INOLA, Okla. - After leaving the army in 1973, Mike Fuller found his passion: Collecting automotive-related memorabilia.
Located in Inola, Okla. at 22 N. Broadway Ave., passersby can find an old fire engine and train sitting in front of a stone structure.
At one time, the hemicylindrical building played host to the Inola High School basketball team.
Today, half of the bleachers are ripped out and the oak floor where shoes once squeaked is now home to Mike Fuller's Auto & Gas Museum.
Upon entering through the building's garage door, a guest takes a step back in time. One can gaze upon some 150 gas globes, a half-dozen visible gas pumps, hundreds of antique tools and toy cars, old trunks, vintage gas station signage and 21 classic cars dating back to 1917.
"I've always had an interest in the past. I think it was happier times and good times, even though it might have been rougher in a lot of ways," Fuller says about the passion he has for his collection.
Fuller says he can't get rid of anything. He calls it a sickness as he looks upon a century's worth of automobilia.
He still owns the first car he bought at the age of 16: A Model A Ford. That classic can only be found at Fuller's home.
The old Inola gymnasium wasn't always a museum to Fuller.
"I just called it a big toy box is what I called it," he says with laughter.
It was Fuller's patrons who dubbed the "big toy box" Mike Fuller's Auto & Gas Museum. And he's had thousands walk through the shop over the last 18 years.
He says some stay for three hours, while others stay for five minutes. Either way, it's nearly impossible to see or even comprehend the totality of the collection.
Admission to the museum is free. All one needs is an interest in history and a love for the automobile and all of the ancillary pieces that come with it. He just asks that museum goers sign his guest book.
"I've had people from all over the world. I've had people from Germany in here, Australia, all over the United States from one end to the other."
When he's not out for a ride with his dog, Buddy, Fuller is at the museum. He asks those interested in seeing the museum to give him a call. He'll be happy to open it up. His phone number is 918-906-5192.
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