Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By: Anne Marie Yurik
Glenda Fulling, board member of the Crawford County Heritage Foundation, waited seven years.
The renovation of the Heath Museum took two and a half years to complete and seven years of anticipation in order for sufficient funds to be raised. However, the museum was successfully opened eight years ago, and it continues to be run today.
The Heath Museum currently houses antiques, donated or on loan, bundles of candy and a blast from the past so people can see where it all began. An old record player, soda machine and the progression of Heath uniforms throughout the years are only a small amount of insight to the history the Heath museum offers.
Despite the hardships of working on the museum, Fulling said that watching the renovation and museum progress was a rewarding experience, especially given her past experience as a campfire girl selling Heath bars.
The museum serves as a form of nostalgia for those who have a long history in Robinson, a new form of entertainment and knowledge on the past for the younger individuals and new information so tourists can see the vintage side of a modern candy bar Fulling said.
“They love it because they get to come in and look at pictures of their family members who worked there, of their grandparents and their grandparents of parents, and some spend hours here,” Fulling said. “They’ll grab their books come back here and sit down and look through the books, and they’ll see their grandpa or their dad or whomever.”
Fulling recalls when Heath hosted their 100th year anniversary. She and her daughter were able to see children connect with their family from different generations, and really learn what was in their past and what their ancestors had done.
“We encourage the younger ones to come in,” Fulling said. “Not just to hang out or whatever but to just see what their ancestors before them what they did for a living and to see what it’s all about. That’s the main thing. We want to keep it alive so that they can share it with their family too.”
Although Heath has a regular stream of customers, Fulling said, they do experience a rise in the summer and festival months as well as a fall during the first quarter of the year.
“There’s always going to be highs and lows in any business; you just have to muddle through it and know that it will be better soon,” Fulling said.
In comparison to the more modernized places around, Fulling recognizes the more retro and classic look of the museum as well as the difference in the items they sell to customers.
“I think it’s unique,” Fulling said. “It’s unique in that it’s an actual soda fountain versus, without naming any names, the newer style. It’s vintage. Also it’s hard ice cream versus soft serve, and we actually mix our sodas versus it coming out of a fountain machine.”
As for the museum in the future months, Fulling said that she would like to keep it running in order to keep the Heath legacy around. She would also like the museum to keep offering insight on Heath and its Robinson history to generations to come.