OC Museum board member reminisces as closure draws near
Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 5:00 pm
By KATIE DONALDSON
With completion of Discovery Park of America drawing closer, plans for the exhibits and a classroom cause an Obion County Museum board member to reminisce about the past.
Former art teacher Marti Eakin Doss began working with the museum in 1970 after The Messenger’s David Critchlow Sr. asked her to help. She joined the museum board of directors in 1971. The board soon gained former chairman David Bartholomew and former executive director R.C. Forrester.
They bought the building, located at 1004 Edwards St. in Union City, in 1986. First a church and later a childcare business, the building came with its quirks. The new owners were excited about the purchase until they inspected the toilets.
“We were delighted to find adequate restrooms only to discover the toilets were ‘miniature’ — several inches lower than adult size,” Mrs. Doss said.
There Mrs. Doss helped organize artifacts people donated. She also built and arranged exhibits on old glass counters.
“Every time we tried to move them, one of us would go through the end glass, no matter how careful we were,” Doss said. “Thank goodness for plastic today.”
Mrs. Doss remembers the first displays, including one which one of her students painted of Reelfoot Lake on plywood panels.
“Of the many displays done, I loved the wildlife exhibit,” she said.
They added paper maché rocks, mirror water, grass and rushes to the display. They fastened ducks, geese and owls to the panels and stuck deer, beavers, foxes, bobcats, groundhogs, snakes, turtles, frogs and many other animals in the grass and rocks.
Mrs. Doss said the exhibit intrigued children and adults. Many spent time walking back and forth past the exhibit and pointing out different species.
“We always left it up longer than planned because of the interest,” Mrs. Doss said. “This display was built several times over the years and the panels are still in use.”
She also recalled a program called “Long Shadows” that Forrester promoted in 1988. It depicted Civil War time and featured an art show, old films, posters and artifacts from that period.
“I learned so much,” Mrs. Doss said about working with Forrester.
The museum started with the McNatt Collection in 1970 when the museum was located at the Obion County Fairgrounds. Some of these artifacts will be placed in the DPA Enlightenment gallery.
These artifacts include early kitchen items and barn tools along with a homemade snowshoe, homemade musical instruments, clay jugs, juggling pins, a doctor’s bag and skull, vases and clay elephants.
The museum also received a knife shop from the late Pete Harmond of Union City in 1970. Photographs of Harmond making his Jim Bowie knife will be featured in the Enlightment gallery.
Aside from his knives, Harmond created an Indian costume the museum received. OCCHS students built a paper mache Indian to wear the costume in 1974. The figure will make an appearance at DPA.
“His molten feathers have been replaced, and he is ready to move into the Discovery Center,” Mrs. Doss said.
Future students will get to enjoy the Indian along with the new classroom being constructed at DPA. Art classes will continue to be offered at the museum, but they will use the new DPA classroom when time is available.
Despite their location, classes will continue to “use a wide variety of mediums and provide much fun” as they have for past years.
Messenger intern Katie Donaldson is a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Published in The Messenger 6.28.12