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A Model A in the house, just one of the highlights of growing up on Elmer’s Auto and Toy Museum in Ft. City

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FILE - Inside one of the many buildings at Elmer's Toy and Auto Museum in Fountain City, Wis. (PHOTO: @ElmersAutoandToyMuseum on Facebook)

There are probably hundreds of stories that the six children of Elmer Duellman could tell about their dad.

With three weekends left of Elmer’s Auto & Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wis. (map), being open to the public, before it’s auctioned off by one of the world’s biggest auction companies, you can bet plenty of those stories are going to be told.

Brad Duellman joined La Crosse Talk PM on Thursday and was able to share a couple of them with the audience. 

In telling some of the history behind the museum, Brad glossed over a peculiar detail — because it wasn’t abnormal to him. That detail: They have a 1929 Model A in their house. 

He said it in passing, and didn’t think anything of it. Interrupting his thought, it had to be asked, ‘Wait, there’s a Model A in your house?’

The story goes that mom, Bernadette, somehow didn’t know dad was so very literal. 

“I know dad, if you said something, you had to be careful, because he could take you literally and run with it,” Brad said.

As Elmer brought a couple of cars home one day, including the Model A, Brad said of his mom, “She made a comment that, ‘Boy that’s nice enough to put in the house.’

“Well, the following year, they built an addition on the house with a fake wall behind us so they could drive it through the garage, into the house. So it sits in the living room, next to the fireplace. It’s just part of the furniture.”

The museum is made up of over 2,000 items in five buildings, a house-garage and the Mecum tent, which will be there in a month.

Brad said there are one-of-a-kind items that people all over the world are interested in obtaining. The museum has everything from pedal cars to wagons to trikes and bikes to scooters to Vespa’s to snowmobiles, boat engines, signs and, of course, the big cars.

Another interesting fact and part of the auction next month is a 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette that has just 5.4 miles on it. Brad said it was driven on the trailer, off the trailer and parked. That’s it.

Brad was asked if his dad collected cars like he collected toys, and wanted to keep them “new in box” so to speak.

“That is a good way to put it because, I mean, the window sticker is still in the window,” Brad said of the Corvette, “the cardboard’s still in the steering wheel, the seats are still covered. The cardboard’s still on the floor. Yeah, that’d be a good way to describe it.”

Some might wonder why they decided to auction the museum — a giant part of their childhood — off. Brad, one of six children, said it wasn’t their plan.

“Well, the museum, we all grew up with it, so it’s part of us, too,” he said. “But it was dad’s passion and he truly loved to share it with people. And the next step was to share it with the rest of the world. 

“So, he had this in the motion already before he passed away. And I never argued with my dad when he was alive and I’m not gonna argue with him now. This is the next step.”


MUSEUM HIGHLIGHTS

There are five museum buildings to tour with collections including:

Autos & Cycles

  • Over 100 Muscle, Antique & Classic Autos & Trucks from 1910 & up
  • Indian & Harley Davidson Motorcycles
  • Old Bicycles & High Wheel Bikes
  • Antique Racecars & More

Pedal Cars

  • Largest Pedal Car Display in the country with 600-700 cars
  • Over 100 Pedal Tractors
  • Small Pedal Riding Toys (horses, tricycles, wagons)

Toys

  • 1,000’s of Antique Toys
  • Cast-Iron
  • Pressed Steel
  • Tin wind-ups
  • Japanese tin
  • Battery operated

Antique Tools

  • Farm tools
  • Carpenter tools
  • Mechanic tools

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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