Elfin Cove was founded in the 1930s. When Mary Jo Lord-Wild arrived in the early 1970s, she found that tools from those early days were in still use. Wash boilers and wash tubs, wringer washing machines, irons that you’d heat on the stove top, and old-time phones that many would consider antiques. In Elfin Cove, though, they were essential to daily life. The old-time residents of the community shared items with Mary Jo as she learned how to get by in the remote town. She recalls that her primary washing machine for two years was a Rapid Washer that looks like a toilet plunger but with baffles.
The tools and machines passed on from the first generation of Elfin Cove residents became the basis for a community museum highlighting the various aspects of life in this idyllic fishing village. But they aren’t just relics. Mary Jo used many of them and explains to visitors how they worked and why they were important to living successfully in this remote village.
Visitors to Elfin Cove can stroll through the museum by arrangement with Mary Jo. Seeing the old-time tools often evokes memories for visitors, who recall seeing a similar washing tub or kitchen bowl at their own grandma’s house when they were children.
The museum itself is a part of the city’s history, too, as it is located in the old school building right on the boardwalk. Small but fascinating exhibits are organized by category: household, store, school, fuel dock, and World War II. Two prized artifacts are especially intriguing: an old World War II field telephone and a Navy binnacle compass.