A day at the museum

On Super Bowl Sunday, we took Iris to the Museum of History and Industry, the Seattle history museum largely devoted to the salmon canning industry. They would hate me for saying that, I’m sure, but it’s true. Iris loved flinging stuffed salmon onto a fake boat and operating the salmon cannery simulator, with ball bearings standing in for salmon.

The museum devotes considerable space to commemorating the first mechanical salmon processing machine, designed to do the work done by Chinese butchers before the Chinese Exclusion Act. The machine, I am sorry to report, was called the Iron Chink (this was not its nickname; it was cast in metal on the machine). The museum struggles desperately with this; there’s a brief acknowledgment that “Iron Chink” is horribly racist, but then they use the term a dozen more times.

So I was pleased when I wandered into a different section of the museum where they’d put out some Post-It notes and invited patrons to answer the question, “What makes a livable city?” People wrote down obvious things like parks and sidewalks, and some, of course, took the opportunity to be mildly obscene. One person, however, had written “Chinese people.” Amen to that, right? I smiled. Then I freaked out and yelled for Laurie to come over right away, because I realized the note didn’t say “Chinese people.” It said:

中国人

Best thing I saw all day, except for the 1992 Mudhoney/Nirvana ticket donated by my friend Rob Ketcherside.

3 thoughts on “A day at the museum

  1. Mark J Musante

    I remember the first time that happened to me. I was watching a program that was talking about Japanese internment camps. They showed the forms that they had the people fill in, and I read “complete” “name” (sorry, can’t type kanji), and realized I had seen the kanji for “Full Name”.

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