by Long Hwa-shu Special to the News-Sun July 8, 2012 7:48PM
7/7/12 Lake Villa bill Gruenwald’s farm auction on Saturday, July 7th, by Obenauf Auctions. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: July 9, 2012 2:30AM
Collectors, recyclers and, above all, bargain hunters converged on the Gruenwald Farm in Lake Villa on Saturday for the “everything goes” auction.
The auction at the farm off Rte. 59 included vintage tractors, fork lifts, farm sleighs, yokes, heaters, tools of every description and a 1970 white-over-red Jeep pickup.
William Gruenwald and his wife, Sandy, have sold their 64-acre farm to the Lake County Forest Preserve as part of a 108-acre package with a neighbor.
Over 400 items were sold, according to bill Obenauf, the veteran auctioneer.
“It went quite well, better than we expected. More than 150 buyers came,” said Obenauf, a former longtime board member of the Lake County Fair Association.
The Jeep was sold for $3,000, he said. A vintage Ford tractor also commanded a good price. But a mechanical rocking horse, despite its faded paint, attracted intense bidding. as if trying to corral it, several potential buyers were lingering around it before the bidding. the price started at $200. it went up steadily as bidders upped their ante and finally sold for $700.
“I collect horses,” said Laura Ronney of Lake Villa, the winning bidder.
She said her husband, Gary, who was by her side, started her collection by buying her a carousel horse seven years ago.
“It was a good price,” he said of their winning bid.
Every sale seemed to bring smiles to the buyer, apparently either because the price was right or the item was a good find. Or both.
Lance Peters of Ingleside bought four chicken coops. He said he planned to convert them into coffee tables. Tom Streicher, who runs a vegetable stand in Gurnee, bought a fertilizer spreader and a seed planter at what he said was “a good deal.”
Andy Pavelich of Waukegan, a metal fabricator, acquired some garden tools and a coil of chains which he said he’ll weld into yard art.
William Gruenwald, the property owner, was nostalgic about the good, old days on the family farm, where dairy cows, chickens, ducks, geese and hogs were raised. the farm, he said, was started in 1941 by his immigrant parents from Germany who were bakers.
“It brings back happy memories of raising a family. This used to be a huge playground for children,” recalls Gruenwald, 83, as he walked around the grounds, hobnobbing with bidders and acquaintances as the auction proceeded in earnest.
“It’s no fun anymore. the taxes are too high. It’s too expensive to keep it,” he lamented.
He said he and his late wife raised nine children — five boys and four girls — on the farm. He married Sandy, who has three grown sons, 12 years ago.
The auction took on the air of a picnic as hot dogs, roasted in the tent, went for $1 each. and icy-cold water was in demand.
“Weren’t it for the oppressive heat, more people would’ve come,” said Obenauf, the auctioneer.