Atlanta museum a place of discovery, history and fun

This imaginative painting of a Caddo Indian village rewards close attention. The more one looks at it, the more one understands something about life and history. (Photo by Neil Abeles)

Children especially find the Atlanta Museum interesting.

First, on the inside there's a great big yellow airplane to climb all over. The flying machine's name is Queen Bess. It's a model of the one Bessie Coleman flew. She was America's first African-American female licensed pilot.

Then, there is a full size wooden wagon of the kind horses once pulled around dirt roads. Not especially comfortable, it would seem.

There's another cart which is a full-size baggage transport which would be rolled around the railroad station by hand as it carried passengers' luggage, shipped packages and postal mail.

By the way, this building is a former train depot. Just outside its front door is a real caboose from an actual train, on tracks and painted a bright red and yellow. It, too, can be climbed all over.

Inside the museum once again, the surroundings are dim, quiet and cool, such as it might be if it were the interior of a railroad station, which it is.

One wall painting is of a ticket booth with the ticket taker (conductor?) standing behind the bars waiting to talk or give you a ticket or advice. Perhaps both.

The walk around the interior is angular and intriguing. Take a step or two, make a turn, and there are lighted shelves which are slender and tall, extending down to the floor at eye level for children. In fact, it's a little known fact that these display shelves are not locked and their glass panes slide open at a slight touch. One could reach in and touch the items, but it's really not necessary. The observer is already so close to the objects. One's nose almost touches the glass. This is not exactly an art museum.

The displays tell stories of the town and region. Some display items are meant to be touched such as the real bale of cotton or the real swinging lamp with its four sides of colored glass lenses which the railroad conductor would wave.

There's a real PBX telephone switchboard for connecting callers one to the other. Some old timey telephone directories are placed around with numbers like "0254" and two twists of the bell hand crank. That would get you the operator, at least. You'd likely know her by name.

By the way, know what the "PBX" designation stood for? Private Branch Exchange. It's a way of connecting one phone to another.

Here's a cute history note. Did you know the traditional telephone system was known as the POTS or Plain Old Telephone System? It's POTS for short and worked with the procedure of a twisted pair of wires from the local phone company to the building where the PBX is.

No words going up to a satellite and coming back down.

Also in the museum are educational items. There's a colorful painted scene of a Caddo Indian village and several items that could be found there. With some imagination, one can have a view of how things must have looked like before trains and this depot itself came.

The museum recently welcomed a visit from the James Bowie chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Children of the Republic of Texas.

Atlanta's depot museum takes imagination. It is not elaborate or boring. It takes study and appreciation. But, because it is the former train depot, it still is a highlight of the town.

photo This hand cart certainly could carry a lot of boxes and luggage from the depot freight room to the train's boxcar. It could even be rolled around by one person. (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo No prettier horse wagon has existed than this green and gold one in the Atlanta Museum. Here's a trick question — with no answer to be given here. What's that white rope tied to and why? How did it work? (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo Here's what a museum is for. Sandra Parker from New Boston gets down on her knees to allow the young boy to show her something he sees and either knows about or wants to know about. They are looking at a display of a Caddo Indian village. (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo There may be no better airplane to fly even in Disney World than this one named Queen Bess in the Atlanta Museum. Cannon McDaniel, left, of New Boston and his brother Connor are the flyers. (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo Here's a way a museum could be. Let the visitor come skipping by in the middle of what's on display. Here it may be a wagon or suitcase, but it sure is fun. (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo Susan Smith Oaks of New Boston, Texas, is standing by something her grandparents or their friends might have used — a PBX telephone station. Susan said this reminded her of "Ernestine," the telephone operator on the Carol Burnett show. (Photo by Neil Abeles)
photo (Photo by Neil Abeles)