Collecting Courage

In the small town of Olton, Texas, right on Main Street sits a building which may look ordinary to some, but to one Olton native, it serves as a history-rich story.

Kody Carson, a farmer from Olton, Texas, recalls coming to this parts store as a child and to this day can recall all the memories made inside its walls. 

“This building, to me, was just always a safe, warm place,” Carson said. “I remember resting my arm up on the workbench when I was little and remember wanting to learn to rebuild starters and alternators.” 

From the outside looking in, this building looks just like any other, however on the inside, beautiful hardwood floors trace across the room, original tile ceilings follow you as you stroll and incredible works of art catch your eye with each step. 

The before and after of the 1950’s jukebox Carson restored for his father.

Vintage cars, juke boxes, gas pumps and signs line the perimeter of the old parts store. Years of collecting and restoring these beautiful pieces has made a comforting place for Carson’s family and friends. 

“There’re several reasons why I restore and collect everything in here,” Carson said. “I love the history; I love the people I’ve met and I want this to be a place where my friends and family feel safe and comfortable.”

I love the history; I love the people I’ve met and I want this to be a place where my friends and family feel safe and comfortable.

When word spread around town that the old parts store was planned to be torn down, Carson said he felt this store was meant to be restored to its original glory. 

“I think I gained as much as the building,” Carson said. “This restoration has really provided me a place to unwind my perspective from the farm.” 

Carson said he is not one to deny the existence of mental health across the farming community. Mental health is something he takes seriously and wants fellow farmers to know it is okay to need someone to listen and hear what they have to say. 

With economic uncertainty, helplessness to weather and seclusion constant tension is placed on farmers. Extreme stress, anxiety and depression has brought the mental health of farmers into scrutiny.  

 “In agriculture we are taught suck it up and do it,” Carson said. “Ah, you’ve lost a finger; you still have four. Go on and get back to work.”  

Restoration projects has helped Carson in more ways than one; not only has it given him a safe place to go and unwind but has also given him something for him and his dad to share. 

 A few years ago, around Christmas time Carson gifted his dad a project he had been working on, a 1950s jukebox. Carson said he had never been that excited to give a present to anyone. 

 “I’ve never seen him get so much joy out of a gift,” Carson said. 

Finding joy through small projects and creating an atmosphere where he can relax and unwind when need, has brought a positive balance to such a high stress occupation. Carson says by noticing the presence of mental health struggles throughout the farming community, it has allowed him to be more mindful of himself. 

The topic of mental health and farming is only going to grow stronger, and Carson said he hopes can he encourage other farmers to find the help they need. The rich history, family atmosphere and growth within this historic building right on Main Street, is an inspiration to all.