Note: This feature is in the December TF 2017 issue
Most farm toy collectors attend toy shows to find a treasure or two from atop a vendor's table. When Dwayne Van Roekel attends the Greater Midwest Toy Show in Sioux Falls, S.D., he sours the boxes underneath the vendor tables, looking for rejected, broken toys.
From his workbench in Corsica, S.D., Dwayne then carefully restores his discoveries to their original luster, rescuing the toys like Santa Claus' rescue of the "Island of Misfit Toys" in the classic Christmas tale.
"When I go to the toy show in Sioux Falls, I walk around and look underneath the tables," he explains.
"It's been fun collecting toys, but restoring is my favorite. If you can fix one up and make it look like new, that's pretty special, I think."
Dwayne still lives in the same community where he was born, Corsica, S.D., with memories of brothers. He remembers chores on the farm such as feeding the chickens, milking cows by hand and tending to the bigs and calves, as well as cleaning the barn and chicken coops. As he got older, he joined 40H and raised a couple of calves, and he began helping neighbors with the farm work.
"The first tractor I drove was a FOrd 8N with a two-bottom plow at about 12 years of age. It seemed like fun for awhile," Dwayne recalls. "When Dad bought a new tractor, an IH 350 utility, that was exciting to have two tractors in one field."
While Dwayne had experience with real farm equipment, he doesn't recall playing with many of his own farm toys as a child.
"Not having too many toys as a young kid friends' toys were fun to play with," he remembers. "My brothers and I made some toys out of wood. We had thread spools, blocks and marbles. For birthdays or CHristmas, we got clothes which were appreciated."
After graduating from high school, Dwayne worked for another farmer during one summer. Then, he took a job at the local elevator and also did plumbing and heating work.
"The opportunity came to my three brothers and I to buy a service station and bulk gas and fuel trucks in 1979. I drove truck and enjoyed being out in the country," Dwayne says. "Two brothers are now retired, so my youngest brother and I have a bulk fuel truck and an LP truck, plus a recycling and garbage business."
But Dwayne didn't discover farm toys until later in life.