Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
May 16, 2010
Dalton Stevens, a.k.a. The Button King, exhibits two button-encrusted caskets in his Bishopville, South Carolina Button King Museum, intended for his eventual burial. There’s a story behind that.
For decades Dalton has suffered from insomnia. He’s spent many sleepless nights alone in his workshop, gluing or sewing buttons to pass the time.
One night, while encrusting a coffin in buttons, Dalton suddenly got tired. “If I don’t go to bed right when I get sleepy, it’ll be another day or two before I can get to sleep,” he told us. So Dalton crawled into the open coffin for a nap.
Then, “I must of had a nightmare,” bumped around, and the lid fell down and locked him in.
Dalton spent seven very long hours trapped in the coffin before his son stopped by the next morning on an unrelated errand and freed his dad. “He said, ‘What are you tryin’ to do, get used to that thing?'” Dalton recalled. “I said, ‘You are the best son that anybody in the world could ever ask for.'”
In his futile effort to open its lid, Dalton tore the coffin lining, so the local funeral home gave him a second coffin to cover with buttons. Dalton plans to be buried in the new one (so far, he’s avoided napping in it). The old one will be displayed in whatever afterlife the Button King Museum experiences after Dalton is gone.
What was Dalton thinking during those seven hours? “I had contact cement on there, and I was afraid I’d left a cigarette and I would burn up,” he said. “I just thought if I could get out of there, that would be nice.”
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Button King Museum
- 55 Joe Dority Rd, Bishopville, SC
- I-20 exit 108. Drive north, then turn right onto Camden Hwy/Hwy 34. Drive four miles. Turn left onto Johnson Pond Rd/CR-41. Drive one mile. Bear right onto Joe Dority Rd, and look for the museum sign on the left.
- Nov. 21, 2016: RIP Dalton Stevens. Museum future uncertain.
- Donations accepted.
- In Transition
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