Archive for April, 2016

Johnny Cash and More…

History and Hidden Treasures in Arkansas including the Johnny Cash boyhood home.

I should probably start with the current exhibit “The Open Road” now featured at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Okay, I will … yes I will because it’s a perfect segue to my past week of travels in Arkansas.  Johnny Cash fits nicely along with several other interesting and historic stops along my route.


For Arkansans, this is a “must see”.  For others, this is definitely a “should see”.  With more than 100 images from 19 photographers on the move across America from the 1950’s to today, one is mesmerized by the reminders of times past culturally, racially and economically.  For anyone who has ever taken a trip and still holds on to a box of old photos, this exhibit is amazing. Here is a quote from Jacob Holdt:


Here is another describing the work of Robert Frank:


Next stop … Wilson, Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has provided funding for a much needed upgrade to the Hampson Archeological Museum and State Park where a vast nationally renowned collection of Dr. James Hampson is displayed.


Wilson is a small East Arkansas Delta farm town. The last thing one would expect to find is English Tudor architecture.  What a special treat to see this small village with so much character and history.  In addition to the unique flavor of architecture, I was treated to a flavorful lunch in the Wilson Cafe and Tavern.  Owners, Joe Cartwright and Shari Haley, have put together a restaurant and menu that would fit perfectly in the Heights Neighborhood of Little Rock.  Check out the bowl of soup pictured below.



Johnny Cash and Dyess in just a minute … First the Parkin Archeological State Park …

My thanks to park staff, especially Mel Harvey, for showing me around.  Of particular interest to me and other State Parks Commissioners was the archeological dig going on behind Mel on a prominent Indian mound.  There is speculation remnants of a buried wooden cross may date back to around 1541 and have some significant connection to the Spanish Hernando de Soto expedition.




Finally … Johnny Cash and The Historic Dyess Colony …

Just as the pictures at Crystal Bridges tell a visual story of America, hopefully a few of my pictures will capture enough of the history of the Dyess Colony and how Johnny Cash came to have his boyhood home on a farm in Eastern Arkansas.

In brief, the Dyess Colony was established as a Federal agricultural resettlement community. The Cash family along with about 500 colonist families moved to homes and farms in the 1930’s as part of the WPA under Franklin D. Roosevelt.



Below, farm number 266 was the Cash Family land …


When I arrived at the Administration Center I was warmly toured by Tim and then greeted by my friend, Ruth Hawkins from Arkansas State University … Ruth has been one of the constant figures in the planning and development of the Dyess Colony museum and the Johnny Cash home restoration. I saw the pictures of Johnny as a child, toured the theater, saw the old projector and the use of flooring from the gym where Johnny danced … now used as ceiling and wall decor.



But … I came to see the home … the home of the Iconic Johnny Cash!

As Tim drove me out to the farm we passed wide open farm land and I guess I was prepared to do a “ho hum” and head for Little Rock.  Well, I was absolutely spellbound when we arrived, walked up the sidewalk and stepped inside.  Here was the ghost of history … the ghost of the depression and yes, the ghost of The Man in Black.  It was almost a religious experience as I walked thru the small home of the family and the man that is so much a part of America’s struggles as well as our faith and our grit.  I am so thankful to have seen it and that it is being preserved for all.




Closing thoughts …

Even though this post is rather lengthy,  I have barely touched the surface in describing these Arkansas treasures.  I hope you will google and visit our wonderful attractions, State Parks and natural beauty.  Speaking of natural beauty, I love the flowering roads of our state this time of year … Get out and see them for yourself!!




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