On Saturday, I finally had a chance to visit the Bayless-Selby House Museum in Denton, TX.
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Other may think it's silly to drive 3 hours just to spend an hour looking at a small museum, but overall, I think the trip was worth it. I should have taken way more pictures than I did - I didn't even think of taking pictures until we were upstairs.
On the way to the Museum, we drove past the northern edge of North Texas State University - right through the student food district.
There was The Crooked Crust - "Pizza just this side if normal", Cool Beans Bar and Grill that didn't serve any beans at all - not even coffee!, The Pita Pit serving a huge variety of pita sandwiches, and the restaurant that proved to be utterly irresistible: Mac Daddy's macaroni and cheese bar.
They had over 25 different mac and cheese dishes. It was the kind of mac and cheese I make, except I didn't have to make it! My daughter ordered the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese:
And I had the mac alla ajillo with shrimp:
They were both excellent. I would probably have had less mozzarella and more lemon on the alla ajillo, but that's personal preference. It was well-prepared, well-presented, and the staff was delighted to be working there, very excited about the dishes. When asked about their favorites, every one had 2 or 3 favorites, and they got into a debate over them, so in the end, we picked based on our preferences, and not their recommendations. It's cool to go to a restaurant where the staff likes practically everything on the menu.
They gave us a sample of their mac zeppole - deep fried mac dusted with cinnamon sugar, just because they "made too much" and wanted us to try it.
I am very glad that they are a 3 hour drive away. If they were closer, I'd eat out way too often.
From there, we went back to the Bayless-Selby House. Saturday was the very last day for their Victorian Mourning exhibit, wherein they displayed how a Victorian home would look when it was in mourning. They removed the outdoor black drapings because it was very windy, but the interior was nicely done.
All the mirrors were covered with black cloth, all the portraits were draped with black.
The portrait of the "deceased" had candles burning in front of it. There was a child's wicker casket in the side parlor, along with a tambour where someone was working on a hair ornament. A lock of the deceased's hair was under a bell jar for display.
The main parlor had another coffin - apparently this house was stricken with the dead... This coffin was a heavy, lead-lined coffin made of mahogany wood. There were calling cards on a side table, black edged to indicate mourning.
The ceilings of every room were wall-papered, except the kitchen, which was painted. The walls had up to three different wall papers on them: the main wall paper, a complimentary "wainscotting" wall paper on the lower quarter of the walls, and a wide band of contrasting wall paper just beneath the crown moulding. The ceiling papers were often embossed and usually picked up the primary color of the main walls.
I didn't take pictures downstairs, and by the time we were finished with the upstairs, the downstairs was too crowded to take pictures.
Then, we went upstairs. The space at the top of the stairs was decked out like an office - later we saw the exact same desk at an antique store.
The first room we saw was a child's room, filled with toys and a wash stand -and lots of home remedies - cough drops, paragorics, and liniments. The toy animals all had black ribbons tied on their necks, and the dolls had black ribbons tied on their arms.
I didn't think to take pictures until we were in the parents' room, the room where, for the purposes of the exhibit, someone had died.
The first thing we saw walking in were the eye caps.
These were used to help the eyes retain a look of "just sleeping", because the eyeballs would sink into the head without these caps propping up the eyelids. I'd seen the boxes eye caps were in before, and I'd seen modern eye caps, but never a set of Victorian eyecaps. So I took a picture.
On the same table as the eyecaps were various implements used to make a corpse look pretty.
Beside the table with the eyecaps was a table with the mortician's make up case.
Inside the door, set aside as if they were no longer needed, were various surgical tools and other medical items, presumably used to try to keep the "deceased" alive.
This is the mortuary bed used to lay out the deceased for his final portrait before he was placed in the coffin for the wake. Note that the museum found a funeral portrait - those are not easy to find.
They still take funeral portraits and then a photo of the grave site in Germany. My grandparents had several sets of their children who were killed in WWI and WWII. My mother had the funeral and grave site photos of her parents. And I have all of those, plus the ones of my parents. I don't know if that tradition will continue for my children.
Anyway, the highlight of the exhibit was the embalming bed and kit - one of the most complete kits I've seen.
It was worth the drive down, and worth the donation we left in their donor box.
Because we still had a large part of the day left after the museum, we decided to stop at a costume shop we passed every time we went to DFW but had never stopped in before. Rose Costumes was always closed when we'd drive by early in the mornings or late at night, but for once, we'd be passing during their hours, so we stopped.
There were also 2 antique stores in the strip mall, and we had time to visit both of those as well.
Then we went home.
From the time we left until we returned home was 10 hours, and cost 1 tank of gas and one meal, plus the donation we left at the museum. Not bad for a fun little day trip.
And here are some more fun things: the awesome Tops!