“Village of Toys” play to bring Toy Maker history to life

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2015

For two women to start a woodcarving and cloth manufacturing business in a small southern town 100 years ago is tantamount to beginning a story by saying, “… in a galaxy far, far, away.”

But that’s exactly what happened, and on the last weekend of this month, Tryon will pay tribute to Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale on the 100th anniversary of the founding of their woodcarving and weaving enterprise, which later became known as Tryon Toy Makers.

On Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m., at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, two accomplished local female actors, Chris Brink and Frances McCain, will bring Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale to life in a one act play titled, “Village of Toys.”

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Following the stage production, local residents, whose lives are connected with the history of the Tryon Toy Makers will be introduced, and there will be an informal Q&A period. This will be followed by refreshments.

The play’s format is an interview set. “Picture Dick Cavett in 1935,” the play’s creator, John Calure said. These two women have just returned from visiting Washington, D.C. and the White House, at the invitation of Eleanor Roosevelt and all of Tryon wants to hear about their journey.

“That’s how the interview begins,” Calure explained. “And for the next 30 minutes, Vance and Yale tell the story of what their real work was about, how they found Tryon, and of course, how the town’s mascot, the Tryon horse, was created.”

The production was inspired by the book, The Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers: a History 1915 – 1940, by Michael J. McCue, second edition published March 2012.

“It’s so important for us to study and celebrate our history,” Calure said. “Just recently we celebrated the founding (by women) of the Lanier Library 125 years ago, and this month, two other women who started Tryon Toy Makers. Sure hope some of this is mentioned in our schools.”

– Submitted by John Calure