After being away from Lea County for 15 years, a pristine and aesthetically rich collection of farm implement toys was driven home to Lovington this past week.
The family of Lovington’s late Frank Parson, known by some as the Lea’s “Toy Farmer,” brought the collection to the Lea County Museum. It is now in its own exhibit “barn” on the second floor of the Lea County Museum’s 1918 Lister Building.
If a toy tractor could feel like a cow or horse, it would be right at home in the century-old building because many of the toys are replicas of full-size tractors a century old and older.
Parson, who owned a furniture store in Lovington for many years, passed away in 2003. That was the year his collection went to the home of his daughter Paulette and her husband Troy Harris, who live in Canyon, Texas.
Paulette, her sister Paula Parson Haynie, her daughter Melissa Jones, and her husband Troy Harris decided the toys belong in the community in which their original curator put them together. Thus, the four of them brought them back, then recreated the room with shelving like it was in the Parson Lovington home.
Paulette says she is sure this is what her father would want.
Parson started collecting in the 1950s. Although there may be other collectors of tractors and other farm implements in Lea County today, the nearest other collectors were in West Texas.
Parson had over 500 toys when he died. He was in a select company of American collectors who met in national conferences that must have resembled conferences that historians might hold.
A news story about him that circulated in the 1990s says having been born on a farm made him interested in collecting the toys. He said it was a great experience for him to have grown up on a farm at a time when farm technology was changing rapidly.
Farmers were moving from horses and plows to tractors with plows and discs.
Visitors to the Parson Farm Room at the LCM will step back in time, and looking at the beautifully rendered heavy metal toys, they will see why Frank Parson collected toy tractors like some people collect rare paintings.
The exhibit can be seen during regular museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Arrangements can be made for groups during other times.