Small Wonder

The Hyde Park Miniature Museum has been dredged out of mothballs, but will it find a permanent home before time runs out?

When Kilian called to weigh Davis's interest in reopening the museum, Davis was busy trying to piece his life back together after the flood.

"The enthusiasm about that place [the museum] is in that place," he says. "You just have to expose yourself to it. But you do know going into it that it takes time away from your -- quote -- life. But it's so damn interesting. It's not like there's a choice."

he knows he won't be able to look after his grandfather's legacy forever. He hopes the Hyde Park Miniature Museum will find a champion to see it through after he's gone. "It's got such a life of its own," he says. "It'll find a place."

Deron Neblett

Like those of his grandfather, Frank Davis's hands are rarely idle.
Courtesy of Frank Davis
Like those of his grandfather, Frank Davis's hands are rarely idle.

But Smalley's final hobby was eerily prophetic of his museum's current situation. Stricken with cancer and fully aware that his life was winding down, Smalley spent his last few months trolling garage sales for old clocks. "At that time, it wasn't a fad yet," remembers Davis. "He found a wonderful assortment of old clocks and fixed them and built shelves for them all around the whole house. All the walls were covered. His collections had finally kind of dripped down from the attic into the house."

Every 15 minutes, every half-hour, every hour, the cacophony rose to amazing levels. Fruit remembers that Smalley staggered some of them and that others simply kept bad time; the noise that marked the passing of each hour went on for a good five minutes. "It was like some old cartoon, when a character would have some brilliant idea for Earth," Davis laughs. "It was like the sound effect for a light bulb going off over somebody's head."

But Fruit and Davis both say it was the ticking of each passing second that stayed in your mind long after you left the house. "It was like being in one of those massive chicken farms where they hatch little chickens and they are all pecking on the tin," Davis says. "It was the most unusual sound."

And though the clocks are not exhibited, that's the sound this museum is making.

The Hyde Park Miniature Museum is on view at Brazos Projects Exhibit Space, 2425 Bissonnet. Hours are noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays only. For more information, call 713-522-8530.

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