Mississippi’s first car museum celebrated
By Bob Arnold
Wesson Chamber of Commerce members and folk from around the community helped Brian and Mandy King officially open Mississippi’s first antique vehicles museum at a special ribbon cutting.
The ceremony culminated almost three years of work by the Kings, collecting early Twentieth Century cars, trucks and other vintage items and constructing the display building for the Good Old Days Museum located at 4179 Anderson Road in rural Wesson.
Although the new museum started out as storage building for Brian King’s car collection, which his wife first jokingly suggest might well be a museum, it realizes a long-standing dream of King, an electrician at the Brookhaven Aptiv plant and a mechanic who is passionate about early automotive vehicles and is attracted to the period in history in which they were introduced when times were simpler and craftsmanship valued.
Inside and outside the 40-foot x 80-foot metal structure are a variety of functional and drivable antique vehicles, including four Model Ts, first sold in 1908, a 1929 Model A, a 1919 Dodge pickup with a moonshine still in the bed, and a 1922 Roadster. They must be hand-cranked and have more complex transmissions than cars today, but are easier to work on. Interspersed with them are an old hearse, an 1868 rockaway carriage, some of the first gas pumps, antique plows and farm equipment, a pot belly wood stove, an old record player with a horn speaker, early household appliances, furniture pieces and clothing. The facade of an old general store and blacksmith shop and the interior of an old western saloon decorate the walls. It all creates a 1920s America look that sets the antique cars in scenes appropriate for their times.
“It’s largely about vehicles, but most car museums are sterile and boring,” says King. “So we’re complementing them with other items and décor that recall the Good Old Days.”
Before the museum commanded their attention, King and his wife expressed their passion for art and set design building up and maintaining a local Halloween tradition on their Anderson Road property -- Silent Oaks Cemetery, a family friendly mock graveyard haunted with visiting ghosts from a mausoleum, vaults, tombstones, crypts and the shaft of a mine where workers died in an explosion from which smoke is still wafting.
“The work to complete the museum this year kept our Halloween display on hold, but we will bring it back next year on the museum property,” the Kings promise.
In opening the new museum, the Kings singled out the special assistance and support of Kirk and Rita Hill, an older couple who helped generate donations of cars and other items, and encouraged them in pursuing their project. King considers Kirk a mentor who “stepped up and filled a hole when my parents died.” “We talk on the phone several times a day,” he says. “I don’t know what I would do without him.”
The Kings say they envision constant change and growth at Good Old Days Museum with expansion of space to accommodate display items still in storage and material and monetary donations which they hope will continue to sustain it. Initially, the museum will be open free to visitors on Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For information about the museum and help with its needs, call 601-669-0860.