Historical Items of Interest: Preserving Catsup, Ansel Adams at UCB, and the Ovation Award Statuette

Today’s lunchtime news chum brings together three stories that have a loose connection with history:

  • Ketchup Worth Saving. A catsup bottle near St. Louis is receiving a historic preservation award. Well, to be precise, it is the world’s largest Ketchup bottle, and it has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. To clarify, we’re talking about a Catsup-shaped water tower along Illinois Route 159, just south of Collinsville. The 170-foot tall water tower was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Company for the G.S. Suppiger Ketchup bottling plant, which bottled Brooks catsup. In 1995, due to the efforts of the Ketchup (or is that Catsup) Bottle Preservation Group, the roadside attraction was saved from demolition and restored to its original appearance. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2002 and the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • Someday My Prints Will Come. A theatre and dance professor doing research at UC Berkeley discovered a treasure-trove of Ansel Adams prints of UCB while looking up something else. What happened is this: In 1964, University of California President Clark Kerr hired Ansel Adams to photograph the UC system. The goal was an elegant and oversize table book to celebrate the centennial of the university. However, before the celebration could begin, Gov. Ronald Reagan fired Kerr.  The book disappeared. The photographs went into the library archives. The pictures are now on exhibit at the Bancroft Library, and the book, Fiat Lux, was republished this year. Further, the UCB administration was persuaded issue the book to every faculty member and incoming student at UC Berkeley. That means 11,000 new copies are out there, more than the original print run of 10,000. Funded by private donation, “Fiat Lux” is a gift, compliments of the Board of Regents , in exchange for a tuition check in the amount of $5,610 for the fall semester. Unless the University of California Press adds a commercial run, the only way to see it is to come to the Bancroft, find a freshman, or search the used bookstores next to campus. I’ve seen the book (we have a new freshman), and it is beautiful.
  • Standing Strong. Have you ever wondered where award statues come from? Here’s an interesting history of the Ovation Award statuette from the LA Stage Alliance. Next time I see the statue (in a couple of weeks when we go to the Colony), I’ll look at it quite differently.