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Celebrating holidays - vintage style: museum unveils holiday display, sells canvas prints

Allison Hinman, collection manager at the Dickinson Museum Center, stands by the vintage Christmas tree surrounded by gifts that she developed for the holidays. It was unveiled during the museum's open house.

Visitors were drawn like magnets to the display of mounted canvas prints at the Dickinson Museum Center. The prints were auctioned off during the museum’s annual Christmas open house Nov. 30.

David and Lori Del Padre admired one print in particular -- the same butte in the Petrified Forest of the Badlands that they had visited previously.

“As a history teacher, I wish I had the backstory on them,” said David, who teaches history at Hope Christian Academy.

“I thought they were really unusual -- one of a kind,” Lori added.

Harriet and Lee Rebsom talked to Bernie Marsh about the buildings downtown -- some identified as a soda shop, the  Western Grill and the St. Charles Hotel. Then there was the Queen City Club, Fridley’s car dealership, the Binek Coal Mine and cowboys riding in the badlands

“I got to go downstairs in the Western Grill -- the history still give me goosebumps,” said Harriet. “They have  a room where they gambled -- machines like Vegas and they also played poker, but it wasn’t know to the public,” she said.

“They called them Blind Pigs,” Lee added.

Bernie had his eye on one print in particular, although he was looking for prints of the street where the Esquire Club stands.

“I bought many of them last year,” he said.

Ron and Patty Heiser were among the families who brought their great-grandchildren to the museum to see the displays and to make an ornament.

“We bring them to see the dinosaurs -- Evelyn loves rocks -- she’s the rock collector,” said Patty. “They just got their Christmas tree and will put the ornaments on their tree.”

As guests ventured into the museum, they could admire the 1950s Christmas tree display created by the museum’s collection manager Allison Hinman.

“It wasn’t easy doing it,” she said.  “I did it from my own memory.”

Pointing to the icicles, she added. “My mother hated those things. We loved them as kids, so we got them every other year. I can understand why she hated them, they go all over the place.”

The ornaments were from the museum’s collection.

“We have some exhibits on loan, but most exhibits at this point are exclusively our own collection. We feel we need to get them out,” she said.

Hinman then pointed to a 1950s tinsel tree -- made out of an aluminum-like substance.

“What my dad loved about it, of course, was mother had a color wheel so he didn’t have to put up lights.”

A package of vintage bubble lights was lying nearby, but she didn’t dare put them on the tree for fear of a fire.

Hinman pointed to the toys below the tree -- specifically the doll houses.

“Unfortunately, they’re from two sets -- not everything fits,” she said. “I was not a doll person, I had two older brothers and was pretty much a tom boy.”

The museum’s entire digitized collection of vintage prints may be seen on the website Look under “local history/photo digitization project.”

The Museum Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.