- Associated Press - Sunday, August 6, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - The way Allen Woodall sees it, lunchboxes are a time capsule harkening back to those early, and seemingly simpler, days of our lives.

They were a requirement for any young student desiring to show off the popular television shows or blockbuster movies they watched each night at home or at the movie theaters.

It’s that nostalgia for bygone moments that Woodall, who owns the Lunchbox Museum in Columbus, has seen as both an interesting attraction and moneymaking combination for about 15 years.

The 83-year-old businessman is reopening his store this month at the River Market Antiques building in Columbus, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported .

Crews recently hoisted a rusting metal dinosaur atop the building in preparation for its reopening. The dinosaur was crafted by Butch Anthony of Seale, Alabama.

Tucked back inside the 68-year-old building on Hamilton Road is the Lunchbox Museum, the holy grail of sorts to 20th Century pop culture.

There are more than 2,000 lunchboxes, Thermos containers and meal trays lining the walls and everywhere in between.

If there was a lunchbox manufactured - and there were nearly 700 different ones to hit the market in their heyday from the 1950s into the 1970s - it no doubt is in Woodall’s possession.

Scanning them visually, one can find an old Hopalong Cassidy and plenty more that include Snow White, Scooby Doo, Snoopy, The Incredible Hulk, The Brady Bunch, the Lone Ranger, Indiana Jones, the Hardee Boys, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Hong Kong Phooey. There’s even one metal box that simply reads, “My Lunch,” with an apple on the front of it.

“If somebody says, ‘That’s Scooby Doo, what I had in school, and I don’t have it and would love to have it’ … if we’ve got a duplicate, we’ll actually sell it to them,” Woodall said.

The longtime collector said most of the lunchboxes came from antique shows in which someone might have sold a handful of them or as many as 200. They are a major collectable on eBay and other online marketplaces, he said.

“A lot of people collect categories,” he said. “Like they might collect only westerns. And then somebody might collect Disney. And somebody might collect space, like The Jetsons, Space: 1999, and Space Cadets.”

Woodall was once was a major radio station owner in Columbus, having operated WDAK, Sunny 100 and South 106, along with stations in the Georgia communities of Albany and Brunswick. The stations were sold to Clear Channel in the 1990s, said Woodall, who doesn’t miss the radio business one bit.

“Everything really was going satellite and everybody was consolidating, and it wasn’t like it used to be when you had seven or eight different local owners,” he said. “It really changed and it got to where it wasn’t fun like it used to be.”

This month, as he prepared to reopen the store, it was evident that Woodall was enjoying himself as preparations were being made to reopen the museum and store. After all, he’s garnered plenty of attention from the businesses through the years via newspaper and magazine articles and TV segments.

“We’ve been on a lot of TV shows locally, and we’ve been on the Food Network. We’ve been on some major TV shows,” Woodall said. “We’re just thrilled to death.”


Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, https://ledger-enquirer.com

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