New in the collection: Mt. Airy toaster key fob

Square keychain fob with outline of a toaster and the letters P. and S. and the words Mt. Airy, N.C.

“In the late 1950s, the Proctor Electric Co. built an ultra-modern, $1,500,000 manufacturing plant which became the largest in the country devoted exclusively to electric automatic toasters.  In 1959, a mere two years after opening, the plant produced its 1,000,000th toaster. Close to 50 different models of toasters were made, many under the brand names of Universal, Sears and Montgomery Ward. Mount Airy soon became known as the ‘Toaster Capital of the World.’

“Proctor Electric merged with Silex Corp. in 1960 and then with Hamilton Beach in 1990. In 1998, Hamilton Beach/Proctor Silex [the P.S. on the fob] closed its plant in Mount Airy.

“In the early 1950s the initial grading and excavation for building the toaster factory uncovered a large Native American burial ground. Newspaper accounts noted skeletons, pottery, projectile points, beads and pipes being unearthed and treasure seekers coming to collect these items. An open invitation was issued for the public to come and ‘hunt for relics.’ Sadly, this occurred before the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 or guidance for protecting Native American grave sites or properties.”

— From “Toast of the Town – Proctor Electric and the Native American Artifact Dig” from the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

New in the collection: Last Crockett Park program


Program for Charlotte O's baseball team. It features the headline "The Fun Never Runs Out."

“A final [Southern League] championship came to Crockett Park in 1984 —  a joyous moment in the face of a tragedy to come. After a March 1985 high school playoff game, three juveniles came back to the ballpark and burned it down.

“The O’s would play that season in a makeshift stadium of 5,000 bleacher seats while a new ballpark was being built for them in Fort Mill, S.C. In 2014 the team (by now renamed the Knights) returned to Charlotte to play in downtown’s Truist Field.”

— From 

I remember vividly the night the fun finally ran out at Crockett Park. It was barely a mile from our house, and smoke and charred paper filled the air for hours.

New in the collection: Army depot tool tag

Brass tool tag with the words "William Muirhead and Charlotte Q.M. Depot."

Scottish-born William Muirhead founded the Muirhead Construction Co. in Durham in 1924.

The company’s projects included Chapel Hill’s first large apartment complex, wartime Camp Butner, the reconstruction of Tryon Palace in New Bern and — as evidenced by this brass-plated tool tag — the 1941  conversion of Ford’s former Model T and Model A plant in Charlotte into a quartermaster depot for the U.S. Army. Later uses included assembly of Nike Hercules missiles.

Today the site is home to Camp North End, a sprawling and idiosyncratic commercial complex.

New in the collection: NC astronaut on pinback

Pinback button featuring a photo of female astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir.

“There were plenty of emotional moments that [Christina] Koch didn’t expect, especially when she looked down at Earth and saw a thin line of land jutting into the Atlantic that she could follow up the mouth of the New River to her hometown and her home state.

” ‘The biggest surprise I had was how amazing it was to look down and see North Carolina,’ Koch says. ‘I thought it would be kind of neat, but it had a deeper impact on me to see all the places that formed my memories, the place that formed me, to see the place where all the people who supported me and my dream to becPinback button featuring a photo of female astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir.ome an astronaut lived.

“ ‘It was a profound, perspective-changing moment that I was unprepared for.’ ”

— From “Space, the Final Frontier” by Tim Peeler at NC State News (Jan. 31, 2023)

NC State alumna Koch (left) and Jessica Meir made history by completing the first ever all-female spacewalk.