|By Starr Miller
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – In a small rural community in southeast Indiana, there was a name synonymous with hospitality and hard work; in mid October, hundreds of people gathered at the wood and metal working shops of Richard V. Harris for an opportunity to buy a piece of the legacy that Harris built over his nearly eight decades. Bidders gathered Oct. 14 for the estate auction, hosted by his wife, Doris Harris, and there was a common theme among those in attendance.
“I used to stop here two or three times a month,” one bidder said. “I would stop to ask him a question and end up having a cup of coffee and a few hours of conversation with Rick and sometimes, Doris. He had the sawmill here with his son, and there were always lots of interesting projects going on around here. You couldn’t live in this area and not know who they were – some of the kindest folks around here, and I’m convinced there wasn’t anything that Rick couldn’t fix.”
Paul Cuskadon Auction Company, out of St. Paul, Ind., handled the auction duties for the event, which included an array of metal and woodworking tools and machinery. The auction began with the tables set out four deep outside of the shops, laden heavy with hand tools, ranging from hand routers to air nailers, staplers and hand saws.
After several tables were sold, auction goers were asked to go into Harris’ metal working shop; it was evident by the spirited bidding that several buyers had come for specific items. One such piece was an Enco milling machine with CNC motors that realized a high bid of $2,100.
A 230 volt Hobart Air Force 700 I plasma cutter realized a high bid of $860 and an hydraulic 10 ton Porta-Power Hobart Beta Mig 250 welder saw $650. A plasma cutter realized a bid of $600.
A 12 inch South Bend quick change gear lathe went for a high bid of $210, and an Edlund single spindle drill press realized $400. A nine-speed heavy duty drill press saw a high bid of $250, a 5hp Larue 240 two stage air compressor realized $300, a Miller Wire Feed Synero-Wave 250 welder saw $875 and a Lincoln 225 amp arc welder sold for $325. Two Milwaukee super SawZalls saw $175 apiece and Kalamazoo and Buffalo metal cutting band saws realized high bids of $325 and $225, respectively.
One of the last items sold in the metal working shop was a welding table, handmade by Harris. The table boasted a huge vise and the bidding was spirited until someone in the crowd noticed that Harris’ great grandson was bidding. The table went to his great-grandson for $225.
Later in the day, several miscellaneous items were sold in and around the shop and a similar situation occurred when bidders realized that one of Harris’ granddaughters was bidding on a set of vintage metal school lockers. The bidding concluded at $125, and the lockers went home with the granddaughter.
It seemed the auction swelled with the most spirited bidding when attentions were turned to the woodworking shop. Harris was a well known and talented woodworker and had acquired a lifetime of small hand tools as well as heavy machinery in his shop. It was noted by several in the crowd that Harris had built pieces as gifts for his church, but most evident was the extensive woodwork he had done in the house near his shops on the property. At one point, the auctioneer pointed out that when Rick would make a gift in the woodworking shop for his wife, he would add the letters “WAML,” which stood for “with all my love.”
Items sold in the wood working shop included a 1 horsepower portable dust collection system that sold for $225; a Craftsman 12 inch planer-molder that saw a high bid of $245, a 10 inch craftsman radial arm saw that sold for $300, and a 12 inch Chicago double level sliding miter saw that realized a high bid of $145.
A Guardian 5-speed bench power drill press realized $125, a Rockwell-Delta jigsaw with a stand sold for $45, a quick change drill set saw $500, a machine vise realized a high bid of $130, a belt sander sold for $160 a small anvil sold for $57.50, and a huge air compressor that the auctioneers announced would have to be taken down from a landing in the shop by a skid steer sold for $300.