Mysteries: Singing Convict Pictures

Don examines the Tootsie Roll candies that once saved the lives of a courageous band of soldiers, a guitar owned by a legendary musical jailbird, and a bicycle that helped launch humans into space.
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At the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, visitors come to ogle an authentic Apollo command module, a $200 million Blackbird spy plane and technology that created the world's first ballistic guided missile.

A singular artifact seems out of place among the high-tech gadgets and enormous rocketry at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Despite its rusted headlamp, leather seat and luggage rack, this unassuming 1940s-era bicycle changed the course of history for space exploration in America. The story behind how it got here is a heart-stopping tale of espionage and intrigue that thrust one man to the fore of a technology that would transform mankind.

Inside San Francisco’s Main Library, which boasts this amazing atrium, some of the city’s notable inhabitants are chronicled. Among the famous artifacts, there’s a cassette tape containing Dan White’s confession to the murder of Harvey Milk, documents related to beloved city celebrity Emperor Norton and an album recorded by infamous Satan worshipper Anton LaVey.

Among the thousands of San Francisco’s city records is an item that belonged to a radical local who has been largely forgotten. Measuring just 3 inches by 5 inches, these old cookbooks are worn with age and contain many hand-scrawled recipes that were pivotal in helping their author pull off a dramatic deception in the name of civil rights.

Straddling the Texas - Arkansas state line is a city that is literally in two places at once: Texarkana. For centuries, this Victorian railroad town has stood proudly as a crossroads of the Southwest. As a result, it has a rich cultural heritage, some of which is housed in the city’s oldest brick building, now repurposed as the Texarkana Museum of Regional History. Exhibits include Caddo Indian pottery and vintage farming equipment, plus toys and clothing from the everyday lives of past residents.

Inside the Texarkana Museum is one artifact whose purpose is harder to place on the cultural timeline. This tall wooden box is made from mahogany and is adorned with a series of levers, dials, wires and a small lightbulb. But it’s what’s sealed inside that is really fascinating. And the tale of how those contents were once revealed to the world is a gripping yarn of new-world ambitions, dashed hopes and sickening greed.

Arguably the biggest attraction in Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lets the stars and stories of the world’s most powerful art form shine on with 4 theaters and 7 floors of exhibits. Elvis Presley’s custom motorcycle, John Lennon’s costume from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and recording equipment from Sun Studio in Memphis are just some of the iconic artifacts on display here.

One exhibit predates most of the others at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and helped lay the musical foundation for everything that came after. Made in 1937, this 12-string guitar (known as a Stella) was owned by a legendary musician who influenced countless other stars.

Commemorating the character of the city that never sleeps and its 5 boroughs is the Museum of the City of New York. This institution houses an impressive and eclectic collection connecting the past, present and future, including jewels once owned by New York's 19th-century elite, images cataloging social activism in the city and inspired paintings of the city’s most well-known green space, Central Park.

Deep in the New York City archives is a rather patriotic-looking relic. This promotional badge stands as a testament to a fierce rivalry between 2 newspapers that in turn unraveled a brutal crime and helped spark a new era in sensational journalism.

Originally named Potomac in honor of the river that flows near the town’s edge, Quantico, VA, is home to only 480 residents, with a scant 11 streets. It also serves as the main base of the United States Marines and houses an institution that honors them — the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Throughout its long halls are items that inherently speak to the storied, valiant record of the Corps. A sniper rifle from the Vietnam War, Medals of Honor and a pair of Corsair jet fighters from World War II are just some of the incredible artifacts it displays for visitors.

One object appears to have no obvious reason for being on display in a war museum. A staple in the Army diet, the Tootsie Roll has more than justified its inclusion here by virtue of the unexpected role it once played in a desperate battle.