Christmas comes to Tupelo museum

TUPELO – Christmases past, present and future all have a place at the Oren Dunn City Museum this holiday season.
The past is easy because the staff has dug into its permanent collection for toys that entertained kids in days gone by.
“We’ve brought out our three dollhouses, which we only bring out this time of year for people to enjoy,” said Kenneth McGehee, curator. “We don’t know anything about their history. If somebody knows, we’d be glad to listen.”
There’s a log cabin, a schoolhouse and a general store. They’re sitting next to a display of toys that were built at Tupelo’s Rich Toys factory.
“They came to Tupelo in 1953 with help from the Community Development Foundation to broaden the industrial base,” McGehee said. “They were in operation until 1962, when a big flood wiped out their facility.”
The exhibit includes a Western-themed guitar, a bowling game called Skill-Ball, and hobby horses.
“It’s hard to find a lot of Rich Toys, because they were made to be played, used and abused,” McGehee said.
Over the summer, he gave a lecture about Rich Toys at a convention, and he’ll deliver it at 2 p.m. Dec. 30 in the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Conference Room at Ballard Park. Everyone’s invited to the free event.

Waste not
As for Christmases present and future, the museum is featuring “I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas,” a display with tips on how to have a more eco-friendly holiday.
McGehee suggests using recycled wrapping paper, bags and bows. You also can use fabric bags for gifts, or wrap presents with newspaper, old Christmas cards, posters and calendars.
Instead of buying something new, consider giving away antiques or collectibles. A gift also could be as simple as a pass for a free raked yard.
As you consider ways to cut out waste and consumerism from your holiday, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will be broadcast on a television.
“The cartoon addresses some of the same issues,” he said. “The commercialism of Christmas is something we don’t have to be part of if we don’t want to be.”

Before and after
In addition to the seasonal exhibits, you’ll find plenty of items from Lee County’s past on display.
Both the Oren Dunn City Museum and the Tupelo Veterans’ Museum will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but they’ll be open for business before and after the big days.
“If you get tired of hanging around the house,” he said, “bring your family to the museum.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

More info
“I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas,” this year’s holiday exhibit at the Oren Dunn City Museum focusing on Rich Toys Revisited and Sustainable Eco-Friendly Celebration Ideas, will be on display until Saturday, Jan. 9. Exhibit times are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $3 adults; $2 senior citizens; $1.50 ages 3 to 12; free children younger than 3. (662) 841-6438.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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