I wonder how many of you received your earliest inspirations from books and pictures of chemistry labs, like the ones pictured above. The upper photo was much like my first lab. I had discovered the Biological Supply Co. from Maryland. It was a catalog that fueled my very first ambitions of creating a home chemistry lab. The glassware was a lot more expensive than what is found on Ebay today. However, saving a little summer cash could furnish a few flasks and a handful of test tubes. Most of my chemicals were bought locally, such finds as Calcium Carbide from the Western Auto store and Sodium Salicylate from Clark's grocery down the street from us, supplied many hours of fun. I didn't know much about chemistry, so most of the reactions were just to make changes in color or how much fizz one could create. Regardless, it was an excellent hobby which kept me motivated when not in school.
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Do you remember experimenting in your back yard? Maybe you owned a chemistry set like me. AC Gilbert and Co. began their wonderful product in 1909, in Westville, Conn. It survived many years, as an excellent educational tool. As a child of the 50s I enjoyed owning a set that opened with two panels. The manual and test tubes took up most of one side and the chemicals the other. It also had an alcohol lamp with an attached blowtorch. When you wanted to melt a glass rod, you had to blow into a black tube. I wonder if any kid ever sucked in by mistake. We very seldom followed instructions. Let's just mix some stuff together and see what we get. I wonder how many of you had the same experience. Let me know what kinds of experiments you conducted.
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