No amount of prior research about Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels can prepare you for the moment your eyes — and ears — meet his collection of vintage musical instruments.
Usually it’s a “wow!” that escapes the lips of visitors upon seeing the collection for the first time, says Dr. Ted’s Manager Millie Schum. The museum, located inconspicuously near the small town of Dale, Indiana, off of U.S. Highway 231 S., stores machines from the 1800s to the mid-1900s from all over the world.
The name Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels isn’t simply a motif — its founder Dr. Ted Waflart works as a physician practicing occupational medicine at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana. Before becoming a doctor, he worked as a mechanical engineer for nearly seven years before deciding to attend medical school. Waflart, who lives in Huntingburg, Indiana, has practiced medicine for more than 20 years.
Waflart says he always has loved music; he played a clarinet in his youth and recalls listening to the tunes from the merry-go-round at Fontaine Ferry Park, an amusement park in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1905 to 1969. He first started collecting musical instruments in 1973 after spending the summer in the Appalachian Mountains and discovering an old pump organ that he later restored. “I sort of always had this dream to have a museum and make it open to the public,” says Waflart, who says he’s seen similar collections, but they are something usually hidden in the privacy of a collector’s home.
Twenty-five years ago, Waflart opened Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels, which today is open year round for tours of 15 or more. The tour lasts about an hour as Schum guides visitors through a colorful room of collectible instruments and other antiques, and plays 16 of the music machines. The cost is $7 per person and popular among bus tour groups. In the unique gift shop are music boxes, tin toys, iron banks, collectible bears and dolls, and a variety of country themed home decorating items along with some antiques.
What is the collection of rare musical marvels worth? It’s a question Schum says she often is asked and she replies she’s never cared to know the answer.
“These instruments are my friends,” she says. “I don’t look at it as having a price. We just want to share the knowledge of these instruments.”
For more information about Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels, call 812-937-4250 or visit drteds.com.