September 22, 2023 at 9:05 a.m.

Yellow Trail Museum, One of the Best Small-Town Museums Even has an Interactive Model of the Town of Hope in the 30s & 40s

By DAVID WEBSTER | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The Hope Yellow Trail Museum undoubtedly is one of the best small-town museums around. It is due to the efforts of many people within the community over the years. From its humble beginning, it has become quite the community gem. Within it, there is much history, even a remarkable research center. Visitors only express praise while walking through and experiencing each well-thought-out area.

One of several items that sets the Yellow Trail Museum apart from other small museums is the Interactive Town of Hope Model. It started as a intricate model created by Ike Wasson of the town businesses in the 30s and 40s. Tim Thayer was the N scale engineer and Ben Miller created the glass case enclosure with their expertise being quite apparent when viewing the model. It was displayed several places throughout the town before its final resting spot in the museum. (If you ever had the honor of shaking Ike's hand, you would wonder how he could possibly work on such a delicate project. He spent hours on the model in his home instead of his workshop so that he could keep an eye on his wife, Lavon, who was recovering from surgery.)

I approached Barb Johnson, well-known Hope teacher and local history enthusiast, about doing a CD incorporating information from Ike and Merrill Clouse related to each building around the square during that time period. The Town of Hope was willing to provide funding for Darrell Patterson, Shady Land Studio of North Vernon, to make a master CD and for Dove Enterprises in Ohio to provide multiple CDS to be sold in support of the museum.

I will never forget the recording session in the museum as Ike and Merrill shared invaluable details about each business as Barb and I facilitated the discussion. Trucks rumbled by on State Road 9, which presented some recording challenges, but which also gave us a refreshing sense that Hope, unlike other small towns, had life. During the conversation, I found the number of grocery stores, beauty parlors, doctors, and even liquor stores surprising, all which initiated other stories and laughter. (There were a few stories we could not include in the final master.)

Later, Barb and I felt we should take the project to the next step involving even more technology, one with pictures and sound. Once again, the Hope Town Council was willing to provide funding for Ben Cleland, Hauser graduate and Digital Engagement Strategist for Hamilton, to take the lead with his expertise. Ben requested Barb and I compile folders with pictures related to each business and to pull corresponding CD segments while recognizing any audience would struggle maintaining focus on all the information on the CD of 45 tracks. Barb took care of the pictures while I took care of the CD segments, each assigned responsibility requiring many hours. Ben, like Darrell, did a masterful job. If you have not had a chance to check the interactive model out, please do so.

When listening to the CD or viewing and listening to the interactive model, it is always a rather emotional experience, in particular at the end when Barb is thanking Ike and Merrill for their contributions to the project, as well as Hope. Her voice cracks, likely out of respect and thinking they would not be with us much longer, each being older and struggling with health issues. Now, Barb is no longer with us. However, the wonderful spirits of Ike, Merrill, and Barb will always be a special part of Hope, a very special place because of countless individuals like them willing to give whatever is needed to keep our pages turning and to continually celebrate our heritage.