A Step Back in Time
A trip to The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum in Spencer, NC, is like taking a trip back in time. The director, Beth Nance, started the museum as a way to honor the memory of her sister, Amy Dawn Morris, who passed away at the age of twenty-one from a terminal illness. In her short lifetime, Amy had collected approximately one-hundred dolls, including the Bob Mackie designer Barbie dolls. While Amy’s collection was the catalyst for the museum, the museum today is filled with items donated or loaned from people far and wide, including dolls, toys, trucks, trains and airplanes.
The doll museum is a perfect fit for Spencer because of the town’s historical past. During the first half of the twentieth century, Southern Railway steam locomotives often stopped at the Spencer shops for repairs on their route from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. When diesel locomotives became popular, the repair shop was no longer needed, leaving the facility to stand empty for decades. Thankfully, that changed with the opening of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The North Carolina Transportation Museum and The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum complement each other with one showcasing the history of transportation and the other showcasing the history of dolls and toys.
Marie Norway, the event coordinator for the doll museum, schedules activities throughout the month, including author visits, birthday parties, the Downton Abbey Club, and scavenger hunts. Several weeks ago Marie invited me to read my children’s books at the museum. A few days before the scheduled event I stopped by to touch base and I’m glad I did. The Downton Abbey Club was having their weekly meeting. During that meeting I learned the club watches an episode of Downton Abbey each week, followed by a brief discussion. They also enjoy hot tea and cookies, served in an atmosphere of that time period. Marie goes all out even dressing the part.
I’m glad Marie invited me to share my books at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum because from that experience I met a lot of interesting people and learned a little more about the importance of dolls and toys in our history. A quote on a card in one of the doll cases caught my eye. The quote was attributed to Lord Thomas Babinton MaCaulay, (1800-1859), and it said, “The study of dolls is the story of mankind.” After visiting the doll museum, I believe Lord Thomas was right. If you’re ever in the Spencer area, I hope you’ll stop by. Marie and Beth hope so, too. Only a short drive from I-85, it’s half-way between Charlotte and Greensboro. To learn more about the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum or the North Carolina Transportation Museum check out their websites.
What’s your favorite historical place to visit? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.