Hillsboro— Smack dab between the Metroplex and Waco, you’ll find Hillsboro, which also happens to be the home of some very nice billboards for our favorite rest stop in West. Before we buy a bunch of kolaches at Slovacek’s we got our fill of Americana at one awesome stop. “Welcome to Roadside America… in Hillsboro, Texas. I’ve got some pretty interesting things, I would say,” said Carroll Estes. Carroll is the curator at the Roadside America Museum.
Originally from Dallas, Carroll bought the old Ford Dealership in Downtown Hillsboro and converted it to a showplace for all his possessions.“It’s mainly a hobby turned into what people started calling a museum. So, I started calling it a museum too,” he explained. A lover of all things 50’s, Carroll has been collecting a curious assortment of anything that makes him feel like he’s a kid again. “I wish I had a time machine. I’d go back to 1959 and stay there forever… Reason I picked 1959 I wouldn’t want to miss the fins on ’59 Cadillac,” said Carroll. “Such a simpler time. Before the computer age and all that stuff took over. And the cars, the cars of the 50s, come on, that’s all I need to say.
Vintage records, vintage remedies, and vintage road signs are just a few of the retro things Carroll collects. He searches the state looking for this stuff, but also finds some of it on the internet. “I do find things on there now from time to time… I guess… there’s some advantages [with computers]. The spell check is good,” he commented. Fortunately, U-S-A is easy to spell and this place sure showcases that it’s proud to be American.
“I know some collectors they collect great stuff, but they just build rows of shelves and stick things up on shelves… But you could give some personality,” he said. Carrol’s collection includes massive cartoon characters that are colossal in size. Pepe Le Pew, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Sylvester the Cat! “My goal is to get the entire Looney Tunes cast someday…Foggy, you got to have Foggy [Foghorn Leghorn]. I’m looking for a Foggy,” he said. “The eight foot Big Boy over here, which was my first fiberglass statue…I just found out a couple of years ago that he came from one of the first two Big Boy restaurants,” said Carrol.
Grape soda known as Grapette also means a great deal to this gatherer of all things 50s.“I got what I think may be the largest Grapette soda collection in existence,” he claimed. “I got started on the Grapette because that was my favorite drink as a kid, for one thing. I was 12 before I knew my tongue wasn’t supposed to be purple.” Carroll’s colossal collections of grape soda and Looney Tunes are impressive, but there is even more out back.
“I’ve got an old general store out back…it’s a display. It’s not for selling. It’s for showing… Built it out of 100% old rustic materials. It’s pretty cool. Stocked up with any kind of old store stock like stepping back into the forties…It covers a few decades, but it goes from all the way to turn of the century up probably,” he said.
It’s been said that as you get older, three things happen. First your memory goes and the other two, well I can’t remember the other two, but not Carroll. He is too busy remembering the 50’s because that brings him back to a joyful time in his life, a joy he wants to share with Texas.
“If you grew up in this area, it will take you back to a time that just makes you feel good… It was just a time in history I think everyone should either relive or at least learn about,” he concluded.