As I was going to be on the road, passing through Augusta, Georgia, on my way to visit with the Lizardman of Bishopsville, South Carolina, and as I learned about the existence of the Pexcho’s American Dime Museum, I knew I had to make it a point to drop by. The proprietors are, during this time of pandemic, offering tours of the museum by appointment only. I’m so glad I was able to fit it into my schedule to visit, because this place is pure magic, man. It reminds me so much of my beloved Wolf’s Museum of Mystery, and of all the Ripley’s Believe It or Not venues I’ve visited, and of the Abita Springs Mystery House.
Some of the attractions on display at the Dime Museum—so named because, back in the day, that’s all you’d have to pay to get in to see such an attraction—are genuine historic artifacts and some are carnival gaffes. Which are which? Who cares! Trying to figure it out is part of the fun, and besides, this whole place is an homage to the art of ballyhoo and to the carnival sideshow experience. If they told you which ones were authentic and which weren’t, it would spoil it. Just go and prepare yourself to be carried away.
The coffin, though? I will tell you that it is genuine. It’s a “pauper’s casket.” People who couldn’t afford to buy a coffin to bury their deceased loved ones in would rent this one for a day or three, to display the body, then remove the corpse and bury it sans coffin, returning the casket to the owner. I asked the proprietor if they knew how many bodies had “borrowed” the coffin. He had no idea, but it could have been dozens or more. “And,” he added, “it has the stains to prove it!”