OLEAN — Clocks, radios and cars collected by Boardmanville’s “Clock Guy” are on the auction block this weekend.
One of the biggest estate auctions in the city blocked off Oviatt Street Friday and today as auctioneers sorted out the many objects left behind by Elmer Blush Jr. when he passed away March 1.
To many, he was best known for the clock and radio repair business he ran out of the basement of his home, at 627 Main St. He was also known for his classic cars, taking them to Street Classics Car Club events and beyond.
The contents of the many rooms, garages, darkroom, woodworking shop and observatory — a raised platform and dome covered in what appears to be used photo offset press plates discarded by the Olean Times Herald — will be put up. Most of the items, including the property, will be auctioned today.
It’s taken three weeks for auctioneers to prepare the lots for sale, said Richard Mason of RG Mason Auctions of Fillmore, which is co-hosting the auction with United Auctions of Allegany. Oviatt Street is blocked off for the large event tents and as an impromptu car show.
“It was cluttered — but not with garbage,” he said. “It’s never been picked over… there were probably only 20 people through that house when he was here.”
Blush left behind no family, and much of the funds raised will go to charity, Mason noted.
The auction Friday included two rings — one for model trains, one for boxed die-cast cars, plastic model kits and other toys. More than 60 totes of toys were removed from the house.
Strangely, many came from nooks and crannies which had been covered in sheetrock.
“We found several hidden rooms he had drywalled over,” Mason said, adding he was not sure why.
The enclosed spaces held dozens of plastic totes full of model trains, cars and other items — including items owned by Blush’s parents. Throughout the house, many totes were inventoried, with neat, handwritten lists of contents.
Today is the main event, however. The bulk of the house’s contents will be on the block — including the house and a number of cars.
“We just kept finding cars,” Mason said. “It’s a two-bay garage, and there were six of them, all lined up.”
The vehicles range from the 1940s to the 1980s. The oldest is a 1940 Studebaker with suicide doors, complete with bullet hole stickers and a mannequin dressed as a gangster. A 1963 GMC Suburban bought new still bears the Maryland dealer’s sticker where Blush purchased it. A 1978 Dodge sedan comes with the light bar and magnets marking it as a Chicago Police Department cruiser.
While the auction was set to start Friday, interest has been growing for weeks.
At one point, Mason said that a gaggle of staff from the nearby Olean General Hospital office building came over after a doctor noticed that his staff was spending lots of time “with their noses pressed against the windows” to see what was being pulled out of the house.
There was a steady stream of passers-by walking through the property, commenting on the house, the grounds and the sheer number of items contained within.
Stopping at the top of a stairwell, Mason eavesdropped on visitors expressing their awe.
“I just like to listen,” Mason said with a smile, taking pleasure in sharing the property with the public.