Dan in Detail

updated 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

WILLIAM R. KING DOES NOT HAVE A museum named for him. Neither do Levi Morton or Garrett Hobart. After all, they were just Vice Presidents of the United States—they served their terms, then disappeared from the pages of history. Even better known Vice Presidents, like Alben Barkley, Hubert Humphrey or Nelson Rockefeller, don't have them. In fact, of all the Vice Presidents—the ones who never went on to the No. 1 job, that is—only one has his name on a museum. That institution, in Huntington, Ind., is dedicated to the life and times, the shining legacy of...drumroll, please...J. Danforth Quayle.

True, there are people out there who might quibble about whether Quayle, late of the Bush Administration, has the stature to be the first second banana so honored. Huntington resident Carol Yeiter, a visitor to the museum, is not one of them. "If he was so dumb and stupid, how did he get to be Vice President and have a nice museum like this?" she demands. "He's as smart as anyone."

As if to prove just that point, the museum, located in a former church and unofficially open since June, has some of Quayle's grade-school report cards, with an impressive number of A's and B's—although a teacher did note that he "talks at table."

The museum, which is supported by private donations and will have its formal, Dan-attended ribbon cutting in October, contains countless other nuggets of Quayleana. Revealing boyhood moments are captured in snapshots of Dan at the dentist, Dan on a horse, Dan with his high school golf team, and 10-month-old Dan in his pajamas on Christmas Day, 1947.

One of the most popular items is Quayle's Indiana University Law School degree with the edge chewed up by Barnaby, the family dog. "Marilyn was aghast," says museum board member David Schenkel, "and gave Barnaby away."

Because of space limitations, only 100 of the 11,000 items donated by the Quayle family and friends are on display, with the overflow stored in a warehouse. The museum owns none of the vice presidential papers, which are destined for the yet-to-be-built George Bush presidential library.

No matter. Museumgoers are more interested in the individual than in the public servant. "I've known Dan Quayle since he was 1—he is a fine young man," says Janet Hafner, who works the cash register, selling official Dan Quayle Center and Museum refrigerator magnets and T-shirts. "I bought a Dan Quayle T-shirt and wore it to bed last night."

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