Family's Walhalla, ND, farm repair shop ends 90-year run with an auction
Besides fixing farm equipment, repairing and restoring old cars also was one of Alvin Holen’s favorite jobs. “For the past 10 years or more, I’ve been spending my time working on lawnmowers, snowblowers, small engines,” said Holen, adding he misses the chats he had with neighbors when they brought him parts to fix. "Visiting with customers was part of the deal, too."
WALHALLA, N.D. — After 90 years in business, Holen Repair Shop will bid farewell to the neighborhood Saturday, Sept. 12, at an auction on the farm site southeast of Walhalla, N.D.
Engines, tools and vintage vehicles are among the items that will be sold on-site at the auction, which will be in the shop that Alvin Holen opened for business in 1930.
“Dad and his brother were farmers, but Dad never liked horses, so he started working on Model Ts,” said Dale Holen, who has been the only other owner since his dad opened the shop. Dale worked in it until he was 82.
A couple of years ago, a neck injury from a treadmill accident forced Holen to quit working in the shop. But the now 84-year-old still fields questions about how to fix things over the phone from the room he and his wife, Dorothy, share at the Pembilier County Nursing Home in Walhalla.
Holen’s answers come from a wealth of repair experience that he gained working in the shop from the time he was a young boy.
“I have some pictures in our album. I was wearing a pair of overalls and already covered with grease and oil,” Holen said.
His first jobs were tightening screws and bolts on the engines his father was repairing. He began working with Alvin Holen full-time in 1953, after he graduated from high school.
In the early days of their repair work, the father and son fixed a lot of their farmer-neighbors’ machinery.
“If something broke on the plow or the combine needed a piece on it repaired ... whatever was broke, they brought it over to fix,” Holen said. “That was our goal every day — to fix things so farmers could use it again.
“There’s something intriguing about having something that doesn’t work, something interesting about getting it to work again,” he said.
Besides fixing farm equipment, repairing and restoring old cars also was one of Holen’s favorite jobs.
A maroon 1934 Chevrolet two-door hardtop, 1948 Willys Jeepster with a fold-down soft top and a 1948 black Chevrolet Fleetmaster, all in running condition, are included among the items that will be auctioned.
Holden Repair Shop still contains car parts from the 1940s, '0s and '60s, which also will be up for bidding in an online auction. Hundreds of unopened boxes of stock car parts will be sold by timed online auction bidding, according to the Holen Repair Shop auction bill.
“I really enjoyed working on the old stuff. I enjoyed the engines most of all,” Holen said. “When car motors started getting in sideways, that’s when we quit working on engines. Dad and I couldn’t work with computers.
“For the past 10 years or more, I’ve been spending my time working on lawnmowers, snowblowers, small engines,” said Holen, adding he misses the chats he had with neighbors when they brought him parts to fix. "Visiting with customers was part of the deal, too."
The Holen Repair Shop auction will begin onsite at 10 a.m. Saturday. Directions to the repair shop are on the Resource Auction website at www.resourceaucton.com .
Holen’s cars and other major items will be available for simulcast online bidding Saturday. Interested buyers can register to bid online by visiting the website. The parts and some specialty tools will be sold by timed online auction with bids opening Saturday, Sept. 12, and closing Saturday, Sept. 19.