Yesterday I visited two museums.
The first one in Chanute, Kansas, the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum.
Imagine being a small town Kansas girl of 16, having your friend ask you to join her to see a vaudeville show in a town nearby, meeting this young man showing his silent film movies of his sea voyage with Jack London, then going back a second time to see the show and elope with this young man, not telling your parents until you are far away. It changed her life forever, becoming world famous in their time. But Martin’s untimely death in the late 30’s (another plane crash victim) then the outbreak of World War 2 pretty much pushed their names into obscurity.
Next was to the nearby very small town of Piqua (pop. 80), the birthplace of silent film star Buster Keaton. His name is known worldwide and his notoriety has never died. Yet the differences in the two museums were light years apart. Here is the Buster Keaton Museum.
It shares space with the Rural Water District office. The museum is in the front room off to the right half of the building.
It is a shame for Buster deserves a whole lot more. It isn’t that that the little town of Piqua doesn’t care or isn’t trying. They do all that they can. It is just that no one hardly ever comes by. Their museum was in disarray having just painted the walls and the two ladies who ran the water district were trying to put it all back together, in between accepting payments for water bills. One lady came in to pay hers while I was there. The fact is they have more pictures than they do wall space and were at a loss as to how they could display it all. I suggested a partition wall down the center which would give a lot more hanging space. She liked that idea and it could be done at little cost for them. I think a person or two could still move around in the room.
There is a yearly Buster Keaton festival (this year will be the 20th) in nearby Iola and it gets a large attendance. People come from all over including other countries. Yet only a dozen or so from this large gathering will make the short 7 mile trip to the museum. Piqua needs to promote what they have. I suggested some ideas – little business cards (I always pick up one as a memento at places I visit), some postcards to sell (they have abundance of material to work from) and maybe some pins or refrigerator magnets. The only thing they had thought of was maybe t-shirts but I think they need to start small for they don’t have much if any money to work with. They do the best that they can and bless their hearts for that.
And ladies if you are reading this, I never made it to Teeter Rock. The Chamber of Commerce in Eureka was closed. I then stopped at the library. The young lady who had been to the rock was just unsure as how to get me there. Then the prospect of 20 miles of rough gravel road for just a photo or two, pretty much made my decision.