by Max Brantley
I made a passing reference the other day to a Johnny Cash museum mentioned in the legislature's division of the general improvement fund for local projects. That's the pork barrel created from surplus money.
I was just engaging in a little drive-by blogging. Johnny Cash is fine by me. But Sen. Steve Bryles wanted to explain further the roots of his work for this appropriation, including by supplying a link to a Cash video. It includes film of Cash's boyhood home in Dyess, where a New Deal government aid project (its administration building is shown in photo above) is the focus of the proposed project to be overseen by Arkansas State University. Read on:
FROM SEN. STEVE BRYLES
RE: Your mention of the "Johnny Cash museum"
Brummett inquired last week and I've posted my reply below. You might visit with Dr. Ruth Hawkins for more information. She and ASU have broad discretion as to how to proceed. I did it at their request and because I agree it's worth considering -- as an addition to their Delta Heritage Initiative. Should've been more clear with the language by mentioning Dyess and the Depression-era relocation settlement. If if happens, it'll be much more than a museum featuring Cash.
Thanks for the attention.
There is an important piece of our nation's history that took place in the area of Mississippi County that became Dyess Colony.
From the Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance website: The New Deal-era Dyess Colony project was one of the earliest Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Works Progress Administration undertakings in Arkansas. The colony was designed as "an experiment in permanent reestablishment of the independent farmer" and was soon replicated across the country as part of Roosevelt's New Deal programs.
The fact that a cultural icon like Johnny Cash grew up there adds even greater significance to the history.
Dr. Ruth Hawkins heads the Delta Heritage Initiative at Arkansas State. She shepherds projects like the Lakeport Plantation in Chicot Co., the Hemingway/Pfeifer Project in Piggott and the Southern Tennant Farmers Union Museum in Tyronza in Poinsett Co.
I expect Dyess Colony can be added to this worthwhile group of historically significant projects. The GIF money goes to ASU to help offset the cost of developing a plan to begin to move to that end. No guarantee.
This links to Johnny Cash video of song "Hurt" that he covered a year or two before his death. It's a "Nine Inch Nails" tune--whoever they are. Contains interesting footage of the "Dyess" home shot in late 1960's. Also has footage of his Nashville area "museum" the "House of Cash." (It closed in the early 80's) Interesting if you haven't seen it.