If ever there was an example of overcompensation, Ron Bard fits the bill.

Ron and Rita Bard relax on a custom made bench they had made from a Corvette at their home in Litchfield. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

While most overcompensate for lack of self-esteem or to show off, Bard did it to make up for what was missing during his childhood: toys.

Today, he is a wealthy man, both financially and with life’s experiences. He is still married to the love of his life, and has no wants or worries. But a lack of toys as a child was something he never got over.

He has made up for it — and then some. When every room and addition in their Litchfield house could hold no more, Ron and his wife, Rita, built a large building — dubbed “Ron’s Toy Box” — just for the toys and other shiny objects that caught their eye over the past 30 years.

“It was just something we wanted to do for ourselves and not make a big deal of it,” he said.

Only a handful of close friends and family have ever had the opportunity to play in the Toy Box.

“It’s not for show,” Ron says in a soft, raspy voice that hints at his failing health, which is one reason they decided to contact an auction company to sell the collection, which has an estimated worth of more than $1 million.

Ron Bard puts one of his newest and prized trucks into one of the 42 custom made cabinets in his “toy box” on his property in Litchfield. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Over the Labor Day weekend, nine workers carefully and painstakingly photographed, inventoried and wrapped each item before taking away the vast majority of his collectible of Smith-Miller toy trucks and cars, road signs, bicycles, gas pumps and dozens of unique and limited-edition mint condition items. One of the auctioneers was awestruck when packing up the collection.

There will be a series of auctions at a later date and location yet to be determined.

Growing up in a large and loving family in Fort Kent, Bard’s family struggled to make ends meet, and there was never any extra money for gifts.  During third grade, Bard fell ill and missed a year of school. When fourth grade started, he was too embarrassed to stay back and did not want to go back to school.  His father gave him a job and eventually his entrepreneurial skills and charisma made him a wealthy man.

As a teen, Ron’s dad got him a job in Waterville. He would hang out at the neighborhood mom-and-pop shop, where the owner recognized his intelligence and moral character.  It did not take long for the shopkeeper to arrange for his daughter to be around when Ron stopped in and before long the two fell in love and would enjoy a long life together.

They are not shy to say how lucky they were to have found each other, and how much their zest for having fun and love of travel and exploring have kept them busy while running dozens of junkyards all over the state, buying and selling rental properties and cars and offering to buy whatever else caught their eye.

The basement of Ron and Rita Bard’s home in Litchfield is filled with many collectables from when they were on a Coca-Cola collecting spree. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

They spent many years traveling the country in a motor home, often stopping and dickering with homeowners when they spotted something one of them wanted.

Now it is time to sell and do something different. They both look forward to something new, but old habits are hard to quit.

“He just bought something the other day and has his eye on something else,” Rita said, causing them both to laugh while sitting at their home, which would soon have a lot of room for new “junk.”

A section of Ron’s Toy Box that he built about 20 years ago to house his collection of “junk” as he refers to it. Many highly saught after Smith-Miller metal trucks fill 42 custom made cabinets Bard had made by Amish craftsmen from Pennsylvania. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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