In Eastern Ohio, the roadside collection of a humble reverend who's legacy is preserved in the form of unique office supplies.
Right outside of the Hocking Hills Visitor Center is a tiny, wooden, single room building. The A/C unit juts out of the wall on the outside and two decorative pencils decorate the space surrounding the door. A plaque reads: “The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum.”
Inside: "KEEP SHARP...BE SHARP...ACT SHARP...STAY SHARP...LOOK SHARP"
The Pencil Sharpener Museum is exactly the kind of thing you’d hope to find along the road: entertaining, interesting, unique, and somewhat of an oddity. It’s a tourist attraction without it being a touristy thing to go see. Stepping inside, you’ll find that every imaginable thing has probably been turned into a souvenir pencil sharpener before. However, the ones displayed here are all in good taste and from the collection of the late Rev. Johnson. Before the internet, which alerted passersby like me to its existence, you might have only come across this museum of specific objects through a local newspaper article or by being a friend of the good reverend who had amassed this collection.
|- Former US Presidents and world landmarks.|
Former presidents, cartoon characters, food, technology, sports teams, airplanes, cars, Coke bottles, ships, animals - anything you can think of has probably been made into a pencil sharpener. It's quite enjoyable peering over them and being surprised at not only how many there are, but how many real world objects they imitate. Hidden within the collection there’s even a few that are simply just pencil sharpeners:
|- Simply just pencil sharpeners.|
My personal favorites are the ones depicting what its now considered outmoded technology. The sharpeners made to look like old cell phones, CD players, cassettes, etc. - items that once held a high monetary value and were replicated in pencil sharpener forgery.
|- Nokia cell phones.|
|- 1980's cell phones and other technology.|
|- Compact Disc players and musical instruments.|
Born in Bellaire, Ohio in 1925, Paul Johnson would grow up to serve the United States Navy during World War Two. Following the war, he married a woman named Charlotte, took up ministry, organized a regular reunion of shipmates, and lived a good life in Athens County, Ohio. He retired in 1988, telling all those who asked, that the pencil sharpeners started as a gift from his wife right around that time. He just ran with the idea and began collecting.
|- Rev. Paul Johnson in his museum. Image via Ohio.org.|
For years the museum was housed in a small shed on the edge of his property. After Paul passed away in 2010, his collection and the shed that housed them was donated to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center where they remain today as a unique roadside attraction and testament to a seemingly good-hearted man who’s still sharing the simple thing that made him happy in retirement.
Where to find the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum.