Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 48: One Last Museum Before Home

animatronic mckinleys!

No, animatronic William and Ida McKinley think YOU’RE the creepy one.

Seven days, nine museums. I’ve been counting Presidential burial sites from the beginning, but I hadn’t done the math on how many museums or museum-esque structures we visited on this trip till just now. In all that’s counting:

…and the subject of our next chapter. It wasn’t a primary objective, but it was next door to one, and we had a little money left in the budget for their ticket prices. We figured why not add one more to the roster.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.

We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…

McKinley Museum!

Next stop, next door. Not as grandiose as Hayes’ museum, but still Presidential.

The William McKinley Memorial was mere footsteps away from the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, est. 1946. While it featured moments and artifacts from his life, it also serves as a de facto Stark County History Museum, covering the life and times of the area surrounding Canton, Ohio, and anything local that was out-of-scope for their more famous Pro Football Hall of Fame. A few sights were unique; a few sights were familiar to anyone who’s been to a science, natural history, or children’s museum.

McKinley bust!

A McKinley bust in the front yard welcomes you, and is much easier to reach than the McKinley statue that was 50-odd steps up the Memorial.

kid mckinley!

Young McKinley, the Union commissary officer who did his part to help win the war.

mckinley desk!

The large room with the disturbing animatronics and the larger, living tour group were full of distractions, but I think this was McKinley’s own desk.

mckinley rocking chair!

McKinley’s actual porch rocking chair from their old Canton home.

mckinley stuff!

Another round of Actual McKinley possessions.

mrs. mckinley

Ida McKinley’s valuables have their own section, of course.

Abrupt braking right here for possibly the coolest thing we saw in there: Ida’s 200-diamond tiara with gold and platinum parts, made by a New York City jeweler sometime between 1885 and 1906. True story: the museum acquired the tiara in a 2014 episode of the long-running History Channel series Pawn Stars. The museum held a fundraiser that, thanks to contributions from 400+ folks and entities, tallied up $43,000.00 for the purchase.

The shop wasn’t doing it to gouge the museum. It was a fundraiser on their end, too. Co-owner Rick Harrison donated $40,000 of that sum to epilepsy charities. As Ida dealt with it in adulthood after their two daughters died, Harrison lived with it as a kid. Two lives connecting through a single beautiful headpiece.

Ida McKinley tiara!

The tl;dr version: As Seen On TV!

And now, back to exhibits for which we don’t have great stories:

one country one flag!

Campaign poster for the McKinley/Roosevelt ticket of 1900.

Pan Am Expo souvenirs!

Souvenirs from the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo where President McKinley was assassinated in 1901.

ladies hats!

Right about here is when we segue from Presidential mementos to general history displays, including but not limited to ladies’ fashions of bygone eras.

ladies fashions!

These outfits remind me of a Downton Abbey exhibit we once saw, though any fashion maven could surely tell me ten differences between these and those.

Beulah the Laffing Lady!

On the opposite end of the fashion spectrum lurks Beulah the Laffing Lady, a figure from some local evil amusement park.

phonograph + piano!

Music makers from way back when such as the Thomas Edison phonograph and the Transitional Piano, the evolutionary link leading from harpsichords and grand pianos to upright pianos.


More in my bailiwick: the first Radio Shack TRS-80 ever purchased in Stark County in 1980, for the exorbitant sum of $5,000, which later proved incompatible with America Online.


Then we began getting into the kids’ exhibit areas with cool but not uncommon learning attractions such as this pendulum.

old-timey town!

Our Children’s Museum of Indianapolis used to have an old-timey town much like this.

discover world dinosaurs!

This allosaurus was not the McKinleys’ family pet. Yeah, kids, the museum has great big dinosaurs, yaaaaay.

…and with that we were officially off-topic. Right around the “Discover World” area is when homesickness kicked in again and we decided it was time to move on. We were still five hours from home with one last dead President to check out, and no convenient high-speed interstates leading to him.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

2 responses

  1. I love the animatronic McKinleys – primarily because of their creepiness, though your comments on them made me laugh. It might just be the angle of the photo, but I swear they’ve added glasses to William that were not there the last time I visited the museum – unless William walks around at night and put them on himself!

    Liked by 1 person

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