When Mary Floy Dolphin, 81, was a girl, she and her friends would visit the Herschell-Spillman Carousel in Liberty Lake Park during the summers.
“In the ’40s, we rode the merry-go-round all the time,” said Dolphin, whose parents Homer and Della Neyland started Sandy Beach Resort on Liberty Lake in the mid-1940s.
She said the man who ran the carousel used to let them ride free. She thought that was pretty special until she figured out later that they were being used as shills.
“It looked better to have people on it,” she said.
Those memories are still with her today. Dolphin, a Liberty Lake resident and local historian, and her husband, Howard Dolphin, decided to take a cross-country road trip last fall with another couple.
They found out before they left that the carousel Dolphin remembered so well is now at Greenfield Village, part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.
“(I said) I’ve got to see that merry-go-round,” she said.
The small group of travelers made some changes in their plans so she could see the carousel again. When they got there, they told the carousel operator about their memories of the carousel.
“He told us we could ride it all day long,” she said.
“The people there were so nice,” Howard Dolphin said.
The carousel was at the park in Liberty Lake from 1923 through 1953. The menagerie of animals that prance around the carousel include a stork, horses, a sea dragon, a giraffe, Neptune’s Chariot, a zebra, a tiger, a pig, a frog, a cat and a dog.
According to a Web site, Greenfield Village Memories, the carousel was built in 1913 in North Teswanda, N.Y., where the Herschell-Spillman Co. was located. It moved to Michigan after its time in Liberty Lake. The Web site said that Herschell-Spillman made the only carousels with giant green frogs and animals dressed in human clothing.
Dolphin said the carousel was exactly as she remembered it. Even the music was the same.
“It’s exactly the same,” she said. “They haven’t done anything (new).”
She said the carousel brought back many fond memories for her.
“I cried,” she said.