|By CINDY LADAGE
COLCHESTER, Ill. — At the Argyle State Park Antique Tractor Show on Labor Day weekend, Donie and Bev Fischer of Waterville, Ohio offered visitors a visual Oliver history, a museum that they take from show to show.
The museum started with a sand box and a couple of toys.
“It was 1973 and my son, Marty, was playing with the Oliver O6 crawler and Oliver Super 55 with a two-bottom plow that I had when I was a kid,” Fischer said. “A man stopped and asked me why was I letting my son play with those tractors?”
Fischer found out the toys were valuable. He put the toys on a shelf and took his son to the Oliver dealership for new ones. This proved to be the catalyst that got Fischer collecting.
“Bev and I started going to flea markets and yard sales and collected all kinds of toys for the next 15 years,” he said. “I lost interest for about 10 years, then began thinking about the dream I had of making a traveling museum of Oliver items. I grew up with my father and grandfather farming with Olivers; and when I was six years old, my dad started me driving on an OC3 crawler.”
The couple bought a trailer for their museum. Through the years, they have traded up, and now have a 30-foot trailer that holds all of their display items in a more permanent style.
Fischer is a retired farmer and lawn and garden dealer who enjoys traveling and sharing his Oliver collection. He said visitors tend to go through his display once, then come back again bringing others with them.
“Sometimes they make us feel like the highlight of the show,” he said. The museum has a variety of custom-built, precision and 1/32nd-scale toys made by Arcade and Slick during the 1950s.
“Then I have a box with an old parts bag and a rotating display of 1/64th-scale toys,” Fischer added.
The American White series tractors mean a great deal to Fischer because of the source.
“These were given to me by my Oliver dealer, A.J. Boellner and Son from Maumee, Ohio,” he explained. “This was a special set given only to dealers that went to the 1989 meeting in Chicago. Only 150 sets were made. My friend, Larry Boellner, came home and donated it and a lot of other Oliver items like a pith helmet and straw hat. Being an Oliver dealer, he has given or loaned me a lot of things for the museum.”
The museum also includes Oliver manuals and literature. There are implements and an Oliver gas pump collection that he said is all reproduction.
While toys and memorabilia fill the trailer, Fischer also has Oliver outboard motors and an array of pedal tractors, many which are custom built or original. Another rare item is the toy outboard motor he owns. He has two Oliver toy boats, one a Chris-Craft model, and one an open fishing boat. Both were designed to run on four D size batteries.
His collection is finished off with a garden and flowerbed set that includes a tractor, a manure spreader, corn planter and a two-bottom plow. It takes Fischer eight hours to set up and five hours to tear it down.
For details contact Fischer at 419-878-8660 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.