CROOKSTON, Minn. — A Minnesota man has turned fond memories of a childhood toy into a full-sized ride.
Now, Allan Dregseth cruises around Crookston behind the wheel of not-so-little red wagon.
“I’m kind of kid at heart,” the 83-year-old retired beet farmer says.
Allan spent three months transforming a $300 junkyard Pontiac convertible into a motorized, man-sized replica of the Radio Flyer wagon he’d played with as a boy.
“You don't see many of these,” Allan says with a laugh. “Not too many (people) stupid enough to try and build one I guess.”
It’s not the first time Allan has paid tribute to his beloved childhood wagon. Not only does he still have the wagon, he restored it and displays the wagon in the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Museum that he helped found.
Allan also keeps at the museum a black-and-white photograph of himself as a young boy, pulling the wagon he’d outfitted with wooden sides, piled high with hay.
He points to some handwriting at the bottom of the photo. “You can see my mother has written on the bottom, ‘Allan hauling hay,’” he says.
With no doors through which to enter, Allan must climb over the sides of his motorized wagon to reach the driver’s seat. Once inside, he says the wagon drives, for the most part, like the car on which it's built.
Allan fabricated the wagon’s sides out of aluminum he’d purchased, but never used, for a truck trailer. A local body shop helped Allan print the eye-catching Radio Flyer decals that grace the wagon’s sides.
“Took me about three months to get it all finished,” Allan says. “If you've got an idea, you're never too old to go ahead and do it,” he adds.
Scott Maves, owner of Crookston’s True Value Hardware store, sells Radio Flyer wagons. He gets a kick out of seeing Allan driving around town.
“Isn’t that car a classic, just like Al,” he says, as Allan pulls up to the store.
Plenty of men Allan's age have purchased convertibles to make themselves feel younger.
Allan has taken that feeling a step beyond.
“Just riding in a Radio Flyer wagon makes me feel younger,” he says.
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