Museum volunteers ask: ‘What is it?’

By POLLY SMITH

County Fair Writer

The new Farm Museum at the Huntingdon County Fairgrounds was constructed in 1992 and 10 years later another section was added to it. Every year it is touted across Pennsylvania as one of the finest collections of farm and home memorabilia and yet there are still those who have never stepped foot inside it.

“We find that so hard to believe,” says Denny Long, president of the museum’s board of directors.

“It is well publicized every year and for those who have not seen it, just as many have,” according to Barb McMath, who co-founded the original museum with her late husband, E. James McMath.

The Farm Museum is open free and informally to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays during the late spring and summer months and then when the fair opens (this year Sunday, Aug. 9) admission to this huge antiques collection of country life from days gone by is the $5 cost at the gate.

‘What is it?’

Visitors are invited to pay particular attention to a table with items displayed with this tag: “What is it?” Museum friends, such as Denny and Sharon Long and Ron and Dixie Enyeart, enjoy going to estate sales to purchase antiques. Sometimes they will buy a piece with no identification – like a certain wooden device, which was placed on the “what is it?” table.

Last year, her friends and former classmates, Betty Norris and Nancy Greene, recruited Jan Reahm of Walker Township to join the Farm Museum family. A computer literate senior citizen, Reahm has found her niche with finding identities for the unknowns. She searches the “Net” to get her answers and keeps in almost daily touch by computer with Greene, the museum chief inventory specialist who resides in Delaware.

Yes, state residency is not a requirement to be part of this lively group!

Reahm tells her story about her first “find” with the museum: She was looking at Country magazine while waiting at the doctor’s office. She spied a photo of a wooden piece, similar to the Enyearts’ find, and copied the name of the woman who placed it there. Marjorie Morrow of the state of Indiana had 500 responses to her question about the piece, including Reahm’s inquiry. The elderly woman told Reahm the identity of the museum piece – a gout stool – after some correspondence (Morrow uses snail mail) and the two women became friends. Reahm and her daughter visited Morrow on their way to visit a relative in the Midwest.

“I gained the answer to my question and a new friend,” Reahm said.

She has listed some items in Farm and Tractor magazine, as well as Country, and hopes to get some more answers. She also hopes they will learn about some of the pieces during fair week.

From grandfather to grandkids

One of the museum’s latest acquisitions is a late 1800s child’s wagon with bark trough. It was cut down from a larger wagon, which had been built by Henry Anderson who had served in the U.S. Cavalry. Anderson used it mainly as a toy for his grandchildren. Grandson Clyde Garner played with it as a child. He later bought it from another person and restored it.

Joseph Baney and Linda Myers have donated the wagon to the Farm Museum in memory of her grandparents, M. Clyde and Olive (Norris) Garner.

The current inventory numbers over 5,000, making it one of the largest displays of farm, industry and home antiques managed by fair volunteers in Pennsylvania. Everything is well protected for those who wish to temporarily place an item on display.

The museum is wheelchair accessible and there are always friendly greeters waiting to answer questions.

Vying for ribbons

The general public enters antique farm tractors, trucks and cars (up to 1950) to compete for the best of show rosette, ribbons and cash premiums. These and some of the museum’s stock pieces are driven in the parade at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, which is Senior Citizens Day at the fair.