Cash family, select audience views major Historic Dyess Colony renovation

Published: Apr. 25, 2014 at 11:21 PM CDT
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DYESS, AR (KAIT) - People from Region 8 and beyond welcomed home the Cash family Friday.

 The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and Administration Building in Dyess were open for the first time to a select audience.

Johnny's siblings, Joanne and Tommy Cash, said they could not be more honored that so many people worked hours, weeks and months to bring their home back to life.

"I'm speechless," Joanne Cash said. "There's no words to put together to express how we feel. It's like going back in time. They say you can't go back, but Tommy and I have been able to go back today."

Tommy and Joanne are not the only ones who can take a trip down memory lane. People from around the world will be able to read, listen and look at this Dyess history when the buildings open to the public Aug. 16. 

"To use this building again is very interesting and very important," Tommy Cash said.

"Johnny Cash fans seeing where he grew up, how he grew up, his home place," Mayor Larry Sims said. "We want to tell that hard work story, not just Johnny Cash's success story. Johnny grew up working hard just like everybody else did so he knew what it was."

However, Johnny Cash fans will learn about more than their hero.

"It's not just Johnny Cash," Sims said. "It's the Depression era, people, the federal government helped out, the president helped out. Eleanor Roosevelt gave a speech right there on the steps in front of the Administration Building."

Mayor Sims said the city, the Cash family, Arkansas State University and members of the Region 8 community put everything into these projects: money, time and effort.

Mayor Sims said the only thing he is worried about now is being able to accommodate all of the extra visitors these attractions will bring. They predict anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people within the next year.

"We get people from all over the world here looking for Johnny Cash, his house," Sims said. "It's just amazing. I think it's going to bring a lot of revenue, a lot of interest, a lot of everything to town."

Mayor Sims and the Cash family said they could not be more pleased with how the renovations look.

"You couldn't ask for anything any better," Sims said. "It meant a lot to that family."

"It's almost surreal," Tommy said. "It looks just like it did when mom and daddy lived back there in the 30s, 40s and 50s."

"I know mom and daddy would be so blessed and Johnny would be overwhelmed like we are," Joanne said. "Thank you so much."

The VIP inspection tour Friday was an invitation-only preview before the grand opening Aug. 16.

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