Tribute begins Cash home restoration project
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 14:02
Johnny Cash's friends and family returned to his birthplace, Dyess, on Sunday to take part in a celebration of what would be his 80th birthday and share their memories of the "The Man in Black."
Johnny Cash's daughter, Rosanne, opened the celebration by thanking Ruth Hawkins, director of the ASU Arkansas Heritage Sites, for the organization's work to honor her father.
Rosanne Cash explained how the family moved to the Dyess Colony in 1935 as part of the New Deal program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purpose of the New Deal was to give 500 families each 40 acres of land, one mule and a house.
Cash said she could remember her grandmother telling that when they walked into the house there were five empty paint buckets sitting on the floor and that the house smelled of fresh paint.
Cash recalled her grandmother said it was wonderful to have this new home and that it was more than her grandparents could have imagined.
Johnny Cash's brother and sister, Tommy and Joanne, spoke to the crowd about their many memories of growing up in Dyess. They thanked ASU for restoring the family home and said that soon the old adage "you can't go back home" will be dispelled.
When the restoration is complete, the Cashes noted that they will get to go back to their home just as they knew it, where Cash's mother's piano will sit in the same room where she played for them.
Joanne Cash grew very emotional as she said she could not wait to go back home.
John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash, expressed his gratitude to ASU for the work that had been done and the work yet to come to finish the restoration process. He said it would be an exciting year as they watched the progress.
Dyess Mayor Larry Sims said he was proud of all the hard work that had gone into this special day and it could not have been done without ASU and Hawkins.
Dan Howard, ASU-J interim chancellor, explained how important it is to restore this home and the community buildings to preserve the history of the Dyess Colony.
Hawkins described the restoration plan, which includes the Cash home and the surrounding buildings.
ASU has also purchased the original Dyess Colony Theater built in 1947. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013 at which time the home and theater will be restored to their original form with the addition of a visitor's center, restrooms and parking.
Hawkins noted that Johnny Cash's films with documents from the 1930's collection will be on display in the visitor center. Last year the "Johnny Cash Music Festival" was held as a fundraiser to help with the restoration of the home. Hawkins said donations for the project are welcome.
Mike Gibson, Arkansas Steering Committee co-chair, thanked the board members as well as the Cash Family. Gibson invited the Cash Family members to come to the stage where they unveiled a corner stone from the Cash house, which ASU had engraved: Restoration Established 2012.
In closing, the Cash family sang one of Johnny and June Cash's favorite songs, "Will the Circle be Unbroken."