CHOCTAW — When their father, Albert, died in January, brothers Max and Bert Hester knew they would have their hands full sorting through the layers of antiques stored in their parents’ Choctaw home.
They never imagined the experience of handling the antiques would be as interesting, or as difficult, as it was.
Albert Hester, 87, died in January. He was preceded in death by his wife, Maxine, who died in 2012. They had been married for 65 years and much of that time was shared exploring their mutual passion of collecting and selling antiques.
The fruit of all those years of labor will be available at an auction Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2418 N Harper in Choctaw. There will be a preview from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday.
“They loved all the traveling they got to do together,” Maxine’s sister, Jimmie King, said. “There was quite a lot of it. They went so many places and they’d be so proud of what they brought home.”
But when Albert Hester died, the business of sorting it all out fell on the surviving family members, including Bert Hester’s wife, Liz. Over four months the family worked on weekends to organize the house and get items ready to sell.
Bert Hester has been coming down from his home in Sapulpa, and Max, a San Antonio resident, has been in Choctaw off and on before temporarily moving into his parent’s old home for the final few weeks of auction preparation. Both men are retired.
‘It’s just crazy’
When their father died, the brothers knew they had a lot of work ahead, but the amount of items left them virtually speechless.
“When you go down to the shop, it’s just crazy,” Bert Hester said. “It’s tenfold of what’s in the house. It was their shop when we were kids. They kept the building and used it for storage when they started traveling. They’d just back the truck up and drop it off and keep filling it up. We found it in layers.”
The shop is an old Tinker Air Force Base barracks purchased for $1 by Albert in 1971 and moved to Choctaw. Today it is chock full of items the couple collected. In one room, antique wooden trunks are stacked to the ceiling.
Some of the couple’s collection ended up in the movie “Twister.”
“The production company bought two semis worth of antiques from them and rented some other items,” Liz Hester said. “They really enjoyed that a lot, even if it was on screen for just a few minutes.”
Going through the items has been both liberating and emotional for the family. Bert is ready to get the auction done and move on, he said. He remembers family vacations centered around them, however.
“They really were great parents,” Bert Hester said. “They’d stop and make sure we got to do a lot of fun stuff. But he’d always take some dinky highway through the back-country and they’d find these antique stores. And he was ornery about it. He’d drive past them, and we’d think they weren’t going to stop and then he’d circle back and we’d be there for five hours.”
The items in the auction vary. There are more than 100 pieces of antique crockery, tables, antique toys, wagons and desks. More than 2,000 items will be available for the three-day auction.
The brothers also plan to put the family home, built in the late 1920s, up for sale at some point this summer as well. Sorting through their parents’ lives has been emotional at times.
“We’re at peace with them being gone because we know they’re not hurting anymore and they’re together,” Max Hester said. “I think we all are just ready to move on and get these items sold. They’re not doing anyone any good just sitting in a building.”
The brothers said they never got into antiques much, but they understand the appeal to others.
“It bothers me a little bit,” Bert Hester said. “But I’ve got the heirloom pieces that are special to me and I’m ready to move on.”
Liz Hester said her in-laws were always special to her. She recalls working part time for Albert Hester sorting antiques. She never took home any monetary pay, but took home plenty of antiques for her effort.
“I was telling my kids it’s like grieving all over again,” she said. “My kids grew up coming to this house and they always had to be careful about what they touched or where they sat. It will be tough when we see that house empty and we walk out the door for the last time.”
If you go
When: Preview, 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday. Auction, Friday through Sunday.
Where: 2418 N Harper in Choctaw
For more information on the auction, call (918) 482-3947.