June 16, 2008
Homeville tank finds new home
World War II Army tank towed to site of Living History Center
Ida Pease/staff reporter
Chip Jermy, a former Homer village historian, checks over a M-60 Patton Army tank before it is towed from the Homer High School to the site of the planned Central New York Living History Center in Cortlandville. The tank is part of military artifacts from the Homeville Museum, which were amassed by Ken Eaton, who ran a military and train museum out of his Homer home before his February 2006 death.
HOMER — A short parade of vehicles that exited the Homer Junior High School parking lot Saturday would not have been as impressive but for an M-60 Patton Army tank in tow.
The tank had sat in the backyard of Ken Eaton, who had run a military and train museum out of his home at 49 Clinton St. in Homer before his February 2006 death.
Ken Eaton’s son, Chuck Eaton, of Homer, said the tank weighs about 55 tons. Manufacturing on the tanks began in 1960 and the last ones were retired in 1997.
Before the tank was moved nearly two miles to its new site at a planned museum on Route 11, people came to look at the entourage of vehicles, including three Brockway trucks and a military truck Eaton owned. Brockway trucks will also be a feature at the Central New York Living History Center.
From across the street, Jill Yacavone, her son Nicholas, 3, and two nephews — Joel Trinkle, 5, and Tasker Dennis, 2 — watched and waved small American flags as the vehicles pulled out of the school parking lot, under Homer Police escort.
“Mr. Eaton was my neighbor growing up,” Yacavone said. “We’re just so proud that his stuff can be seen by anyone.”
She and her brother had been in the tank at Eaton’s Homeville Museum, which filled much of his house, so the moving ceremony brought special memories.
“He used to let them climb up the ladder and look in,” Yacavone said of Eaton and her children. “He was very close to our family.”
Yacavone had been through the museum many times and recalled that Eaton had many unusual artifacts, including a piece of the Hindenburg and a portrait of Adolph Hitler whose eyes seemed to follow you. She also noted all the miniature trains he had.
“This is great. This is one of Dad’s dreams,” Eaton said as Rick & Rich Towing started working at getting the 55-ton vehicle off the tow trailer at the site on Route 11 that will become the Homeville Museum.
“It’s not every day you move a tank,” said Chip Jermy, former co-village historian.
The former CNY Office Products and A.B. Brown store on Route 11 in Cortlandville will house the museum and a Brockway Museum and possibly other collections. Collectively, it will be known as the Central New York Living History Center.
Eaton said he picked Saturday to move the tank because it was Flag Day. He would have liked to do it on Memorial Day but didn’t want to interfere with other Memorial Day parades, he said.
His father’s house has been for sale since January although all the packing was not complete until a month ago. “We packed every weekend since early September,” said Eaton. He said the family had a lot of help from board members and community volunteers. “We couldn’t have done it without help,” he said.
“I grew up in it,” Eaton said of the museum. “Every time I was in it I would see something I didn’t remember,” he said, of the museum, which took up 13 small rooms of the house. “That was part of the fun of packing up.”
Zack Becker, president of the Homeville Museum, said Rick & Rich moved the tank onto a trailer Friday.
“We were very lucky the track still works,” he said. When decommissioned, the military takes out the drivetrain and transmission, so towing was the only option.
He said the building that will house the museum will be gutted and a new roof put on, so the tank was placed on the north end of the property in back. The new Homeville Museum will have 6,000 square feet of display space and a 1,000-square-foot research facility.
Tom Kile, president of the Brockway Museum, said the museum would have 10,000 square feet downstairs and around 5,000 square feet upstairs where there would be a boardroom, bathrooms and a display area. Kile said the Homeville side would also have a cafeteria.
Eaton said although his father obtained the tank in October 1995, it still belonged to the federal government but was on permanent loan until Eaton’s death. Before Eaton died, the museum had taken over the lease. Eaton said the government wanted the tank back, but Becker contacted the National Guard and convinced the guard to allow the museum to have the lease.
Eaton said he appreciated Rick & Rich volunteering its services and also the Homer Police Department for the escort services.
Jeff Wilkins of Rick & Rich Towing said the whole moving process went smoothly. He said the tank was loaded Friday to make sure it was ready for transport.
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