Watch Johnny Cash Visit His Childhood Home Just Before it Was Renovated For Public Tours
In 1935 times were very bad in Dyess, Arkansas. The Great Depression had gripped America but hit the cotton growing share croppers of Dyess especially hard. President Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs brought some relief to the area, and one of FDR's plans in particular was the "Dyess Colony Project".
Under this operation, 500 of the most needy farm families could buy a 20 acre farm, complete with a new five room house (with a "potential" bathroom) for nothing down and a very low interest rate. Johnny was just three years old when the family, including Johnny, his father Ray, mother Carrie and six brothers and sisters, walked up a dirt road to take possession of their new home at plot # 266 of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration Dyess Colony. His mother was so happy she sat down in the bare living room floor and cried.
Johnny lived in the wooden house from age three through high school. The Cash family left the farm in 1953 and the home that had been kept in immaculate condition by Carrie fell into disrepair. Years passed and Johnny felt a need to take his wife June back to visit his boyhood home.. I'm not sure when this video was recorded but it was sometime after his marriage to June Carter in 1968. Johnny's sister Louise accompanied the pair on this very emotional visit.
The old house continued to sink into disrepair and eventually was purchased, along with the rest of the settlement, by Arkansas State University and restored in 2015. Johnny died in 2003 without ever seeing the reconstructed house. Let's compare the look. Here is the house as it looked when Johnny visited:
and here's the way it looks today, which is a faithful representation of the way it looked when Johnny's family moved in back in 1935:
The house and the nearby recreated town are open to the public, and tours are available.
I can see why the Cash family was so happy to get this house to live in. It looks pretty good to me. Heck, I'd live there now. I wonder if they added the "potential" bathroom? Well, they have had over 70 years to do so.