Donated items to Dayton Museum fuel imagination |

Donated items to Dayton Museum fuel imagination

Ruby McFarland
For the Appeal

What’s in a day of the Dayton Museum docent?

I’d have to say, to begin with, that the museum building is my home away from home. I love every nook and cranny of the old schoolhouse. I travel around with a huge imagination, and when I look around the museum, I conjure up a lot of stories.

I feel like Sophia in the television sit-com “Golden Girls.” Imagine this: Dayton 1850.

Most Saturdays, it is a couple of hours before a head is seen poking through the door.

Some ask: “Is there a charge?”

The answer is “no.” Someday we may have to charge to defray expenses, but for now, it’s a good price – free! We are self-supporting through memberships, book or item sales and contributions, which at times are pretty lean.

I have surprises now and again. One Saturday recently, a man and his wife, traveling from Slobovia, once a part of Yugoslavia, stopped by for a look.

They spoke English, and, as is my practice, I asked them to sit down so we could visit. One learns a lot that way. I think of my days at the museum as a learning experience.

The gentleman thought the museum was well-thought-out and said he, too, learned a lot. He is a Slobovian pediatrician. He bought a children’s book we sell, “Children of the West.” No doubt the book will be in his waiting room.

Quite often, I have folks who want to give an artifact to the museum.

Sometimes the board of directors gets on my case because I don’t know how to say “no.”

Recently, I accepted a parlor organ. The man came in and said he had the organ in his garage. It had belonged to his mother, who lived in Dayton in bygone days.

Another fellow said he was selling everything since his wife had passed away, and he was going on the road. He had a nice new RV and too many artifacts he wanted to get rid of. He had a wall clock to give us dated 1884 that had been in his family from Norway. I accepted it – come see.

Then, just last week, a man donated a very old mineral-testing kit and an “Engineering & Mechanical” book, circa 1860.

Would we like to have it?

“Sure,” says I.

And another man came in who makes miniature mining equipment. He gave the museum a beautifully crafted ore car equipped with a pick, shovel, dynamite box and candle holders used in the early-day mines.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley’s donation criteria is that the item was used in Dayton, Sutro, Como or the Comstock.