August 20, 2007

Barn gets brunt of winds

Even though roof comes down, family treasures are fished out in fairly good shape

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

“Work, work, work,” said Gladys Broll of rural Waverly about the two-story barn that received unrepairable damage to its roof during an early morning storm Aug. 11.

“I thought I was pretty well done for this year (project-wise) before this happened,” Gladys’ husband, Larry said.

Part of the storm-struck, two-story barn was built in 1940, and another section in 1953. It was well cared for, the paint is only three years old and the shingles are fairly new, as well.

However, the Brolls have decided not to rebuild the structure, even though the subfloor is intact.

“We’ve got the equipment (to tear the barn down and clean it up),” Larry said, to which his granddaughter, Katherine Opsal replied, “Yeh, grandkids!”

A few treasures need to be fished out of the structure before the barn completely comes down, and the Brolls are hoping to find those treasures in salvageable shape.

A 1923 Buick pickup was unharmed after the collapse because the subfloor of the barn remained intact, Larry said.

“Buick didn’t make a 1923 pickup, it was a car that was shortened up by a farmer and made into a truck. Even the title was changed to read ‘pickup.’ It was common practice back then,” Larry said.

However, the hayloft, which totally collapsed, housed many items from two refrigerators, antiques, and miscellaneous, to family heirlooms.

Larry’s grandfather had made several replica buildings of the old Broll homestead including the farmhouse, a pig barn, a chicken coop, and a garage. Each building replica stood about two to three feet tall and used to be displayed in the yard, complete with living flower beds.

The replicas were stored in the hayloft and were feared crushed under the roof until the Broll’s grandson, Andy Ollig emerged from sifting through the wreckage with one replica at a time.

All were found with either no or minor damage to them.

“The only thing that saved them was a steel barrel that they were sitting next to that acted to keep the barn roof from crushing them,” Gladys said.

The storm moved in

Grandson Andy Ollig was working on some welding projects in their shop during those early morning hours because it’s much cooler in the summer to stay up late and do that type of work, he said.

“I had the door to the shop open. The wind started blowing and rain started coming in so I went to shut the door and heard tin banging and then a roar (which was the barn coming down),” Ollig said.

As soon as the wind died down a bit, Ollig jumped in his car and headed for home, which is only a half mile away. Enroute, the wind picked up again and because he was hydroplaning already due to heavy rain, Ollig said a strong wind gust actually spun his car around.

“It was an adrenalin rush,” he said.

“Then, he decided to watch the movie ‘Twister,’” Ollig’s mom, Julie Opsal laughed.

“It wouldn’t be the first time I did that,” Ollig said. “The last time we had a tornado warning, I threw in ‘Twister’ – surround sound, man!” he laughed.

The barn will be missed

Before the Brolls quit the animal side of their farming operation, they had cows, pigs, and steers in the barn.

“We’re going to miss that thing. Every farm has to have an old-time barn,” Gladys said.

“We used to have barn dances up there,” Julie said. “We even had my wedding reception up there,” she added.

In fact, Gladys said she was recently thinking about having another barn dance in the hayloft, and that her nieces have been getting interested in old-time music and had inquired about having a party up there.

A mandoor, located on the upper face of the barn, had been made years ago for entrance to the loft “just so people could get in there,” Gladys said. A mobile stairway was also made and placed beneath the opening.

Family and friends would often spend time just sitting in that doorway and taking in the view.

“After the roof came down, my grandson, John said, ‘I’m going to have to tell Grandpa to re-shingle the barn, and this time, he should use a level,’” Gladys laughed.

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