With great interest I listened to Dr. Ruth Hawkins' presentation last Thursday, regarding Arkansas State University's efforts to renovate the boyhood home of legendary performer Johnny Cash at Dyess. Dyess is just 10 miles south of my old stomping grounds in Osceola in Mississippi County, Arkansas.
With great interest I listened to Dr. Ruth Hawkins' presentation last Thursday, regarding Arkansas State University's efforts to renovate the boyhood home of legendary performer Johnny Cash at Dyess. Dyess is just 10 miles south of my old stomping grounds in Osceola in Mississippi County, Arkansas. I must admit that until I met Joyce I was not all that familiar with Cash's music but I was familiar with his Mississippi County roots. I have since come to admire the “Man in Black” and recognize him as one of the greatest musical performers and entertainers in this nation's history. Cash frequently wrote songs about his humble beginnings and his rags to riches story. While he had some problems in his younger days, he eventually became a very humble man, proud of his upbringing and roots. When completed, the ASU Cash project should be a great Arkansas tourist attraction. There are probably almost as many Johnny Cash fans around as there are Elvis followers. And like “The King” of rock and roll, Cash's music will continue to live on and on generations from now. I look forward to visiting the site in the near future. ASU has tentative hopes to complete the renovation of the home, the community's old administration building and movie-theater, sometime in 2014. Despite having been born and raised in Mississippi County, I must confess that I have only set foot in the tiny hamlet of Dyess one time, back in the early 1980s. At the time, I was a cub reporter for my hometown newspaper, The Osceola Times. I was assigned to cover a city council meeting there. I don't recall what was on the agenda but I do know their city government consisted of some of the warmest, friendliest people I have ever met. The Cash family is quite excited about the project. Cash's offspring Roseanne Cash and John Carter Cash and two of his surviving siblings, brother Tommy and sister Joanne Cash Yates are serving as consultants on the project. The project has stirred family memories of growing up in what was referred to as Dyess Colony right in the middle of the “Great Depression.” Yates was quoted as saying, “Daddy worked hard. Everybody had a job to do. I have compared our family life to the TV program “The Waltons”, except they had a larger house. Growing up on the farm, going to the Dyess Central Baptist Church, praying about everything, singing in the cotton fields, singing at night when we would come home after supper and after the dishes were washed.” Fortunately, I am not quite old enough to remember the days of “The Great Depression.” But lately, I seem to be drawn to that era of America's history. My mom told me a lot of stories about growing up in the late 1920s and early 1930s but not nearly enough. I wish she were still around so I could pick her brain about those bygone days. I currently watch “The Waltons” with great interest. They remind me of things Mom used to tell me about when she was growing up. From all indications, there must have been an awful lot of family love back then because there simply weren't very many material things to get in the way. One thing I have learned from Mom and “The Waltons” is that love is so powerful that not even death can separate us. Mom's values and love of family has been handed down to another generation. Hopefully, my family and my brother's family have kept the bright flame of love glowing for yet another generation. Good night Johnny. Goodnight Momma.