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Loyl Stromberg proposes National Poultry Museum.

Loyl Stromberg is a man with a mission. And no one who knows him will be surprised to hear that his mission involves chickens. He wants to launch a National Poultry Museum.

Well-known as the author of 14 books on poultry and the founder of Stromberg's Chicks and Pets Unlimited, Loyl has been deeply involved in fowl for nearly all of his 78 years. He was seven when his parents started a hatchery in 1921.

He worked at the family's Ohio hatchery before graduating from high school in 1932, when he took over a newly-opened Minneapolis branch. By the late '30s the Strombergs operated hatcheries in 14 locations in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Illinois.

But small, family-owned hatcheries were doomed to go the way of the buggy whip. The 10,000 hatcheries that once existed in the U.S. have dwindled to less than 300 today. Strombergs turned off their incubators for the last time in 1964, and Loyl became an office manager for a monument company.

However, former customers still wanted to order chicks from Strombergs, and Loyl managed to fill those orders in his spare time. In 1969 that moonlighting job became Stromberg's Chicks and Pets Unlimited. The company was moved to Pine River, Minnesota, in 1970, where it is now run by his son and daughter-in-law, Loy and Janet.

One of Loyl's major projects during the past 25 years has been researching and writing Encyclopedia--Poultry of the World. Publication has been set back several times as he found new material to include, but it's now scheduled for later this year--all 450 pages of it. It deals with the origin and distribution of fowl, breeds of more than 40 countries, the social order of chickens, and "many interesting but little-known facts about poultry." Loyl is especially proud of the more than 650 color pictures in the book.

That will be an achievement that will be hard to top in the world of poultry, but Loyl Stromberg has set his sights even higher. He's working to establish a poultry museum. And at an age when most poultry lovers would be content to sit and watch their chickens scratching for bugs, he's attacking it with his usual vigor and enthusiasm.

"I want to see a national museum which will present the ancient history of poultry as well as the development of our modem egg and poultry meat industry," he said, "and at my age, there's no time to lose."

A million-dollar monument to poultry

He has been negotiating with the Agricultural Museum and Farmers' Hall of Fame at Bonner Springs, Kansas. He put up $5,000, the first donation towards what he sees as a million-dollar monument to poultry and its contributions to humanity. He printed 100,000 flyers describing the dream and soliciting funds.

There is no shortage of items available for exhibit in this specialty museum, Loyl notes. In addition to artifacts others have already agreed to donate, his own collection is considerable. It consists of rooster figurines, wood chicken carvings from all over the world, and rare pictures and paintings. Some of the paintings were commissioned for Poultry of the World. The art collection alone is valued at $50,000, and includes the stained glass window featured on the cover of this issue. (The device for forming egg cartons out of paper mache, Countryside 77/1:51, is also in his collection.)

John Skinner, retired University of Wisconsin professor and former Countryside poultry writer, owns a dozen ancient incubators and hundreds of other old poultry items. Dr. Willard Hollander, retired Iowa State University professor, another enthusiastic backer, has contributed a unique egg collection cabinet used in a research program at his university.

Artifacts still on his "want" list include a coal-burning brooder and a "Poorman Feather Brooder." Coal, he told us, was used before the oil-burning and later electric brooders. The other was made of turkey feathers arranged on a board. The chicks would cuddle inbetween the feathers to keep warm. This one wasn't very popular and wasn't marketed very long. "With use it became very unsanitary, and also the feathers would wear out," Loyl said. But if anyone knows the whereabouts of either of these, Loyl Stromberg will certainly appreciate hearing from you.

The Agricultural Hall of Fame and National Center was chartered by Congress in 1960, but it receives no federal financing. The three major buildings already on the 270-acre site were built almost entirely with private contributions, and more are in various stages of planning.

A poultry museum in Holland, which Loyl visited in 1989 and is studying for ideas, was financed 100 percent by the commercial poultry industry. But he feels strongly that an American museum should also represent exhibition and other small breeders.

Stromberg asks that tax deductible cash and material contributions be sent to Walter Vernon, Director, National Poultry Museum and Farmers' Hall of Fame, 630 N. 126th St., Bonners Ferry KS 66012.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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