ary Russeth started making plastic model cars when he was 10 years old. At age 15, he decided to craft his own car models out of wood. Fast forward several decades, the Laurel and Hardy buff decided to take his love of craft a step further by building a full-size model of the iconic Model T Ford that the comic duo often drove in their films.
That was in 1992 and today Russeth has crafted seven full-size models of early 1900s automobiles, all on display in his Harlem museum, Ollie Also and Stanie Too—Fine Mess Old Car Museum.
His garage museum is decorated inside and out with images of Laurel and Hardy. Many were crafted by Russeth himself, from the fiberglass Stan and Ollie who greet visitors to a working calliope featuring their dancing figures.
But it’s the cars that boggle visitors’ minds. Only one—a beautiful, honey-stained model—looks like wood; the others appear to be real, metal working cars. All the doors open, the steering wheels turn and the black Ford Model T even has wooden key and a “working” engine that spews out sawdust exhaust.
Today, neuropathy keeps Russeth from building any more full-size car replicas. Still, his museum continues to expand with his other creative works, designed not to sell, but to enjoy and to be enjoyed.
The Ollie Also and Stanie Too—Fine Mess Old Car Museum is open by appointment only by calling (706) 556-1419. The Oliver Hardy Festival is Saturday, October 5, in downtown Harlem, birthplace of Oliver Hardy.