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Picker or hoarder?

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by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

Just south of Sequim, Carl Allen and his wife, Pat, have a two and a half acre spread. They’re not raising crops, but they have a bounteous harvest — of stuff.

 

Lots of stuff of all varieties, including antique outboard engines, 10 or so tractors (new and old), more than a dozen motorbikes and a small but impressive collection of vintage autos.

 

But that’s just the beginning.

 

The collection begs a question of Carl: “Are you a picker or a hoarder?”

 

Pat chimes in instantly, and with a laugh: “a hoarder.”

 

Pat said that Carl “may be tired, but he’s not retired.” If Carl continues at his current pace, she said, he’ll “fill this place up.”

 

Carl begs to differ. “I’m a picker,” he declared. “I was picking before (the two guys on ‘American Pickers’) were born.”

Motorcycles, outboards and more
The results are impressive. One garage is stuffed with motorcycles, including a ’59 Honda 50cc bike.

Carl points. Yonder is one of the famous Indian bikes, this one dating from “’69 or ’70.”

 

Buried among the bikes is a real oddity: an old gasoline-powered Maytag washing machine.

 

Carl gets all of his new acquisitions running and in some cases does a complete rebuild “from the ground up.”

 

That includes another fine vehicle, a ’56 Ford pickup truck that starred in both “La Bamba” and a two-hour “Murder, She Wrote” special.

 

Carl has some local goodies, too, including a coffee grinder from Poulsbo, dated 1871.

 

Carl proudly showed off what he says is a “very, very rare fishing pole,” a Master Kaster with stroking action. “Other people may collect fishing poles,” he said, “but they don’t have one of these.”

 

He laughed at the memory of its purchase, noting the fellow who sold it had 3,000 poles, but had no idea of the value of the Master Kaster.

 

Pat pretends to be a little annoyed with it all, but she clearly also gets a kick out of the stuff that fills her home, yard, porches and outbuildings. She laughed when the tale was told regarding their best investment, a Gatling gun manufactured in 1870.

 

They loaded it into a pickup truck and drove it home along the Golden State Freeway, where they “almost caused a few wrecks along the way,” Pat said.

 

He bought the piece for $3,000 and it’s now worth “six figures,” he said. It’s not on display — all Carl will say is that “It’s still in the family.”

A little history

For 50 years (“too long,” said Carl), the Allens had a roofing company in the L.A. area in California. That proved very useful to Carl’s avocation as a picker. On one occasion he picked up a 1965 El Camino in exchange for a new roof. Another time he swapped a roof for a Model T.

 

In California their collection was even larger, Carl said, including more than 100 “hit-and-miss” engines, which use a flywheel as a governor. When they decided to move to Sequim, they sold many of the engines because carting that much weight was simply unworkable. Today he has a tractor with a scoop that is used primarily to move stuff around.

 

Selling isn’t something he ordinarily does. Pointing to another old Ford pickup, Carl said, “I could sell that truck for $500. But pretty soon I don’t have the $500 or the truck.”

 

The two have been married for 52 years.

 

Their son, Carl Jr., was the first to show up on the peninsula. He had young children and wanted a better place than California to raise them. The elder Allens followed just shy of 13 years ago.

 

They have one daughter in Poulsbo and the other in Marina del Rey, Calif.

 

Carl admits his choice of a new home was slightly odd, saying, “I don’t hunt, fish or drink.”

 

But filling his days, even in “’tirement,” isn’t tough. He might be picking or he might be hoarding, but he most assuredly is busy.

 

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