Arno Strobe. The Older the Guy, the Bigger the Toys.

This has been a year without winter. There was little snow or cold in January. That was a very lucky thing for the museum. It gave us time for a very big outdoor job.

Arno is a friend of many years. He is one of those old guys that we like so well, and that many others, …don’t. He is just a friendly old cuss who seems to inspire certain reactions that aren’t always “pleasing” in most folks. But we like him. Once you get past his ways, he is a great story teller. His body is failing him now, but his mind is sharp. He can tell you stories about the local life you wouldn’t believe. –Along with his many tales, Arnie has also been an extremely dedicated collector.

Some months ago he fell in his home and his family found him several days later. He’s now living out his days in a care center. And his house has been sold. His children are becoming somewhat well seasoned in age, and were unable to clean and clear everything out. So they called us before the sale was final.

I had been over to visit him many times over the years, but had never really explored all he had. It was both awesome, and very, very daunting. The house, two garages and barn were stuffed. Lost in the piles of things were 5 cars, the most notable being a 1930 Franklin. We spent three weeks sorting, moving, hauling, …stuff. There were many days of loading scrap metal and taking it all to recycling. We burned enormous amounts of cardboard boxes and trash. Eventually three huge dumpsters were loaded and taken away. Arnie was a super collector (aka: well inventoried hoarder)!

All the work was a great benefit to the museum. The Franklin was sold to a Franklin collectors group in Pennsylvania to be restored (it was too modern for the museum), and the money will be used to acquire an earlier Model T. We found many automobiliana & gas station signs and license plates that now grace the “garage” at the museum. There was a wonderful 1950’s Shell gas pump, which will also be passed on in order to get a 1910 era pump (also for the garage). We found lots of parts for a 1936 Silver Streak Pontiac sedan, which also are being “converted” to acquire other museum car equipment, and there was all kinds of lifts, pumps and jacks that have become part of the museum. And then there were all the books, badges and buttons, all great for display and research.

It was quite the task, but well worth it. The only problem with it was how it again reminded me of how often guys spend their lives creating great collections, then it all drifts away in their later years. It seems such a loss that such fine assemblages of history are lost. Fortunately for Arno, and the museum, much of his collections will continue on.

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