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Visit the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center Today

The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.

Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center

Our Story

For over 50 years, a memorial to Richard I. Bong was in place in Poplar, Wisconsin, about 15 miles east of the Twin Ports cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. It honored Dick Bong of Poplar, America’s leading Ace of all time, who piloted a P-38 Lightning through more than 200 missions over the Southwest Pacific in World War II and destroyed 40 enemy planes – the most by any United States pilot before or since.

After Major Bong’s death a group of businessmen and residents of Poplar formed the Richard Ira Bong Memorial Foundation, Inc., with the goal of raising funds for a memorial which would include a Lockheed P-38 Lightning like those flown by Dick.

Memorial funds were raised with the help of the Veterans of Wisconsin and other interested groups and individuals; the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post #435 acquired a P-38 from the Air Force and donated it for the memorial.

The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as

Hits from the bong

November 16, 2011

By Erika Taylor

People are usually quite shocked when I tell them we have this bong in the Museum collection. Perhaps because the type of bong shown above is hand-made? Common? Looks a little like rubbish?

I’m not sure why it is so shocking, museums all over the world have drug paraphernalia in their collections. The Powerhouse itself has a nice collection of opium pipes, ceramic water pipes, and syringes.

This particular bong was collected by the Health and Medicine Curator in 1996, and she states

The smoking of marijuana is becoming an increasingly common recreational pursuit in Australia. Even though marijuana remains an illicit drug, many kinds of manufactured bongs are freely available in specialty shops. However, amongst young people with limited incomes, the home-made, disposable bong is very popular. Often referred to as ‘Orchy bongs’, after a brand of orange juice, they are made from a plastic sport drink or juice bottle fitted with a piece of garden hose. The rise in popularity of this style of marijuana smoking explains the mysterious rash of chopped hoses in the front gardens of Australian suburbia in recent years.

The advantages of this kind of bong are; Firstly, they are cheap – manufactured bongs are expensive and often breakable, whereas the only outlay for the user(s) of an Orchy bong is the metal cone. Secondly, they are disposable, so that when they become dirty and smelly they do not have to be cleaned but can simply be thrown away. Disposable bongs are a common sight in gutters, stormwater drains, parks, beaches and other places where rubbish accumulates.

This particular example was found in a street gutter in Ultimo, an inner-city area of Sydney. It is made from a … drink bottle and is decorated with graffiti-style insults, probably written with a green … paint pen. For the Powerhouse Museum collection, it is a significant example of the ephemera of life in the 1990s.

I thought I would write this blog post as a reminder that not all museum objects are shiny, pretty, or expensive. Some come straight from the gutter, yet are intrinsically valuable in the power they possess to tell a story.

  • bong
  • chemistry
  • collections
  • drugs
  • marijuana
  • Object of the week
  • opium

5 responses to “ Hits from the bong ”

bloody good article, been making these since the 80s. Still making them now. ol school smoking item

Hits from the bong November 16, 2011 By Erika Taylor People are usually quite shocked when I tell them we have this bong in the Museum collection. Perhaps because the type of bong shown ]]>