I’ve been looking forward to Day 18 for a while. Today was the day I got to meet a talented author who has a nostalgia museum in his house. I want to stress what I’ve mentioned in another post, this museum falls into the unique sights category of my trip. After reading one of his books, meeting him, and seeing his house, I do not think Mr. Hollis is tacky or weird or anything like some of my other stops (Roswell Alien Zone). I have a lot of respect for him and am grateful he took the time to share his museum with me.
It was an early start as I had around 380 miles to cover before I got to Mr. Hollis’. He was expecting me between 12:30pm and 1:00pm and I was right on time. I need to describe Mr. Hollis a little before I get to his museum. He embodies the ideal of southern charm and hospitality. My every interaction with him leading up to my visit reassured me that I was welcome at his house. Even the directions to his house that he sent me were warm and inviting. Rather than just giving me an address or street names, he put time into his letter and gave me landmarks to look for. They were extremely helpful.
Mr. Hollis is an editor and prolific writer. I’ve already read one of his books and will be talking about it in tomorrow’s post. I was very excited about the book and had a co-worker read excerpts I found especially funny. I also have another on my dresser waiting for me when I get home (I forgot to bring it and ask for an autograph). I recommend everyone buy one of his books. If not for yourself, I will gladly accept them as Christmas and birthday presents. Or just buy me one because you love me. Cool? Cool.
Mr. Hollis lives in his family home and comes from parents who were also collectors. It may sound like I’m describing a hoarder, but this is a museum in every sense of the word. It is organized, in great condition, and highly interesting. This is going to be a picture heavy post where I’ll do my best to describe what you’re looking at. These photos are just the tip of the iceberg though. The museum is 2 floors and Mr. Hollis wants to share it with anyone interested. If you’d like to visit him, I’m more than happy to put you in contact.
This is Mr. Tim Hollis; collector, writer, puppeteer, gentleman, and lover of nostalgia. Take note of the toothbrush! He is standing in front of the first floor of the museum. The center tables carry displays with a myriad of themes and objects. The outside walls are covered with Little Golden Books, comics, records, and board games.
Mr. Hollis has a passion for writing. It started early and continues to this day. He has a book coming out this year and currently writing another. There are multiple trophies in his basement from writing competitions. When I asked about his high school yearbook, he showed me the drama club page acting out a play he wrote. Below is the first page he typed on his first typewriter. He was 5 years old. Also with it are several cartoons he created as a child that make me think Garbage Pail Kids ripped him off. Wiener the Pooh!
I have to stress I’m showing very little of the museum. I couldn’t possibly take pictures of everything nor would I want to put it all up. I want others to experience it for themselves. I’m sorry about the quality of the pictures. I’ve mentioned before, I need photography lessons. Also there wasn’t enough room for my tripod, so I had to use a flash.
One exhibit I enjoyed was a shelf of vintage bubble bath bottles. I remember getting similar ones as a child. And by that, I mean I got a storm trooper 2 years ago…
There’s a debate as to what Smokey’s full name is. Is he Smokey the Bear or Smokey Bear? Mr. Hollis can answer that question. It’s both! There is enough evidence reaching back that show’s either is correct.
I’ve had many people call me Andy Panda. I never put any thought into it, I just accepted it. I had no clue that Andy Panda was a cartoon character. I feel a bit foolish.
Two diminutive pieces that I thought were great were Oswald and Chilly Willy salt and pepper shakers. They were on a shelf full of objects from that set of cartoon characters.
There are several food themed sections on the lower level. In my early years, I ate a lot of TV dinners. Amazing amounts of sodium have coursed through my heart thanks to Swanson and Tyson. I have a special place in my heart for these old boxes and their art.
While this TraveLodge bear might seem like a kids decoration or cookie jar, it is actually a whiskey decanter. I totally support the idea of giving kids a nip of the stuff to knock them out. I’m also not allowed to babysit.
I had read there was a Halloween wall in the museum. As a lover of the holiday, I was excited to be able to see it. For whatever reason, these old costumes were made to glow under black light. I took 2 pictures. One with the flash so you can see everything, and one without so you can see some of the glowing. I apparently can’t keep steady enough to take a clear picture without the flash.
There was also a large section of Christmas decorations. Most of the photos didn’t turn out well but fortunately the most creepy did! Tell me this reindeer and snow man aren’t Christmas nightmares.
I mentioned earlier that Mr. Hollis also worked as a puppeteer. Specifically he worked for a local children’s act called Cousin Cliff. He has a booming voice that is great for a puppeteer! I wish I could share clips of the show but none seem to exist. Satisfy yourself with some of the puppets, including the large scary one.
While Mr. Hollis is a fantastic writer, we did have a good giggle at his tools. He relies mostly on physical publications for his research and has a large library of nostalgic, pop culture books. Fantastically he also uses a very dated computer. It’s all he needs for word processing and it makes me happy that even his “modern” items are nostalgic.
After my tour, Mr. Hollis and I went to Jack’s for lunch. Jack’s is a local burger chain with loads of history and nostalgic advertising posters. Guess who’s an authority on Jack’s. Mr. Hollis has given and received information and materials with/from Jack’s. The burger I had was great!
I got to speak with Mr. Hollis more about his career and life. He said he can’t write an autobiography because no one would believe all of the roles and jobs he’s had. Seeing all the signed pictures and books everywhere, I hope he changes his mind. I imagine his life would make for a fantastic read.
Mr. Hollis, thank you so much for your time today. I had high expectations for this visit and they were all exceeded. Your museum is unique, beautiful, and a great vault of a hidden history. I can’t wait to return in a few years and see all the new items you’ve found. If I can ever be of help, please contact me. Also I listened to Lucille Ball on XM’s Radio Classics during the drive to my motel. It was great, thanks for the recommendation!
7 thoughts on “Day 18: Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime. – MT”
It sounds like you have enjoyed every step of this journey.
OMG! The bubble bath bottles! I used to love them when I was kid and after they were empty, you could play with them!! I had a quite a few…..I guess I took a lot of baths as a kid!
I dare say you have discovered that Mr. Hollis is the true “Treasure” in that house. He has tirelessly compiled and preserved childhood memories for countless Birmingham area residents and ‘kids’ of all ages.
I hope you enjoyed your visit to Alabama and will return to experience our Southern hospitality again very soon.
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Everyone was so nice and Mr. Hollis is very impressive. I’ll certainly have to return. Thanks for checking out the blog.
Do people call you Andy Panda or Andy the Panda?
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I’ll look into that and have my people get back to you.
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