Johnny Cash's childhood home now open as tourist attraction

By Benjamin Mazzara,

Johnny Cash’s childhood home in Dyess, Arkansas has now been opened to the pubic as a tourist attraction.

Called “The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home,” Arkansas State University’s newest Heritage site will be open for public tours after a large restoration project that took place which repaired Cash’s home along with several other houses in the neighborhood.

The home attempts to capture the feeling of the 1930s in which Cash lived, and even includes cultural artifacts like Cash’s mother’s piano, his father’s shaving mug, and the house’s original flooring, including the burn marks on the linoleum from the wood-burning stove. While the home had a toilet and a sink, the home had no running water and no electricity until 1945.

As Ruth Hawkins, director of the Heritage Site program, told CNN, most of the other furniture in the house are not original pieces, but objects of the time donated by others.

According to the News Observer, Hawkins also noted that, "restoring the Dyess Colony Administration Building, and even saving at least one of the typical colony houses, would have been a worthwhile project, even without the Johnny Cash connection."

The project is being used to illustrate the life in Dyess during the Great Depression. Hawkins does admit, however, that without the Johnny Cash connection, "the project would not have gotten anywhere near the public support that it has, and it would not be a major tourism draw,"

Hawkins notes that the design and details of the home were based on the pictures and accounts of Cash’s siblings, Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash Yates.

CNN and the News Observer both note that Dyess was a federal agricultural resettlement community that was established in 1934 as part of President’s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Program. More specifically, the Cash family were part of the farmers who successfully applied to the Works Progress Administration program, becoming one of the 487 families to be given land, a mule, and a job during this economic downturn. The Cash family moved to Dyess when Cash was three years old in 1935.

Cash himself noted the influence Dyess had on him and his music, including the song “Five Feet and Rising.” As he told to the Dyess High School reunion in 1990, Cash noted that “the little church in Dyess, Arkansas, has been such an inspiration to me, and (so have) the people from Dyess.”

He also noted in his 1997 autobiography that “Back in Arkansas, a way of life produced a certain kind of music.”

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