Friday, June 22, 2007

Inventive excuses

I used to think that no vacation was complete without a visit to the Inventors' Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. OK, that's an overstatement. I went some years ago. It's a beautiful building, but there wasn't a great deal of material on inventions there. The honorees were listed on a series of walls with pictures and lengthy captions. Then in the basement came a few exhibits, mostly for children. The concept is/was interesting, although obviously needed some time and work.

Some months ago, I discovered that a distant relative (to be specific, my mother's cousin's grandfather, if you are scoring at home) had been inducted into the Inventors' Hall of Fame in 2006. After contacting the Hall, I was told that no living relative of Lloyd Espenschied -- who helped invent coaxial cable -- had attended the ceremony.

So when the opportunity came to visit Akron on my vacation, I figured it would be a quick and easy stop. I even got back in touch with Lloyd's granddaughter, and figured I could send her a picture of the display.

I don't know if you could label the trip a disaster, but it was pretty useless.

I asked the person at the admission desk for the Hall employee who had written me; she never heard of her but was willing to sell me tickets to get in. OK. I walked the length of the Hall, looking for a display on Lloyd but came up empty. My wife spotted a database of those honored, and Lloyd was nowhere to be found on it.

Now bad thoughts went through my head. What went wrong? Was it some other Inventors Hall of Fame? Had I messed up part of the vacation?

I spoke to a couple of staff members. They tried the database just like I did, and got nowhere. "Sorry, we can't help you." So I left, $20 the poorer when parking was thrown into the mix.

When my vacation ended, I tentatively looked for the entry on line. There Lloyd was, in the Hall's list of inductees. In other words, he's been inducted a year-plus, and there's nothing on him anywhere in the Hall.

Think the Beatles had that happen to them when they were inducted up the road at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland? Or to Joe Montana when he went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton? I think not.

I'm not the type to tell you what to do with your money. But I'm not returning until Lloyd gets his proper due. Maybe you'll keep that in mind the next time you are in Ohio.