On this show, Bob visits “The Price of Freedom Museum” in China Grove, NC (North of Charlotte on I-85). This is a vast and unique collection of World War II and military memorabilia that got it’s start in a service station. You don’t want to miss this story and a peek at what the collection holds.
You’re a good chauffeur Bea!
Welcome to this week’s edition to Military Collectors.
We are in China Grove, North Carolina, one of the most remote spots that we’ve ever been in on this show.
Right here at a location in China Grove where a collection from 1954 all the way up through present day has started right here, The Price of Freedom Museum in China Grove.
Which actually bore itself a start in 2004 but it all started here in 1954 by Bobby Mault and he is a resident from China Grove and that’s our focus on Military Collectors this week.
Well, Military Collectors has found another jewel of a collection right here in the state of North Carolina, China Grove to be exact.
I have found probably one of the most extensive private collections of artifacts from, dating back to World War II.
Well, I tell you what, I’ve got to introduce the guy that owns it, put it all together and we are in basically a replica of his living room during World War II and it’s Mr.
Bobby Mault from China Grove.
Bobby, God bless you too my friend and it is such an honor and a privilege for Military Collectors to be here to showcase this week what you have collected your entire life.
For and in much like this home setting here, in well, what it really is the Price of Freedom Museum which you started.
Tell me a little bit about about the Mault family.
Okay, because I think this room kind of says it all.
This is kind of where it started World War II.
[Bobby] Right, we moved down from Salisbury in 1939 and where the Porky’s Barbecue is now and it was nine children in our family and mother and dad.
And four of my brothers was in service and we had three of my brothers was missing at times.
So, and two, one of my brothers had two ships blow’d out from under him.
And another one in the Navy and the USS Mayrant, it was hit by a German torpedo.
And then my other brother, he crashed on Bougainville.
[Bob] You know, from that you started the station in ’54 right there and then in China Grove and that began your collection.
You just have to really recognize the uniqueness of having a filling station in a small hometown in North Carolina and then in 1966 that’s the height of the Vietnam War.
You’re now collecting things and that, that really is what started the collection here at the Price of Freedom Museum.
[Bobby] Mm-hmm, yeah, and the first item I got, Dan Richie was a Oliver dealer in China Grove.
He gave me his hat and his medals and all.
And I had told my brother, I said, “You know my heart is set on something way down the road. I don’t know what it is but I’m not gonna buy or ask for anything.”
And so, now I have 1200 uniforms.
Received 1200 uniforms.
[Bob] And all of the artifacts that go with them.
And so, you know, what I want to do is on Military Collectors this week, as well, I want to take folks through the various services that you all pay tribute to here.
This is a great volunteer organization, so we’re gonna go basic service by service here on Military Collections to show these folks who love collections exactly what you’ve amassed here.
And folks stay tuned because our next segment coming up, Bobby is going to take us through each one of the service rooms of all the different things and these are from actual former service members, their families.
All, mostly, I would say, probably 80 to 90% from North Carolina.
And they have wanted their artifacts to live on through the Price of Freedom Museum.
Stay tuned we’ll be right back.
And welcome back to Military Collectors.
We’re in the room that started it all.
In 2004, here at the old school building just outside of China Grove North Carolina for Bobby Mault.
And of course, all of these items that you see here in the museum, especially here in this room, all began, well, they really started at the gas station in downtown China Grove.
It was a Marathon, then it was a Texaco and then of course today as all, all companies change, but Bobby’s still in business.
He’s still ringing them up one vehicle at a time.
Still pumping gas and you know, Bobby, I will tell you, this is such a special room to you because this, this really started the collection.
[Bobby] You’re right, mm-hmm, 1966.
[Bob] Started in the service station.
And they brought all of these different items, folks would just drop them off, you know, how does the word of mouth from 1954 to 1966?
How did folks know that you were interested in doing this?
[Bobby] Well, I think, the service station, you have to give it credit.
Because people had known me a long time, you know, in business before, that I think, well, it was trusted.
They trusted me.
[Bob] Well, and you know, one of the key things, I think is, is you didn’t pay for it.
They wanted this stuff to be displayed.
They wanted it, their legacy, from their family member, to live on.
And you’ve done it so well here and the one thing that I find so unique here is that when people come through and they ask you to see where so and so’s picture and uniform is, you can take them right to it.
Now that’s remarkable, but Bobby you have done something, I think, special here in China Grove with the school district and it’s a mandatory class for all fifth graders.
Within this school district, that they have to come here.
So, tell me a little bit about that.
[Bobby] Well, there’s, it’s mandatory that all fifth graders will attend this, the school.
And we give them on the scavenger hunt and then after an hour we put them in a classroom and we teach them about the landing of D-Day and the sacrifice has been paid for their freedom coming up here that day or they would never be able to come up here.
[Bob] Well, and then of course, how many kids normally come through every year?
[Bobby] Oh well, in eight years we’ve had 14,000.
[Bob] Oh my goodness, that’s just tremendous.
Well, take me just a little bit real quick through the steps of the museum.
You’ve got the museum arranged off of each one of the old classrooms.
You’ve redone them all and you’ve got them all basically designated for different services.
Tell me a little bit about that.
[Bobby] Yeah I have the Army, Army room, Navy room and all each branch of service has their own room in it.
[Bob] Then you’ve basically laid out.
You have an auditorium over there.
Which is really, I think, that’s very, very special.
You’ve got a library over there which is, I think, is just very, very unique because you know, even small kids and even us big kids, still love to see how, you know, this stuff can be displayed.
And of course, then recently the the replica of the 1940s home, which is I think, is so unique.
I don’t believe I’ve seen that.
Of all the collections that we’ve showcased on this, – on this TV show, has never seen that.
That was all your vision.
Tell me about, about that.
[Bobby] Well, about the auditorium, what I came, most of the servicemen in World War II, they would not talk to their families about the war.
And they would talk to me because I had their uniform and then some of the children said, “Did they tell you about that?” I said, yes.
“Well, will you…?” – I said, “No, you have to have your dad to tell you.” So, another thing that I’m going to do in the auditorium, we got a screen that we were going to pull down, now when the music, if there is two or three groups of musicians, and they change, then what I’m going to do is pull the screen down and play the videos of two or three World War II veterans.
And this is my thinking, on that, that ones that tried to get them to talk to them and they wouldn’t, they can say, “Saturday night, I’m going to see granddaddy at the museum.” [Bob] There you go.
Well, Bobby, I’ll tell you you have just done a tremendous job here and there’s more to see and more to tell here.
But folks, stay tuned when Military Collectors comes back, we’re going to walk you through this 1930s school that now houses the personal collection of all of these service members and all the folks here who have dropped it off and left it with Bobby’s trust.
After you sir.
Well folks, this is the China Grove Price of Freedom Museum.
This is the old school building that was built in 1936.
Bobby was born in 1934 and so it’s so appropriate that we are back here now today, that he has taken over and he has built the Price of Freedom Museum.
And let’s go in Sir, the United States Army, caissons keep rolling along.
And you know, I will tell you, although I’m partial to the Army, I don’t really believe I have seen a personal collection like what you have amassed here.
Kind of just, let’s just talk a little bit about some of the things and the items that these folks have left you, in order to display, because it’s so special.
[Bobby] This gentleman, right here, is one that Don uses to teach the school children about the D-day landing.
That’s the way they were dressed and everything and wanted to take a look…
One night, I came up here to do some work about 12 o’clock and I did not realize that he brought that in there.
And I was over there and when I turned that I thought somebody was standing in there watching me!
[Bob] He was guarding you with his VAR there you go.
[Bobby] Bob, before we leave, I want to show you one thing.
(Okay.) I really stand and watch it a lot of times and this was Ralph Stevenson.
And he was in the Air Corps at that time and the flew 35 missions and on the 35th one he was shot down and taken prisoner in Germany.
[Bob] And plus he also served World War II and Korea.
(Yeah) Wow, and he was a prisoner of war from ’44 to ’45.
Well, I know now.
Is his family local here?
[Bobby] No, he didn’t have family, really.
No, he was from up north but he didn’t have.
[Bob] How did you acquire his items?
[Bobby] Someone at the station recommend to come and look at the museum.
[Bob] And, you know, it’s so, it’s so unique that it all comes back to the service station.
Is that not, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of another story where what you have amassed here started at the filling station.
That’s is really so special.
Well, shall we go look at some others.
(Okay) We got a lot of other things.
That’s, what’s next?
What room we gonna go look at next?
(Navy room.) The navy room, okay, which is special to your family.
(Yes!) Both your brothers in the Navy.
Okay, so you had two brothers in the Navy, so that room’s got to be special as well.
[Bobby] Oh yes, two in the Navy, Ray and Claude.
[Bobby] Well, I’m gonna ask you now, how many members of your family, your brothers and sisters, are left alive?
[Bobby] My one sister and myself.
And that’s it.
Out of the out of the nine in the family, you know, and it’s so unique, of course, back during those years, it was not out of the ordinary to have nine members in the family.
(That’s right!) You know, everybody had to help, so yeah.
(Yeah.) Now what makes this room, other than your brothers served here, what, what is, makes it so special to you personally?
[Bobby] Well, have a picture of Mr.
And he was leaving out of Pearl Harbor and when torpedo hit his ship, the West Virginia.
(Hmm.) And right here, is Mr.
And when I opened my museum for the first time, he had the opening and the prayer for me.
[Bob] And so, he was here.
(Yeah) Back in was 2005, 2004?
Well, I will just tell you, you know, for such a short time of, of only having 14 or 15 years to put something like this together, you’ve just done a tremendous job.
And I know, you’ve had some volunteers to help, but you know, it’s your vision and, and, and you know, it’s, it’s, this is special.
[Bobby] That’s what I always said and I always learned, don’t take credit for it, but the thing about it is, I have to take credit.
The Lord gave me the vision and if he hadn’t of sent 70 volunteers, you wouldn’t see nothing here.
[Bob] But what’s next?
I can’t wait, let’s go see the next room.
Now is it Marine Corps or the Air Force?
[Bobby] It would be…
Do you want to go into the school room?
[Bob] We can.
Now, tell me a little bit of the history about this specific room, Bobby.
Now this was, this is kind of what, for a 1st and 2nd grade, used to be taught back in the day?
Boston taught it.
[Bob] So, now you use this for the 5th graders (Right.) Then to come in and and reenact and relive history right here.
And so, you know, I think it’s so appropriate and it’s so wonderful that you do this for these kids and, of course, I see the the, the teacher up on the wall and old, old pictures of students from the day.
So, I mean, you know, and now you’ve also got a legacy here and here he comes Bobby Harrison, right here.
Tell me about this gentleman here, ok, because…
[Bobby Mault] Well, I want him to carry it on.
And most programs I have started in the past, and I’m usually doing 10 years at a part.
And most all of them go for a year and then they’ll say, “Too much work!” But, they don’t have the heart in it.
[Bob] And so, Bobby does.
How did you find this guy?
[Bob] Well, we found each other.
[Bobby Harrison] We go back to the 70s whenever he started a neighborhood softball park.
And then I started patronizing his service station, you know, after I got my driver’s license.
And then just stayed in touch with him over the years.
I’ve always had a passion for history and whenever I heard he was opening a museum, got one of my friends to come over and bring his military Jeep for the first open house in 2006.
And then I acquired my Jeep and started bringing it.
And then I started volunteering here in 2008.
[Bobby Mault] Oh, there’s one question, I want to ask you.
(Okay) Why do you think that the uniforms hanging in the windows are different branches of service when the rest of them got a room of their own?
[Bob] Well, looking at all these pictures from the 30s and 40s and throughout history, could it be that those folks went to school here, that served here?
(You’re right!) Is that correct?
[Bobby Mault] You’re number 10 to come up with that answer.
[Bob] God bless you!
Well guys, I will tell you, it has been such an honor and privilege here, to have you guys on Military Collectors this week.
I promise you that we’re going to come back because this is one of the very few collections that continues to evolve.
The service station, it all goes back to the service station in China Grove and the passion that, this man, has had has now passed on to you.
I know, he’s still going to be involved but that’s what Military Collectors tries to showcase is the passion of collectors just like him, just like you, and one other specific guy that we’re going to talk to.
Folks, when we come back, on our segment of Military Collectors, in our final segment, here at the Price of Freedom Museum in China Grove we’re going to talk to a guy who has a special attachment to this museum and he also has a special attachment to these two guys.
So stay tuned, when we come back, we’re going to introduce him to you.
Well, folks here on our final segment of Military Collectors this week, I have to introduce you to a very special guest, a good friend of mine that I’ve known for several years.
Many of you all back, if you grew up in the 80s and the 90s and here in the south, you ate at Food Lion, you recognize this gentleman, because he did the commercials every week for Food Lion.
And I’m talking about, none other than, the one the only, Mr.
And here, Tom, I will tell you, I have to shake your hand because I just have to have the folks out there understand that you have a special connection to this museum.
Ok, we’re going to talk about Food Lion here in just a minute, ok, and your, your career there as the CEO, but you are so generous and such a guy that just absolutely believes in causes.
We’re gonna talk about that too, but I want to talk about this special place, the Price of Freedom Museum here in China Grove.
This is the very stage, when you were a youngster in 1947 to 1955, you went to school here.
[Tom] That’s right.
[Bob] Well, what was it like back then, ok?
I know your picture’s on the wall and, gosh, you in a little classroom in there for a first and second grade but what does this place mean to you now that it’s come from elementary now to a museum that you support.
[Tom] Well, it’s great.
I attended 8 years here.
We had two classes per teacher and it was, it was pretty rural, no air conditioning, like today.
And then to see it become a storage building for the, for the county was quite disappointing and then, Bob came in and took it over and, gosh, it’s just exciting what, what he’s done to make it such a great museum.
[Bob] Well, you know, and I think one of the special things too is, is, and folks, on a later show here of Military Collectors, this gentleman is a collector in his own right, ok.
Now we’re not going to talk about that today other than to tell you that we’re going to be back up here at the Price of Freedom Museum here in China Grove at some time later in 2019 to 2020.
This gentleman is helping them build a building for a wheeled vehicle collection of which he has a very close connection with, as well.
And so, we’re going to be talking more about that later, but I want to just talk a little bit about the enormity and the mission and the focus about what Bobby has put together here at the Price of Freedom Museum.
[Bob] Well, it to me is just amazing!
That an individual could bring all this together and Bob, such an honest guy, and such a straightforward guy, that people really trust him, and so they want to leave things that they have from the past here so other people can enjoy it.
And yet, they know where to go to see it, if they want to see it.
The other thing that’s so important, I think, he does is teaching a, teaching the 5th graders.
Letting them know, of course, the teachers teach about World War II, but no, there’s no connection better than seeing the actual things.
And Bob has his heart in this, he works so hard, him and Bobby are just great people.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed knowing them.
[Bob] God bless you.
Thank you for so much, what you do here for the guys here at the Price of Freedom Museum and I’m looking forward to coming back and doing another Military Collector show because I want to showcase a special collection that you have.
I’m just telling you, he has a military vehicle, wheeled vehicle collection that’s really unmatched in these parts.
He’s got a John Deere tractor collection, ok, I know it’s not military but it’s just about the passion of collection.
Plus, he’s got a museum over there of all of his wild animals that just is unmatched, mostly, by any museum around the country and it is absolutely superb.
And we’re going to showcase that on a later episode of Military Collectors.
Join us, we’ll be right back here again next week with another episode of Military Collectors.