Pilot story and photos


GOLD BEACH - Sheriff John is back with a vengeance.

No, that's not the title of a new action movie, but the grand reopening of Sheriff John's Classic Cars Museum in its new location at the Port of Gold Beach.

Actually, andquot;the best little car house in Oregon,andquot; as John and Carol Gillespie call it, is now officially named Sheriff John's Classic Cars and Dolls Museum, because it houses half of Carol's extensive doll collection.

Guys and dolls should both love the museum, along with anyone interested in classic cars, American history and nostalgia, Hollywood and movies, original and recreated costumes or rare and lifelike dolls.

Business and political leaders in Gold Beach turned out Friday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Carol, dressed in a 1920s costume, cut the ribbon. She was assisted by niece Nacole Miles dressed in a 1940s costume.

The 27 cars are set in humorous and historic displays utilizing props, costumes, period artifacts, murals, mannequins, newspaper clippings, period music, and historical information.

In various corners of the building, the Gillespies have recreated a diner, a gas station, a barbershop, and the andquot;Rat Packandquot; singing in a Las Vegas lounge.

The recreation of a neighborhood movie theater, Pirate Cove Cinema, is functional and visitors can view old movies there. Yes, there is also a pirate in the theater.

Carol's doll collection is mainly housed in the Rocking Horse Doll and Toy Shoppe, but dolls are also featured in many of the car displays.

The vehicles range from 1901 to 1972 models. Sheriff John's new prize is a 1941 Lincoln featured in the Barbra Streisand film andquot;The Way We Wereandquot; and purchased by the star after filming.

It was totally restored in Brookings at Nick's and Dents Auto Body. Despite the Streisand connection, Gillespie said he is going to put a Rita Hayworth mannequin alongside the car because she owned one back in 1941.

Another new display is the andquot;Amorandquot; taxi created for the Dean Martin display out of a 1960 Chevrolet Impala. Gillespie said the heavy-drinking Martin needed a taxi more than most people.

Other recent additions to the collection include a rare 1951 Kaiser coupe, a 1964 Corvette Sting Ray coupe (license plate andquot;Kech Meandquot;), and a 1946 Dodge truck.

Gillespie said the Dodge is a favorite with many visitors, but that every car is someone's favorite.

The Gillespies actually drive each and every car from time to time. There are no andquot;trailer queensandquot; at this car museum.

andquot;Each car has a different personality for starting,andquot; said Gillespie.

From May through October, the museum will be open afternoons and evenings. It will also be open during the off season by appointment.

The admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children 4-12, and free for those under 4.

The museum is located at the Port of Gold Beach across the parking lot from the andquot;A-Frameandquot; and just south of The Cannery.

For information, call the office at (541) 247-8067, or the museum at (541) 373-2277.