Caraway fire claims movie memorabilia
A Caraway fire destroyed movie memorabilia from "Walk the Line" and "A Painted House" along with other items collected over 20 years by Melton Emery, owner of two buildings located at the intersection of State Highway 135 and 158.
Emery, a longtime resident of Caraway, collected old farm equipment and items from the area's history and was more than glad to help out with items when the production for "A Painted House" began in 2002. The movie was filmed in Lepanto in 2003. The movie is from the John Grisham book based on the author's early youth in Northeast Arkansas.
Again items from the Emery collection were used the movie "Walk the Line," the life story of Johnny Cash filmed in 2004.
Emery's son, Monte, said the fire started Tuesday when winds caused electric lines to arch. The fire started in the back building and due to the high winds moved to the front building, the former Central Oil location.
"We are just thankful no one was hurt," Monte said. "Volunteer firemen from Caraway, Monette, Lake City and Black Oak came to fight the fire. We appreciate them for the work they do year round. As heartbreaking as the fire is, it could have been worse."
Monte said several props used in 17 to 18 movies were lost. The items included stars guitars, props purchased from the Orpheum Theater from the Nut Cracker productions from the 1960s through the 1990s, and a full length stretch limousine used in the movie "Nothing But the Truth." Also destroyed in the fire were paintings painted by the three Emery brothers, Mark, Monte, and Merrett, which had all been used in movies. A Model LA tractor Melton and his grandson, M.J., had restored was also in the fire.
The Emerys have several other buildings and Monte said they will continue to collect.
"If it was not for my dad's love of collecting, I would not be doing what I am today," Monte said. "I've got to meet a lot of interesting, nice people and see a lot of places. A friend of mine said items may look like junk until you can rent it to be used in a movie, then it becomes merchandise."
After the movie "Walk the Line," Monte has worked full time providing era items for different movie productions since 2004.
"I also appreciate Asa Boatman who has helped me out a lot with vehicles needed in movies," Monte said.