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Former county historian makes ‘miniature’ donation to museum

Former county historian makes ‘miniature’ donation to museum

Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 9:22 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor

By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
R.C. Forrester of Union City knows a little bit about history.
He was the Obion County historian for more than 30 years and served on the Obion County Museum board for 20 years-plus. He has also found time to write a dozen books — some historical in character and focusing on the county he calls home and on Reelfoot Lake; others of poetry; and some of short story collections — including one of the latter aimed at children.
He has also lived surrounded by personal history for many years and now he is sharing some of the items with the most endearing childhood memories attached to them from his collection.
Forrester has donated several toys to the Obion County Museum with the understanding that they will be moved to Discovery Park of America when it is completed. Once housed there, they may well be listed as a part of the Exploration Committee’s inventory, although they could be placed in a section focusing on agriculture, transportation or regional history. The Exploration Committee has as its assignment collecting items to stimulate the imagination and enrich the education of children visiting the museum. Items from its collection, therefore, will find homes throughout the museum so children can discover and enjoy them in a variety of settings while their parents peruse other displays.
Forrester’s donations, however, are guaranteed to win fans of every age — appealing to children from 1-100.
The most intriguing items in the collection are eight cast-iron farm implements dating from the 1930s and ’40s. Most of the “working parts” toys were produced by Bindex and are replicas of John Deere equipment. One is a Hubley™ tractor, but it is probably not as old as the John Deere models. While its provenance has not been definitely established, it sports plastic wheels, unlike the metal-wheeled John Deere toys, and this marks it as a more recently manufactured unit.
Three generations of Forrester boys have played with the toys which first appeared as eye-catching display pieces at the former Forrester Motor Co., which was owned and operated in this area by the late Reb Forrester, R.C. Forrester’s father. The sturdy toys have withstood the attention of R.C., also known as “Rebel,”  his son and his grandchildren and have only a little chipped paint to show for it all. According to an appraiser, the value of the combine, horse and wagon, grain drill and tractors has hardly been changed at all by the slightly marred paint job.
“It just seemed logical to donate them to the museum,” Forrester, who was about 7 years old when he was granted the privilege of taking the first miniature farm implement home to play with, says. “I’m glad to have a place where others can see and enjoy them.”
The ultimate destiny of the toys, as for most all the items currently on display or in storage at the Obion County Museum on Edwards Street in Union City, will be the museum building of the 50-acre, multi-million dollar education-entertainment-tourism complex across Everett Boulevard from Union City Second Baptist Church. Discovery Park of America is the dream of Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland of Union City, who are financing a major portion of it through their family foundation.
Architects and display planners, along with botanical garden designers, will be returning to Union City in mid-May with some specific plans for the project. The projected time line shows dirt work beginning in late summer in earnest, with “bricks laid” for the museum building itself in the spring of 2011 and an opening date of late 2012.
Published in The Messenger 4.27.10

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