From my early childhood, my grandmother, Arva, always had a small ruby glass on her table. She used it to hold toothpicks. Grandmother told me her parents (Delilah and John, she who taught me to knit) went to the World’s Fair. Grandmother was considered too young to go, but they brought her back the glass with her name scratched on it.
You can imagine my intense interest then, when I saw this display at the St. Louis History Museum’s 1904 World’s Fair exhibit. The sign on the case said “Ruby flash items are one of the most popular souvenirs remaining from the World’s fair. The distinctive, decorative glass first appeared in abundance in 1893 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. The technique for making this type of glass begins with the dipping of hand-blown clear glass into red glass. The thin red layer could then be scraped away to personalize with names or memorable dates.”
I walked through the exhibit, imagining Delilah and John walking around this vast park. Which of these sites did they take in? How long could they afford to stay? Did they wear clothes like the exhibit?
When I got home, several rainy days passed before I went to my china cabinet to get Arva’s glass. When I set it down in the sun for a picture, I was amazed to read the second side: it was from the Chicago Exposition in 1893, not the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Oh well, at least I learned about Ruby Flash.