Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Brush With Fame

I love the things museums treasure.

So I'm excited about visiting the Henry A. DeLand House Museum in DeLand, FL. I've been to DeLand many times and yet I know
very little about it. So off I go to the DeLand House.

The sign says "Ring the doorbell," so I do. The elderly man who
answers looks more like a rabbi (or a gardener) than a guide. His long
beard falls to his chest; his pale blue eyes water with age. He's
wearing an old checked shirt and dark pants (dungarees?) held in place
by suspenders.

He tells me he's not the guide. Someone will be in to help me. He
leaves me alone in the room.

I wander around and peer at the glassware (just like my grandmother's)
and at the paintings. I notice one depicts an elderly man with a long
beard that falls to his chest. I also notice a bust in the corner of
an elderly man with a long beard that falls to his chest.

Finally a woman, Diane, enters the room and begins my private tour,
but not before apologizing. You see, she says, the real guide is a
Broadway trained dancer and is in the other room, but he can't do my
tour. (I don't ask why; I feel I'd be rude.) And the town's famed
historian, Bill Dreggors, is also in the other room, but he can't do
the tour either. (I don't ask why; again, I feel I'd be rude. I am,
though, a touch perturbed.)

So I'm stuck with her, she says. And she's just a clerk in the
museum's office.

Diane, while enthusiastic and charming, is unfamiliar with much of the
house history. So she reads from a series of papers to conduct the

But when she talks about Dreggors, she needs to read nothing, It comes
from her heart.

He's one of her heros. Even the town's officials feel that way.
They've named a park after him (The Bill Dreggors Park) and had his
likeness painted as a mural on a wall downtown (see the photo below). The bust I noticed
earlier is also a likeness of him as is the painting.

I hesitate. I connect the dots.

"Is he the man who answered the door," I ask.

Why, yes, he is.

I smile. Satisfied. As I said earlier, I love the things museums
treasure. And I can tell, this one sure treasures Bill Dreggors.

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