|Button King Museum, Bishopville, SC|
Since we had driven all the way to Bishopville, SC on Saturday we had to check in on all the local attractions. After leaving Pearl Fryar's topiary garden I plugged the coordinates for the Button Museum into my gps and steered my friend Rosie directly onto a dirt road that led us for a few miles through back fields and farmland. I was a little skeptical when we started to hit deep ruts and running water on the side of the road but sure enough we came across a Button Museum sign.
The property was a peaceful farm land with two Quonset huts and not a soul in sight. Luckily there was a paper sign on the door inviting us in to explore - and we did. There was a set up video to play of Dalton Stevens on the Johnny Carson show in his button suit, two cars - one a hearse, two caskets, a piano and an outhouse all solidly decorated in colored buttons. We had a good laugh and I got a kick out of getting the button shots. It takes all kind to keep this world of ours spinning!
Roadside America: When Dalton was 53 years old - he's now in his 80s - he developed chronic insomnia. "Television went off at two in the mornin' back then," he recalled. "No more TV. I didn't have nothin' to do." To pass the time, Dalton found an old denim jumpsuit and started sewing buttons on it. He kept sewing for almost three years. He still couldn't get to sleep, but he had a jumpsuit covered with 16,333 buttons.After running out of room for buttons on the suit, Dalton discovered the allure of contact cement. He glued 517 buttons on his shoes, then 3,005 on his guitar. Next he covered a banjo, then a piano, then his 1983 Chevy Chevette (150,000 buttons). Insomnia became an asset. "I wouldn't quit. I wouldn't stop," he said. "I'd go four and five days and never go to bed." The suit, and all of his other button-covered items that followed, are now displayed in the Button King Museum. Dalton opened it in 2008 in a building (built by his children) next to his home.