Day 2: August 30, 2013
A Day in Sandusky

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What a perfect building for a merry-go-round museum. It must have been purpose built, right? And there's a big merry-go-round just beyond that curved front wall, right? Wrong. It was built in 1927 as a post office. The USPS moved from the building in 1987 then accidentally triggered its reopening as a museum. In 1988, a series of stamps were issued featuring carousel animals. One was a horse from Sandusky's Cedar Point Amusement Park. Some local people thought this was pretty cool and started planning a party for the day of first issue. The recently vacated post office seemed like the perfect place for the party and so it was. Many times the expected number of guests showed up and ideas born at that party led to the opening of the Merry-Go-Round Museum in 1990.

The circa 1925 horse responsible for all this is in the second photo behind the deer. The deer, circa 1895, was also in the series of stamps. Those are real deer horns which were used because they survived tugs from riders better than carved wooden horns. It's my understanding that kids used horns on carousel animals for putting each others eyes out prior to the invention of the BB gun. The impressive tiger is from around 1900.

Most of the displayed animals are beautifully restored but there are exceptions. The light colored horse in the fourth photograph is one. He still wears his original paint and genuine horsehair tail from 1900. The 1895 rooster also wears original paint with the exceptions of a few places where wood has actually been replaced. The damage occurred when the neglected rooster was used as an archery target. Roosters on carousels are very rare. Even with the patches, this one is worth an estimated $400,000. The value of that all original but more common horse, is a mere $100,000. The museum has its own restoration work shop where volunteers bring dull animals back to life. The last picture shows a pair of identical animals in after and before condition.

Even though it is not behind the curved front wall, there is a carousel in the museum. When it was acquired by the museum, it was entirely devoid of critters so it has been populated with a mixture of old, new, borrowed, blue, and many other colors. Note that the installation includes some of those very important accessories, rocking chairs for observers. Everyone gets a ride, of course, and I chose a fast looking horse for a fun circular gallop. When the galloping came to an end, I dismounted and walked around the carousel trying and failing to get a good shot of the Wurlitzer "band" in the center. Mary, our guide, had offered to take everyone's picture and when I encountered her on my walk, I handed her my camera and jumped aboard the nearest horse which did not look at all like the one I had been riding. So much for continuity.

The Roadside America GPS add-on had alerted me to the "Boy and the Boot" as I neared the museum but I had ignored it. When I left the museum and saw the fountain across the street, I took some pictures even though I had no idea what I was taking pictures of. I figured I could read about it later. Wish I had done it sooner. One thing I would have learned is that there are at least twenty-four similar statues around the country and maybe a whole lot more. It probably seemed a little familiar because I've almost certainly seen a picture and maybe even one of the other statues. Secondly, I'd have learned that the statue in the park is a reproduction. The vandalized zinc original was placed in protective custody at city hall and replaced by this bronze copy in 1992. I could have seen the original in city hall if I'd only known. Lastly, I would have learned that the legend of the statue being brought here from Germany in 1876 is, according to Roadside America, untrue. They report that the statue was purchased in 1895 from the catalog of a New York company.

At the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, it was suggested that, after watching a short movie, I just wander around. The movie was quite good and, for better or worse, so was the suggestion. Sandusky and Lake Erie do have a long and interesting relationship and there are artifacts here from many different chapters of that story. There is not a whole lot of overall organization, however, and wandering around works as well as any other method.

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