Patsy Cline’s daugher Julie Fudge has told us that the museum that opened in her mother’s memory in April 2017 has helped even her to understand more about the country legend’s life and times.
Julie was only five when her mother was killed in a plane crash in 1963, at the age of just 30. The Patsy Cline Museum includes original letters, contracts and other documentation as well as some of Cline’s costumes, instruments and artefacts from the family homes. There is also a recreation of the “dream home” that they moved into in Goodlettsville, Tennessee in spring 1962.
‘I love to read the letters’
“Everyone has been thrilled with, first of all, the fact that there is a place to go now, and secondly with how well it’s been done,” said Fudge in 2017. “I love to read the letters and the little things I find because they put together a puzzle, all the way back, and I just love that part of it. “
Julie’s father, Patsy’s husband Charlie Dick, passed away in November 2015 at the age of 81, soon after the beginning of the process that has made the museum a reality. Museum founder Bill Miller, chief executive officer of Icon Entertainment Group, was looking to establish the museum.
As reported in the first part of the feature, based on our interview with Miller, the building is in downtown Nashville, on 3rd Avenue South, on top of the Johnny Cash Museum, opened by Miller in 2013.
“My dad actually felt like we had nothing, like ‘What could we fill a museum with?’” Fudge remembers. “In fact, one of my brothers said the same thing. It’s really been quite intriguing to dig around and find the little things that you don’t think much about, but when you put them in the context of the story, they’re rather remarkable.”
As the conversations with Miller and his wife Shannon developed in the wake of Dick’s passing, the timing of the new project proved apposite. “When Bill and I got together,” says Julie, “it was kind of an answer to ‘What am I going to do now with dad being gone, how are we going to preserve mum and dad’s mementoes?’”
‘This was still a new home to her’
After Patsy and Charlie married in 1957, their daughter was born in 1958, when the family moved to the Nashville suburb of Madison. They lived in rental property, across the street from country star Hank Snow, before having their own home; the move to the Goodlettsville property recreated in the exhibit came only a year before her death. “She worked and travelled a lot. Part of that last year she spent 35 days in Las Vegas, so this was still a new home to her.
“She always said in her letters, she really hated to be away. I think she loved what she did and she knew that was a way she could support her family [but] if she could have, she would have stayed home.”
Fudge adds that the recreation of their former house is both authentic and evocative. “Bill has utilised the modern technologies, and being a privately-funded museum, you can really put your heart into it and get the things that seem to fit.
‘It really does add to the authenticity’
“The way he recreated the rec room that belonged to my mum and dad, we had various items that fit in there and told the story, but also in my digging around in dad’s garage and things, I found a ceiling light from the house, from one of those rooms. So it really does add to the authenticity. Then the way Bill recreated the walls and flooring and put everything together, it really did bring it to life. A lot of people who had been at the house told us it was really well done.”
Fudge laughs at the idea of the museum sharing an address with fellow country legend Cash. “You couldn’t ask for a better neighbor,” she says. “I think it’s rather an honor to be right there with him and considered a companion to that area. It is a fabulous part of Nashville, being right there in the heart where everybody is. It’s retained a lot of its originality and I’m proud of that. You can’t get these things anywhere else.”