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Memory collectors

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dick and Minnie Felts loved antiques almost as much as sharing them with the community

Photo by Brooke Ninemire

Garry Williams and Patsy Carroll examine the dozens of horse-drawn plows used during the early 1900s that were collected by their father-in-law and father, respectively, Dick Felts. These and numerous other tools, pieces of furniture and vehicles are all a part of Dick's priceless and varied antiques that will be auctioned off during an estate sale Oct. 13.

Taking a visit to the quaint little house located along Hickory Street in Viola is more than just a history lesson; it's an actual experience in history.

The late Dick and Minnie Felts of Viola were collectors -- collectors of everything and anything antique.

What's unique about their vast collection though, is not the amount or even variety of things that they gathered over the years. "The thing about them, they enjoyed their antiques. Dick didn't get things to sale or trade. He used (his antiques) but kept everything in really good shape, too," said Garry Williams as he walked throughout his late in-laws home.

The day after Dick and Minnie married in December 1931, the couple took a crosscut saw into the woods and sawed the logs that they used to build their first 12-foot by 24-foot home. While walking around Dick's barn, Garry pointed to an old crosscut saw like they used for their first home. "I don't know it for sure, but Dick's told me the story many times," he said referring to his in-laws first home. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was that saw."

Garry said Dick and Minnie lived locally their whole lives. He said they lived in Viola for years while Dick worked with the Arkansas State Highway Department.

They moved to Glencoe in 1972, and Dick retired in 1976. In 1985, the couple headed home to Viola where they lived the remainder of their lives.

"What they've kept up with is amazing. I bet you'll see some stuff today that you've never seen or even heard of," Garry said, as he began the trek throughout decades worth of possessions.

Garry was right.

Among the Felts collection -- hundreds of tools from the early 1900s and some that dated back to the 1880s; hundreds of Model A and Model T car parts; dozens of old horse collars and horse drawn plows; and a working, wooden pea sheller and cornmeal grinder from before the 1920s.

The family still uses the cornmeal grinder. "Our family gets together and we use (the cornmeal grinder). It's something for us to do together and remember them," said the Felts' daughter Patsy Carroll.

The also have two horse buggies in excellent condition. One of the buggies, called a doctor's buggy, dates back to the late 1800s and still has the original iron tires.

But among Dick's antiques, his favorite was his early Model A Ford, Garry said.

Dick found the car in an unsightly condition under a tree just outside of Viola. The seats were dilapidated, and the vehicle was full of trash, sticks and pack rats and their nests.

Dick paid the owner $150 and restored the vehicle to its former glory. With the exception of new upholstery and tires, the car works like a gem with all of its original equipment.

Though the family is proud and in awe of Dick and Minnie's collection, their children collectively decided there was just too much.

Perryman and Perryman Auction Company will be holding an estate auction at the house Oct. 13. "It's going to be hard to watch it all go. But we've (each of her four siblings) gone through and gotten some things that are special to us," Patsy said. "But still, I've got a lot of memories of my parents with this stuff."

Garry said Dick was generous with his collection and expected everyone to take the Model A for a drive.

He said Dick never worried about someone wrecking the car. "Oh, Dick would just say, 'Well, good thing it's already paid for,'" Garry laughed.

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