When I started thinking about a theme for this year’s Thanksgiving Mewsing, what quickly came to mind was our visitors who have commented, “It’s such a joy!” Sometimes they mean the museum and sometimes the conversations with us. It has struck me, as they go on their way and I ponder their words, that it is actually a strange and wonderful reaction to have. Who would ever think that a war museum could bring joy to its visitors? So, this year, we would like to thank you for making such a reaction possible, and for sharing that reaction with us.
Making our Civil War cats and dioramas has been a hobby for 20 years and a business for 7 years. We have always enjoyed making “our guys” and creating scenes with them. I think that, being a natural packrat, dioramas are my way of holding onto a story from history that I find interesting. So, we certainly have enjoyed our dioramas and clay cats, personally.
In high school, we began showing our dioramas to other people—to fellow homeschoolers and to the residents at the retirement community where we worked. Bringing smiles to faces was the highlight of these interactions for us and planted the seed for a museum. If our friends enjoyed seeing and learning from the dioramas, maybe others would too!
In 2015, Civil War Tails Diorama Museum became a reality, and it has been a fun, wild ride for us. Bringing smiles to faces is still the highlight of our work. But it still surprised me the first time a visitor used the word “joy.” But I can say for our part, it certainly is a joy to talk with our visitors, to share our dioramas, to make history accessible for non-history folks and inspire them to want to learn more, to instill an interest in history and/or dioramas in children, and to talk about the historic details with Civil War buffs, including Licensed Battlefield Guides. It’s fun seeing which dioramas catch the visitor’s eye, hearing really good questions from very young visitors (leaving us thinking, “Wow, you’re so much smarter than we were at your age!”), and laughing with visitors over the Headless Horsecat or the construction crew on “The Boys Are Still There.”
The stories that inspired each diorama and the historical detail that works to portray each story are the foundation of our museum, but Civil War Tails will always reflect the fun that we have had over the last quarter century of making Civil War cats. We are so blessed to get to share our dioramas with you, and we thank you for bringing smiles to our faces as we see you enjoying our creations.