When you visit the Carson County Square House Museum in Panhandle, Texas, be sure to plan on spending at least a half day there, if not longer. The site houses twenty individual exhibits including the Square House itself, a recreation of a pioneer dugout home, a church, a war memorial and six other buildings, five exhibit halls, seven outdoor dioramas, a caboose, a windmill and an iron jail transport wagon. And that’s just the big stuff.
In one display was barber shop and beauty shop equipment including an early twentieth century electric permanent wave machine. This device was used by beauty shop operators to put curls in their customer’s coiffures. The electric clamps hung from wires and were attached to women’s hair. Volunteer Janet Nickell told me she had used a device just like the one on display as a young woman. The clamps on these machines could become quite hot, she told me. In fact, she said, the last time she got a permanent wave on this kind of machine, her head became so badly burned it took several days to stop hurting. She never had her hair waved with this device again.
At the end of a dimly lit corridor at the north end of Ordway Hall lies the Amarillo College Natural History Museum. This site is cram-packed with preserved insects and animals, dried plant samples, restored skeletons and fossils. The sheer number of stuffed creatures displayed around the floor and on the walls makes it feel like a safari. It was fantastic.
Tucked away on the second floor of the old Wilson Elementary School is a collection of Amarillo’s history: The Amarillo Historical Museum. Director Tom Warren II was there when I visited and showed me around the two room collection. The museum is packed with fascinating objects from Amarillo’s past.