Couple creates own space in time

Published 10:49 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

COLOSSE-Driving down Colosse Road, with its modern homes and manicured yards, folks may be pleasantly surprised to see the change in scenery at the home of Cecil Proffit.

Adjacent to his home a few feet from the road there is an honest-to-goodness 1940s Esso Service Station. Complete with three hand-operated gas pumps in front of the small station, it is filled with everything from a genuine life-size wooden cigar-store Indian to a pin-ball machine, juke box, wall telephone, hundreds of bottles, cans, signs and posters of the 1940s to the 1960s era.

One unusual item inside the station is a working moonshine liquor still, while outside in front of the pumps, there is a 1935 restored black and gray Ford sedan waiting to be filled with gas.

“Everything is original, except for the building,” said Proffit “ I was more or less forced to build that to display all of these things I’ve collected over the years.”

A master automotive mechanic who has restored numerous vehicles, he also built a larger building behind the service station to house a number of autos and motorcycles he had restored. They include a white 1957 Thunderbird and a white 1951 Mercury.

It wasn’t long before vehicles were not the only things the 66-year-old Proffit had stored there. Like the service station, the walls are covered with pictures, signs, clocks and other collectibles too numerous to count. Pictures of his favorite movie stars, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, are some of the first things the visitor sees.

During the five years he has had the buildings, Proffit’s collection has drawn visitors from around the country. From the beginning, his collection has been known as a museum.

The talented grandfather of nine owns an automotive body shop in Portsmouth, from which he retired last year. He spends most of his time at his home and the museum

with his wife, Barbara, while one of his three daughters, Cindy McCain, runs the business.

As for his collection, he said he began accumulating the items 45 years ago, around the time he and Barbara got married.

“We used to attend a lot of car shows,” he said, “and looked for unusual things pertaining to cars.

“If we saw something we liked, we’d buy it. Then, people would bring me things. Before long, I just didn’t have any storage space left.”

He and Barbara bought their current property about 10 years ago and built the service station, which measures 30-by-18-feet, and the 40-by-100-foot-long garage about five years ago.

Proffit says he still restores the vehicles, but not as much because of health reasons.

During the years the Proffits have been in the area, though, they’ve participated in a community event—a cancer fundraiser where everybody volunteers.

“Every Saturday before Mother’s Day, for the last four years, we’d have an auto show, a couple of bands (one year we had five bands during the day) catered food, horses, just a real fun day for anyone who wanted to come,” Proffit said.

“We didn’t charge for anything—people just gave donations,” he said. “But every year we took in close to $20,000 for the cancer society.”

Barbara said they wouldn’t have the event his year because of her husband’s health problems.

“It would be just too much work,” she said.

“The museum will be open, though,” Proffit said with a smile, “and we welcome visitors.