Saturday, August 29, 2009

Photo Exhibit at the Museum

The Mulberry Band, May 1912

I visited the Siloam Springs Museum this afternoon in order to view a new exhibit: "Photographs of Siloam Springs at the Turn of the Century, During the Roaring 20's and During the Hungry Years." All of the photographs in this collection are from the private collection of local resident Don Cundiff. I am familiar with Mr. Cundiff only through his frequent and spirited letters to the editor of the Herald Leader, and it is evident through those letters and his thirty year hobby of collecting Siloam Springs photos and memorabilia that he has a great passion for our city.

I really enjoyed the exhibit. I never tire of seeing glimpses into Siloam's history, and coming face to face with the generations of people who have made their home here. I love to recognize familiar buildings and landmarks, and to be reminded of the past.
The exhibit is divided into several categories: the 1900's, the Roaring 20's, and the 30's 40's and 50's. My favorite photo in the 1900's case was one featuring some banners hanging over a downtown business with the slogans, " The People Have Caught On" and "The Smile That Won't Rub Off." Those would be appropriate for today's downtown spirit as well, I think. I also liked a photo of a baptism taking place in the creek- it might be in the area behind the gazebo. Wouldn't it be neat to see something like that in Sager Creek today? And speaking of gazebos- I was impressed by a photo of a two story gazebo that once ruled over City Park. The caption mentioned that it hadn't lasted long. I wonder why? You can get a glimpse of the short-lived structure in the photo below:

The Roaring 20's display featured an interesting note about the Gay-Ola Bottling & Ice Cream Company that operated on Jefferson Street (east of Washington) from 1920-1926-ish. I'd never heard of this former Siloam business. They made Gay-Ola Delaware punch and "all flavors of soda water and kindred beverages" as well as Quality brand ice cream.

The 30's 40's & 50's display had some interesting photos of what appeared to be storm damage, with an uprooted tree laying on top of someone's porch. There were pictures of the former city pool, and some enjoyable Homecoming snapshots. There was also a small collection of photos of KUOA staff and on-air personalities, including "the Old Scotchman" in his kilt. Huh?

As if whiling away a peaceful hour in the museum wasn't enough fun, Cynthia Lee, museum hostess extraordinnaire, treated me to the VIP tour that included the museum basement and glimpses of the archives. There were numerous historic artifacts, including some awesome soap box race cars, and I also saw what can only be referred to as "the Bride of Frankenstein." I can say no more.

The photo exhibit will be on display through October 31. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10-5. Other upcoming museum events include: an Autumn walking tour of the Historic district on September 12th, the Annual Historic Homes Tour fundraiser on October 1oth, and the museum's 40th Anniversary birthday bash at the museum on November 14th at 2:00. For more information about these and other museum programs, call 524-4011.

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