Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
At the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, Arkansas, groups can delve into the fascinating background of one of the world’s most legendary musicians. Before he became the Man in Black, Johnny Cash grew up in a poor farming community known as the Dyess Colony, an agricultural resettlement colony created by the government during the Roosevelt administration to help destitute farmers recover from the Great Depression.
“His concern for his fellow man, for family and the downtrodden — all of those are values that were shaped there in Dyess,” said Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University.
Guests can watch an orientation video about the restoration of Cash’s home in the visitors center, then head to the administration building next door to browse exhibits on the history of the Dyess Colony. From there, visitors can take a shuttle bus to the Cash family home about two miles away. The home has been lovingly restored and refurnished to represent how it looked when the Cash family lived there; displayed there are period furniture and household items, as well as a few original artifacts, such as an afghan Cash’s mother made, his father’s shaving mug and the beloved Cash family piano. After working in the field, the family would often gather around the piano in the evening to sing hymns, instilling in Cash an early love of music.
“People often walk out with the comment ‘So now I know where his music came from,’” said Hawkins. “You can feel his presence in the house and really get a sense of what shaped him.”
Paul W. Bryant Museum
It has been 35 years since football coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant passed away, but his legacy remains stronger than ever. In addition to holding the record for national championship titles, Bryant inspired many players and fans beyond the field with his fierce determination and strength of character.
“He taught them to value hard work, that nothing good comes without the sacrifice of your time and effort,” said Ken Gaddy, director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum at the University of Alabama. “His influence on players and fans is his real legacy.”
Bryant earned the nickname Bear during his teenage years when he agreed to wrestle a bear from a traveling circus. After playing football at the University of Alabama, he went on to lead the collegiate football programs at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M. He eventually returned to his alma mater in 1958, where he established an illustrious 25-year career as head coach of the Crimson Tide, winning six national championships and 15 conference championships. When he retired in 1982, he held the record for season wins with 323 victories. He passed away at the age of 69 from a heart attack, just one month after coaching his final game. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Bryant the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Football fans can learn more about Bryant’s enduring achievements at the Bryant museum. The museum pays homage to Bryant through detailed exhibits on the history of Alabama college football and artistic tributes to his memory, such as a Waterford crystal replica of Bryant’s iconic houndstooth hat. Groups can also step inside a re-creation of Bryant’s office and watch recorded interviews of former players describing their personal experiences with the coach.