WELCOMING THE COX COLLECTION AND A DECEMBER 10 HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE IN THE MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY IN TIJERAS
By Allen D. Olson
The tools, musical instruments, garments, art work, and personal effects gathered by Dorothy Alonzo Cox from Libya, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and England are on display in Tijeras at the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) and open to the public for the first time as part of a holiday open house in the Museum.
Visitors can tap out a tune on a Filipino Tallentang – eight brass gongs — and examine a leather camel whip. They can see a Victorian bug collection from England and a carved skull used for after-dinner drinks and the skin of a tiger shot by a police officer in India. There are brass trays, camel saddles, Coptic containers, and paintings of Arab and African village scenes and craftsmen. The Cox Collection has a little something for everyone.
Dorothy Cox lost her husband in the Korean War and decided to dedicate her teaching career to the Defense Department (DoD) Schools around the world; and just before her death in August 2016, she made it known she wanted to share her collections in a way where other DoD teachers and students, as well as the general public, could enjoy them, and her family presented them to MAMF. They are now on display in the MAMF Library right next to Schooling with Uncle Sam, a permanent exhibit tracing the history and evolution of the DoD schools, which includes descriptions by teachers and students about studying art with the Louvre in your front yard, or receiving your high school diploma in a Roman amphitheater, or making school field trips to Hiroshima or the Berlin Wall.
The history of the American military family is shown in a series of information panels spaced around a real house furnished just as a military family would have it – pictures on the mantel, starch and ironing board at the ready, uniforms handy, a wheel chair, cabinets loaded with beer steins, coffee cups, and tee shirts betraying where the family has been, and scrapbooks and photo albums from World War I to Iraq.
Other MAMF exhibits include panels depicting the sacrifice and service of military families, perspectives of military family life, and “G.I. Jokes,” which features a humorous look at military life through the pens of noted cartoonists and the characters they created.
The MAMF library also archives more than 500 books by and about military family life and folios of first-hand stories recounting events and experiences of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, and others who have loved and supported a member of America’s armed forces. MAMF has provided historical and personal material about third-culture children to university researchers, filmmakers, and historians from California to Germany and hosts discussion programs enabling civilians and Veterans to share thoughts and insights about the effects of war on family life.
Those effects of war are visible in an intimate memorial to a 14-year-old Vietnamese girl shown in a painting by an American soldier who watched her die as a result of a cross-fire and lamented that he was unable to help her. At the Museum entrance is a model bamboo cage like those used for prisoners of war in Vietnam, serving as a further reminder of the effects of war.
MAMF has published four anthologies: From the Frontlines to the Home Front – New Mexicans Reflect on War; War Child – Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War; SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth; and Home Front Hearth, a collection of favorite recipes gathered from around the world by military families. The books are for sale in the museum gift shop.
The December 10 Holiday Open House runs from 12:30 to 4:30 and is free to the public. Attendees are invited to bring a military or international Christmas ornament to help decorate the MAMF holiday tree.
MAMF is a volunteer 501 c 3 entity with no paid staff. It has a Board of Directors and liaison contacts with military-related organizations as well a writer and an artist-in-residence. It has memberships and partnerships with a number of museum associations. The MAMF
website is http://www.militaryfamilymuseum.org.
MAMF is at 546B State Route 333 (Old Route 66), right next to Molly’s, in Tijeras. Normal hours are 12:30 to 5:00 Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment. For information: Tel: (505) 504-6830. firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission is free.