to the Gross Anatomy Lab.  Thus the reason for the title to this page. 

           By the way :  Click on the image for a larger image.....

Without any further adieu, let's start the tour :

          On March 14, 2006; the H.A.M.S. organization toured the Radiography, Nursing and Medical schools at UTMB, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston,

An Ariel View of UTMB at Galveston.

TX.  One special treat for us was the morbid, but interesting, Gross Anatomy Lab.  I found this quite interesting since I was taking Anatomy & Physiology II at the time.

          However, a word of warning for those with weak stomachs, the photos can be quite disturbing if you are not used to seeing such subject matter.

            So, let's continue with the tour.....

          The attending students of our tour were Rebeka Hartley, Lauren Britt, Fernando Lugo, Francis Kiefel, Nathan Perkins and the club sponsor Gwendolyn Burgess. 

          Our guide for the tour on campus was Mr. Steven Stone

           We began our tour with the Ashbel Smith building , also affectionately referred to as Old Red as shown to the right.

          The building is actually quite historic.

Ole Red.

It is one of the buildings that actually survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

 

The Father's of Medicine.

          Once inside, the hallway was flanked by carvings of the fathers of medicine dating from the ancient times of Hippocrates and Galen, to the medical scientists of the twentieth century who have made great contributions to medical science of today. 

This was a quite inspiring exhibit for those interested in medical careers.

          The next stop was the Amphitheater, which at one time was actual used to teach medicine.  Today, it is now used as a lecture hall. Please See the photo to the right :

          Notice how it looks like one of those old medical lecture halls seen is some of those old horror movies of the past.  Imagine Dr. Frankenstein giving a lecture on body reanimation.

          Actually, it is now used for those lunch-time lectures for current and new topics in medical science.

The Medical Lecture Hall at Ole' Red.

Yes, we are now getting closer to our "Faces of Death" , part of the tour ......

UTMB's Gross Anatomy Lab.

          On the other side of the lecture hall, we entered a short hallway and found ourselves in the middle of UTMB's Gross Anatomy lab as pictured to the left.

          We were rather fortunate that class was not in session for this day.

          In addition to being the human dissection lab, the room also housed quite a collection of human anatomy

          Follow the links below to view a possible destination of your physical body's after-life :

Preserved Body Parts, Dissected Boy, Dissected Head 1,

Dissected Head 2, Dissected Leg, Neck Dissection,

Preserved Fetus', Sagittal Section of a Head,

Skull Bones and the Brain.

          The next stop was UTMB's school of Nursing as shown to the right  :

          The show case of the nursing school was its nursing simulation lab in which computerized dummies simulated various signs and symptoms for the nursing students to react to. 

          The school even had patient dummies who simulated pregnancies and the complications which could arise.  The lab obviously gives students a chance to gain

UTMB's School of Nursing.

 simulated experience here, before killing someone during their clinical rotations.

Robot Patient.

Pregnant Robot Patient.

          It should be note that even robot babies, are also used here.

A CAT Scan Image.

          Next on the tour was the Radiological Center and Nuclear Medicine School which is responsible for medical imaging

          By the way, if you are a Physicist having trouble in finding employment, then this field is for you.

          With this technology, one can literally follow the coarse of the airways from the trachea through the main, secondary and tertiary branches of the bronchi.

          When watching the screen of the computer monitor , one actually felt like

those scientists in that movie, "Fantastic Voyage", staring that sexy Raquel Welch from the late 1960's.

          H.A.M.S.'s was also shown the construction of the new Class IV Infectious Disease Center.  See the photo to the right. 

          This will be one of two facilities in the United States in which highly dangerous diseases will be studied under very controlled conditions. 

           Safety was an issue, due to Galveston being an island and prone to hurricanes.  However, we were reassured that all protocols would be in place of such a disastrous event.  This includes the immediate destruction of the microprobes, bacteria and virus's being studied.  Just think, months and years of work could be lost if such a dangerous hurricane hits the island. 

Construction of the new Class IV Infectious Disease Center.

          Help me out, where's the logic in this?  It's your tax dollars at work again.

UTMB's Prison Hospital.

          Another building of prominence was the hospital for the Texas inmate population.  UTMB is under contract for all convict patient care of those prison facilities east of I-35.  The prisons on the west side of I-35 have their medical contracts with Texas Tech University    

          Although the building looks like a normal hospital from the outside, we were

rest assured that there were bars behind those windows. See the above and to the left photo.

          Well, our tour here was over.  A special thanks goes out to both our tour guide Mr. Steve Stone and our Organizational advisor Gwendolyn Burgess.

          We were able to take this quick group photo before hitting the gift shop.  Front row : Gwendolyn Burgess, Francis Kiefel, Middle Row : Rebeka Hartley, Back Row : Nathan Perkins, Lauren Britt and Fernando Lugo. 

          At the gift shop :

 

The ACC H.A.M.S.'s students and their advisor.

I picked up a new back, which I really needed from throwing mine out again.

Rebeka picked up some Baby Dolls.

So did Lauren.

Patrick had trouble deciding with all those goodies in the cabinet to choose from.

          It was now lunch time and we found a good restaurant on the island to eat at.  I finally made it home a few hours later.  For more information about the school and making arrangements for a visit, please see UTMB's website below :

          One down, three more to go.  Let's continue.....

Star Date : 07/22/2006 - The Body World 3 Exhibition

          Our professors in our Anatomy and Physiology classes and also in our Biology classes, ranted and raved, over the Body World 3 exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  I finally was able to attend, but I was not allowed to take any photos of the exhibits.  However, I did find some photos off the Internet at various sites to show what was presented to the public.

          I gassed up the ole' space ship and I arrive very early. Unfortunately, so did everyone else.  I therefore had to wait till the 12:45 pm showing.  So, I burned some time by window shopping in the different gift stores and by checking out my favorite dinosaur and some fossil exhibits.

Click on the photos for a larger image......

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          Come to think about it,  all these animals are dead and are now resting in peace in Houston, TX.  Well, at least they are in keeping with the theme of this webpage.  Finally, 12:45 pm and time to enter .  We then enter the exhibit where we learn more about da man Gunther and his pioneering work in turning humans into Revell plastic models of the body.

Dr. Gunther Von Hagens and Friend.

          Throughout the ages, scholars and students have strived to understand how our bodies function through the exploration of real human specimens. The revolutionary process of Plastination, invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, allows human specimens to be presented in completely new and enlightening way. Donors who bequeathed during their lifetime that their bodies should be used for the education of lay people have made this exhibit possible.  Specimens on display in BODY WORLD 3 uniquely stem from the Institute for Plastination’s body donation program.

          Again, this is what we saw, however, I had to steal most of the following photos off of the Internet :

Twenty Week Old Fetus

The Arterial System.

The Basketball Player.

The Body World 3 Poster.

The Digestive System.

A diseased Brain.

An Expanded View of the Human Body.

Frontal Planes of the Body.

Horse and Rider.

Internal Body Parts.

On Guard.

Playing Chess.

Playing Chess 2.

Pregnant Woman 1.

Pregnant Woman 2.

Sagittal - Front View.

Sagittal - Side View.

Surfing the Internet.

The Jumping Dancer.

The Nervous System.

The Skateboarder.

The Spear Thrower.

The Thinker.

The Thinker No. 2.

Where's My Skin?

Fetus with Macrocephaly.

          The above photos represents just a few of over the 200 specimens on exhibit.  Ok, so now you ask, How can I donate my body to Body World and be immortalized forever?  Well, just click on the link below :

Click Here to Donate Your Body to Gunther

          My last comment.  I'm glad everyone was interested enough to come on out and experience the exhibit.  But please, not all at once.  The crowds were ridiculous.  I thought I was at some rock-n-roll concert and it made the exhibit less enjoyable.  My advice is not to go on a Saturday, but make it on a weekday evening.

          Well, let's move on.  Hold it!  This just in, from Neal Immega, of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society :

  -----Original Message-----

From: Immega [mailto:n_immega@swbell.net]

Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 7:46 PM

To: HGMS news

Subject: HGMS: temp help wanted at HMNS

     FYI, The science museum has lost all the temp people who are going back to school and they need people until the end of the exhibit.

                                                                                              Neal

EXTRA WORK AVAILABLE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 4

     If you know of friends/family who may be interested in working short term/temporary work, the Visitor Services department is looking for people to take tickets and greet the public until the Body Worlds 3 Exhibition closes on September 4, 2006. Work hours are flexible between 9am and 11pm, with shifts available 7 days a week starting August 12. Pay is $7.50 per hour. If you are interested, please contact Melissa Gonzalez at 713-639-4705.

 

          Hum, maybe I can get a job there and get some real pictures when no one is looking!  Yea right, like I really have time for that right now.  However, for more information, please see the websites listed below :

And....................

          Ok. now let's really move on .....................

The Houston Holocaust Museum :

          After my tour of Body World 3, I remembered that Dr. Again, my Cultural Psychology professor, would give us two extra points for a write up of the museum/memorial.  The following is the write-up that I submitted.  Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take photos.  However, most of the huge, blown-up photo images of the exhibits were all easily found from researching the Internet.  Out of respect, I have refrained from embedding my funnies in this part of the story.

Introduction :

          The Houston Holocaust Museum is a walk through memorial, which depicts the events that lead to the Holocaust, the tragedies which occurred during that time period, the aftermath of the Jewish people.  At the end of it’s path, the question is asked, “Did we learn anything from it”?

Figure 1. The Houston Holocaust Museum.

The museum is  located a few blocks away from the Houston Museum of Natural Science and is well worth the walk if ever in the area checking out the latest exhibits.  But once there, one is, let’s say a little taken back

          The museum has an interesting architecture of a normal rectangular block with a silo structure connected to it.

  The area around the silo is blocked off by a heavy duty wire and metal post fence.  This would be of coarse, reminiscent of the standard death camp architecture, with a barbed wire fence surrounding the compound and perhaps a chimney for the crematory?  See Figure 1.  But that’s not all, from the fence to the silo, exist an uphill rampart divided into many squares.  Each square records every Jewish culture in every European country that was decimated by the Nazi regime during World War II.  This was just a hint for what was to follow.

Upon entering the facility, a distinct quietness was in order for this is easily perceived as a monument for a very solemn place.   A forewarning, out of solemn respect for what this place means and memorializes, we were informed that flash photography was not allowed.  Nonetheless, we were lucky enough to time out visit just right for the next tour which was lead by Lynn Gordon.   We could not have asked for a better tour guide.  Lynn’s family was part of the Holocaust experience and is proud to share her personal own insights while hosting the tour.  The following is really Lynn’s interpretation of the exhibits and enlarged photos with her personal insights.  As a decedent of some of the Holocaust survivors, I was impressed by her impartiality of the issues which led to the Holocaust and her insights which would later be revealed towards the end of the tour.

In the Beginning :

The path we took began with a series of photos of just ordinary Jews, portraying their ordinary lives among themselves and their non-Jewish neighbors and co-workers.   See Figure 2.

Although the Jews had settled in most parts of the western world, they highly maintained and held onto their culture beliefs while also assimilating those customs observed in the lands they had settled in. 

          However, they were always discriminated against due to their religious culture.  This is referred to as anti-Semitism. 

Figure 2. They’re Just Like Us.

 Interesting enough, they held occupational positions in the civil service and other government positions, banking, the industrial trades, science and engineering.  From viewing the various pre-WWII photos on display, one could not tell a Jew from the non-Jews on the time period.

The tour and of coarse the super sized photos moved onto the 1930’s.   Although anti-Semitism was nothing new, it began in this time period with an intensity as never before seen since the inquisitions from hundreds of years earlier and the political, social and economic instabilities of the 1930’s were used against them beginning with the Nazi Party.

Lynn obviously knew her history of the Great Depression and how it affected the German people in the early 1930.  In general, the Germans were a defeated people after WWI, who were expected to pay a great amount of restitution to the allies.  Due to the economic times, that was of coarse money that didn’t really exist.  The printing of more money to cover the cost of restitution only added to the increase in inflation.  Many of the Germans became poor and stood in bread and soup lines.  The economics and destitution of the German people were the seeds which led to the power of the Nazi regime.  “Just who do you think was providing the bread and soup?”, asks Ms. Gordon.   Bear in mind that during this time, Germany  had a freely elected democratic government.

During the early 1930’s, Hitler and his small ragtag Nazi party tried to overthrow the government and failed.  While in prison, Hitler wrote his infamous book, ”Mien Kopf”, which was his plan to save Germany from its poor economic status and transform her into a glorious state.

Upon release from prison, Hitler began his crusade again, unfortunately, this time he was successful by playing by the rules of a democratic nation and their election process.  By January, 1933, Hitler and his Nazi party gained only 37% of the parliamentary seats.  This was due in part, to the other numerous political parties that had

Figure 3. Hitler Accepting the German Chancellor Position from then German president, Paul Von Hindenburg.

existed, thus minimizing their own elected majority.  Think of it as the Ross Perot Factor of the 1910 U.S. presidential election.  Though not a majority, this was enough for Hitler to become the new German Chancellor and officially received his title by Paul Von Hindenburg, the president of Germany.    See Figure 3.  Within one month, the German Parliament building was burned and Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to sign an emergency decree. This authorized Hitler to suspend all civil rights and arrest and execute any suspicious person.

The Persecution Begins :

           Lynn likes to ask questions from her audience and at this point in the tour, she asked the group who we thought were the first persons persecuted after the Nazis came into power.  Of coarse we all stated the Jewish people.  Wrong!  Hitler and the Nazi’s first order of business was the complete removal and annihilation of all political parties which could still oppose their party and authority.  The Nazis began their persecution with the Communist party leaders and their members by acts of humiliation and chasing them out of the towns from wherever they could be found.  Of coarse one major tool in the Nazi toolbox was that of murder.  This ensured that all communist party members were eliminated for good.    Eventually, all other political party leaders and their members were rounded up and disposed of in the same way.  It’s quite obvious that these heinous acts gave Sadam Hussein the same ideas on how to remove his political opponents when he came to power.

Next on the persecution agenda was anything contrary to the ideals and philosophies of the Nazi regime and replace them with their own.  Thus the infamous book burning acts are illustrated in life-size photos on the wall and in Figure 4.

Books and writings on the “burn list” included such famous works of Plato and Shakespeare.    Books by American authors were also on the list such as Earnest Hemingway, Jack London and Upton Sinclair.  Original copies of such works during the 1930’s are on displayed, as reminders that such free thought had to be eliminated by the Nazis and replaced with such works that promote the Nazi idealisms,  and anti-Semitic values which enabled the young German children to assimilate into the new Nazi era of life and culture.

Figure 4. Book Burning by the Nazi Party.

Mrs. Gordon reminded us that the Nazi’s did not invent the anti-Semitism movement.  It existed long before the Nazi party was on the radar screen.  However, the Nazis upped the scale on what they could get away with.  First, the Nazis tried to drive the Jews out of Germany.   To the Nazis, the Jews did not live up to the requirements a pure Germanic race which had Nordic roots.  However, did we not began our tour with photos of the Jewish people resembling us and anyone one else?  Therefore, the Jews were used as scapegoats to be blamed for all of Germany’s problems.  The German Jews fell into the same trap as did the Gypsies, the homosexuals and the physical and mentally handicapped.

The Methods of Persecution :   

Figure 5. The Boycott of Jewish Shops and Businesses.

          Lynn then walked us through a series of enlarged photos depicting the beginnings of “state” supported persecution.  The initial goal was to drive the Jews out of Germany.

          The initial actions included the boycott of Jewish businesses as seen in Figure 5.This included slogans written in both German and English.  Therefore, the Nazi’s actually did want the world to know what they were up to. 

Next, came the ban of Jews holding any type of civil servant employment in the government.  This included the occupations of teachers, lawyers, scientists and many others. Those Jews who saw the writing on the wall and had the means to do so, soon fled to other parts of Europe, the Americas and to many other parts of the world. 

           Those who could not leave on their own were forced to pursue humiliating jobs such as scrubbing the city sidewalks.  Additionally, Jews were to wear special armbands denoting their race as seen in Figure 6.

          At the time, the Germans were one of the most technically and scientifically  advanced people.  Heinriech Himmler, the leading Nazi leader in charge of the Jewish persecution, went through great scientific lengths to find biological attributes in identifying the Jews.  No attributes could ever be found, such as the shape of the nose or the size of one’s skull.  So, the young German school children were given genealogical assignments to  the “Intelligence” needed to identify those for future persecution in their operations to rid Germany of the Nazi's undesirables.

Figure 6. German Jews Identifying themselves with the Yellow Star of David.

Our tour stopped temporality again at the “Night of Glass” exhibit.  The Nazis were obviously an impatient people.  Finally, when all attempts failed to drive the remaining Jews out of Germany, the “Night of Glass” occurred.  On November 93,

Figure 7. The Morning After the “Night of Glass”.

1938, the henchmen of the Nazi party burned down and destroyed every single  Synagogue, Jewish business and Jewish home in one night as illustrated in Figure 7.  The next morning, broken glass and other destroyed property littered the streets.  Thus, theorigin of the name, “Night of Glass”.  Enlarged photos of this event and newspaper accounts are on displayed here.  Bear in mind, that those taking the photos, were the Nazis themselves.  To add further injury to insult, the Jews were forced to pay for the cleanup.  Afterwards, the German Jews were then rounded up and placed in work camps. 

A small note should be recognized here.  In , 1938, the world super powers of the time and a few smaller countries, met to see what could be done to help the Jews in Germany.  Basically, there was a call to increase immigration quotas for the Jews.  Not one of the so-called super powers of the time, including the United States, took any special actions to increase immigration limits for the German Jews.  Interestingly however, the small little country of the Dominican Republic, bear in mind that it’s just a small Caribbean island, did increase its immigration quotas up to 5,000 new immigrants.  Unfortunately, this action or lack of action, gave Hitler and the Nazi party the signal that they can do whatever they want with the Jewish people and not have to worry about retribution from foreign countries and governments.

Work Will Set You Free :

The Jews who were rounded up, were told they could only bring one suitcase of belongings.  Therefore, one would suspect that only the most valuable processions were stored in each case.  The horror did not start in work camps; it began in the box cars. 

Each car was filled beyond its limit.  The summer heat and the winter cold killed at least 25% of all prisoners before they even reached their destination as illustrated in Figure 8

          Once the Jew entered a work camp, the men and women were separated, their belongs were taken away from them and they were then de-loused from the infections incurred while transported so tightly together.   They were then issued a uniform and a haircut closer to the skull than any U.S. Marine soldier would ever receive. 

Figure 8. The Work Will Set You Free Slogan of the Auschwitz Gates.

This in effect, these actions de-humanized the Jews so as no longer seen as human beings, but simply as labor to be used by the state.  Lynn covered up the photos of the men and the women in their uniforms from the waist down.  From the waist up, all the prisoners appeared to be the same.

The work camps of the Jews consisted of very hard physical labor.  The labor consisted of building additional work camps, highway construction and other public works projects.  Although the prisoners were fed two meals a day, the rations were not near enough to sustain them due to their performance of their labor.

 

Figure 9. Over-Crowdedness of the Sleeping Bunks.

          Prisoners were housed in over-crowed conditions.  Figure 9. illustrates how the Each car was filled beyond its limit.  The summer heat and the winter cold killed at least 25% of all prisoners before they even reached their destination as illustrated in Figure 8. sleeping bunks were so congested that if one prisoner decided to turn over, then all turned over.  The bunk houses were of coarse cold in the winter and hot in the summer which further made the prisoners more prone to disease conditions in conjunction with the over-crowdedness.

Roll called was performed twice a day, even in freezing winter conditions. All prisoners had to be held accounted for even those who had died the night before.  Therefore, roll call could last up to a few hours to a whole day.  In winter conditions, this too was detrimental to the health of the prisoners.

World War Two Begins :

On September 1, 1939, Hitler finally felt that he had a sufficient military force to begin his invasion into Poland and acquire land for his future Third Reich.  Poland, unfortunately, contained the greatest population of the Jewish people.  Therefore, the Nazis had only increased their problem with dealing with the Jewish population.  They already had more Jews that they could handle in the work camps.  Plan A, open

 discrimination was no longer an option and Plan B, building more work camps was also not a viable option.  Thus began the implementation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

         The most run-down area of the city of Warsaw was evacuated and the Polish Jews were then relocated there.  The Jews were forced to build walls around the city blocks that they occupied topped with barbed wire and broken glass as illustrated in Figure 10.  Jews from all around the Polish country side were then rounded up and sent to the ghetto. 

Figure 10. The Walls of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Figure 11. The Massacre of Babi Yar.

          As Germany acquired more and more land from their conquests, they continued to come across more and more Jews.  During the Russian invasion, SS death squads followed the German army and murdered Jews, Communist members and Gypsies wherever they were found.  Such was the case on September 29 – 30, 1941 at Babi Yar, in which over 33,771 Russian Jews were made to marched in front of a huge trench, told to strip of their clothes and then shot execution style.  See Figure 11.

These incidents continued throughout all areas of Europe in which the Nazis invaded.  Psychologically, it was taking a toll on the soldiers who had execution duty.  Many of the soldiers committed suicide for participating in the atrocities and many simply lived drunk to be able to carry out their orders.  Another issue was that of the ammunition, which should be saved for fighting battles and not for executions.  As our tour guide Lynn then pointed out, the Nazi’s needed another solution rid themselves of their Jewish problem.

The Final Solution :

Our tour then approached “The Final Solution” exhibits.  A call went out to the highly technical German industries.  What was invented and perfected, was the most highly advance form of execution on an industrial scale.  The infamous gas chambers, as seen in Figure 12., were built throughout Nazi controlled Europe and as Jews were seized throughout the conquered new territories, they too were sent by railcars to the extermination camps.

Figure 12., The Typical Nazi Gas Chambers.

As Lynn explained, the Nazis used the Jews themselves, to greet the arrivals in their own language and tell them that they would first take a shower before moving onto their new settlement areas.  The Jews leading the way would often make a point to tell the new arrivals to hang their clothing on numbered hooks in a dressing room and to remember that number so that they could later find their clothes to dress again. 

Once the doors were closed in the shower rooms, soldiers would begin the gassing process to ensure death to all who entered.  Jews were also used to transport the dead bodies to the crematory to be disposed of.  The furnaces would never stop burning and ash continuously filled the air around the camps and nearby farmlands and communities.  Hitler’s final solution continued until the war began to go against them.

Liberation of the Jewish Work and Death Camps :

The tour then moved onto the exhibits of Jewish liberation from their camps.  Lynn pointed out that the camps were not all liberated at once.  The camps were only liberated one at a time as the Allies ran across them in their overall liberation of Europe, the Russians from the east and the American, British and French from the west.

          Naturally, the Allies were shocked and horrified with what they found.  So shocking were the sites; that all three Allied Generals, Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton survey the atrocities themselves as shown in Figure 13.  It was Eisenhower who ordered that anyone with still and motion cameras to fully document everything that they saw, for if not, then 50 years from now, none would believed that it had really occurred.

          At this time, the only Jews who had survived the work and death camps were those between 15 and 20 years of age.  The children were gassed with their mothers who

Figure 13.  General Eisenhower Surveys a Nazi Death Camp.

hung onto them after the arrival to the death camps and the old, weak and sick never did survive.  Thus, was the creation of ORT, The Organization for Rehabilitation

Figure 13. ORT Students Learning a Trade.

and Training of the survivors of the Holocaust.  These young men and women as seen in the photo of Figure 13., had totally lost the greater part of their educational training for professions in the working communities.  Ironically, ORT had built their educational and training facilities near the death and work camps simply due to no other feasible locations available to them at the time.   Sometime it took up to 9 years to rebuild an individual’s life, to make them productive in the community and also to find a new place to live.

Then in 1948, the United Nations sub-divided land in the Palestinian area of the Middle-East and created the State of Israel.  Many of the dislocated European Jews moved to their new homeland.  Other Jews found new lives in the U.S. and with those who still survived in Europe.

The Tour’s Final End :

We then followed Lynn to a special plaque which in essence asks the question stated earlier, “Did we learn from the Holocaust experience so that it would never happen

again.  Most of us in the tour group probably reflected back to the latest world news we had seen or heard from the morning or the night before.  A few brave souls said no, we still have not learned.  But according to Lynn, the correct answer was that we still have not done enough.  

Lynn followed up her statement by retelling the classic college Psychology experiment where one older male actor would not let go of a small child actor who screams and yell’s “Let me go, you’re not my daddy!”  The actors are located on the corner of a big city.  The students would observe that many people passed by the actors and ignored the child’s pleas for help.   This went on for quite some time until three younger and stocky built men pulled the man aside to ask what was up.  The college students also noticed a woman who finally did call for the police at nearby pay phone.  The moral to this story is that we may not have the physical size and strength to help out

 in all situations, but we certainly can find some role to play even if it is to use a cell phone to call 911.  

           Next, Lynn took us outdoors to see the railcar exhibit which was used during the war and is shown in Figure 14.  Although there were only ten of us in the group, we could easily feel the prisoner’s torture inside the boxcar from the Texas summer heat.  Thus, try to imagine that with an overfilled full boxcar load of people.

Figure 14. A WWII Railcar used in the Holocaust.

Figure 15. Wall of Tears.

          Lastly, Lynn led the way to a special room to memorialize the Holocaust survivors in the Houston area.  There were three main walls which contained a painting/sculpture piece.  The first painting on Wall one was in memory to those who had died from the event.  As shown in Figure 15., the second wall contained hundreds of squares and is known as the Wall of Tears.  Each Square represents 10,000 victims of the Holocaust. On the third wall, the painting reflected hope for the future

Conclusions :

            Although I had known about the Holocaust atrocities already, I did find a few more facts that filled in the holes.  The walk through this memorial serves as a testament to the greatest level of man’s inhumanity against man on a scale that is hard for us to understand and imagine.  Memorials such as this and around the world help us to remember that the Holocaust did occur and help to remind us, never again.

            Other exhibits that were not covered here include the Anne Frank story and how some of the Jews survived through hiding, the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto and other acts of resistance by the Jews and finally Texas’s own Lyndon B. Johnson and his “Operation Texas”, refugee settlement effort.

I do recommend the Museum for a visit and please remember that they live off of donations and also, photography is not allowed except by special permission.   Having a tour guide like Mrs. Lynn Gordon was especially a treat, due to her passion for the exhibits and her insights from having surviving family members from the Holocaust.  Hopefully, you too will have Ms. Gordon as a guide on your next visit.

The link to the Houston Holocaust Museum is listed below :

The National Museum of Funeral History :

          The Houston Holocaust Museum can be a bit depressing, so let's move on to something on the lighter side of death.  The National Museum of Funeral History, where their motto is : Any day above ground is a good one.  You may ask, "On the lighter side?  Are you crazy?  No, no, just read on.

          Actually, this museum is for real and has both a serious side and a lighter side to it.  Each year, 2.4 million Americans die. A quarter of them are cremated. The rest are fair game for the funeral industry. This museum is for them, future customers who will be plumped and propped and lipsticked in a rolled steel casket (copper or bronze would be best), escorted to a cemetery in a rented hearse and driver, following a rented flower car and driver, and a host of other accoutrements that make up the average $5,000 funeral.

          The National Museum of Funeral History is a municipal-looking, red brick building on the outskirts of North Houston.  See photo to the right.  It resembles a more of an elementary school, one that serves Sloppy Joes and canned peach halves four days a week. The educational look is perhaps intentional, since the museum also houses the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services in back, a kind of vocational-tech college for morticians.

The National Museum of Funeral History.

          First, in keeping with the traditions of this e-rag, let's explore the lighter side.  The most interesting attractions of this place, are all of the wild and crazy caskets.  Click on the links below to determine what you would to be buried in :

The Chicken Casket

The Crab and Cow Casket

Walk like, um, I mean die like an Egyptian

What Snow White was Buried In.

Rockefeller's Casket, Well Maybe?

          There are many more interesting caskets on exhibit.  However, once you are hygienically sealed in there, how are you going to catch a ride to the Ball?  You could,

Go by Carriage and Horse

or

Sleigh and Horse

or

By Gas Surrounded by Heavy Metal

The Embalming Room.

          Actually, there seems to be row, after row of various kinds of antique hearses here.

          The museum also displays several dioramas depicting the old fashion carpenter constructing wooden caskets, the Victorian waiting room where guests can wait before the wake or funeral procession   begins and my favorite, the Embalming Room as shown to the left.

          The embalming room along with UTMB's Gross Anatomy Lab, would make a nice stage set for some B Grade horror flick.

          Now for the serious side.  There are several displays that give tribute to the following :

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Presidents Funerals of

President Lincoln

and

President Kennedy

          This museum is not so much about the history of funerary practices as an advertisement for justifying an overpriced (and needless, many would argue) American custom. It is about packaging people for death, but never asking why. Part of the aim is putatively educational, but it’s also capitalist self-justification, an implicitly historic, supposedly natural process justifying the enormous amounts of money we are encouraged to spend in their most vulnerable moments. The fact that future morticians in the back of the building are practicing inserting tubes into arterial cavities, flushing out blood is creepy, like touring a McDonald’s museum and realizing butchers in stained white aprons are behind the wall, wielding cleavers

          The "standard funeral" in America costs, on average, $5,000 dollars. This does not cover the hard sell of luxury coffins (mahogany or cherry, or bronze–the Holy Grail of post life containers), or the "up sell" of all the other services involved in a luxury funeral. "Advance planning" (prepaid burial insurance) has long been the industry concession to the high cost of funerals, but it was so rife with race-based pricing the Federal Government had to step in.

          The irony is, you need none of it. Unscrupulous funeral directors will tell you it’s illegal to handle all the arrangements yourself, but as long as you are quick about it, you can show up at the cemetery bearing grandpa in a motorcycle crate in the back of your SUV. There are even caskets available over the Internet. A new Federal law requires funeral parlors to accept these "outsider," usually cheaper coffins.

      For more information, please visit their website listed below :

              

          Well, have you had your fill of death today?  I know I have and promise not to be so morbid next time.  But we sure did learn a lot!

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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 Copyright © 1999 by [The Texas Road Runners - Francis Kiefel]. All rights reserved.