On Wednesday, June 19, the O.P.A.L.S. (Older Persons with Active Lifestyles) group ventured across the Ohio River to visit Vent Haven, a museum devoted exclusively to ventriloquists and dummies. The trip was followed by lunch at Grandview Tavern. Both are located in Fort Wright, Ky., off I-71/75 at the Buttermilk exit.
This extremely interesting trip was arranged by David Browe. Vent (for ventriloquist) Haven is the home to over 900 dummies from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to ventriloquism and began as a private collection of William Shakespeare Berger, a local businessman who began collecting the dummies when he was 17 years old in 1910. The collection eventually outgrew the Berger's home and is now housed in three small out-buildings, one a former garage.
The museum is open May through September by appointment only and is recommended to anyone over the age of seven. There are dummies from around the world, but all of us were particularly thrilled to see some that were very familiar: Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, used by Edgar Bergen; the talking head in a box, Pedro, who appeared during the 1950s and 1960s with Spanish ventriloquist Señor Wences on the Ed Sullivan Show. Also there are the current popular dummies of comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham: Walter, Peanut, Jose Jalapeno on a Stick and Achmed the Dead Terrorist, among others.
After the tour, the group adjourned to Grandview Tavern where parishioner Mike Nelsen is the chef. The 17 for lunch had a delightful time, reports his proud mother, Margaret.
Shown Above (left to right): Guide demonstrates one of the dummies; Replica of Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen's dummy; OPALS group at lunch at Grandview Tavern; dummy and photo from the Ed Sullivan Show; Nell Gregory monkeys around; Replica of Mortimer Snerd.