Bill O'Quin needs a garage. Make that another garage.
Over the past year or so, O'Quin's collection of vehicles — cars, firetrucks, tractors, go-karts, just about anything with wheels — has been squeezed out of his large double garage to make room for his other collections of LSU souvenirs, patriotic tokens and firetruck memorabilia, along with lots of oddball and interesting treasures.
"Every time he goes out, he comes home with a truck full of new stuff," said Gail O'Quin, his wife.
It's now officially his man cave, complete with a name — Mr. Red's Bar, Barn and Laundromat.
Laundromat is in the name because, well, the space still serves as the family laundry room. And he's collected vintage washtubs to sit atop the functioning washer and dryer.
"Just for the look," he said.
Bar is pretty self-explanatory, but, as a reminder, Bill O'Quin has a collection of nonworking clocks, all set to cocktail time, 5 p.m.
And Mr. Red is the name the couple's granddaughter, Sarah Kate Conger, gave to the big red tractor (now sitting outside) that he bought off the side of the road outside Clinton. It's a substitute for his real firetruck, which is undergoing extensive repairs. He drives the firetruck, the Spirit of St. Patrick's, in the St. Patrick's Day Parade and on special occasions.
"We call the firetruck O'Quin's Volunteer Fun Department," said Bill O'Quin, who served in the Army as a helicopter pilot from 1967-71, including a tour in Vietnam. He has had a real firetruck since he was 35.
Converting the garage to a party space was not easy. Sliding barn doors were installed and wood flooring and synthetic turf added over the concrete floors. Bill O'Quin even sheathed plastic shelving with wood and doctored up an old folding table with some of the wood flooring. He sanded down an old refrigerator and painted it in LSU purple and gold, leaving the sides white for patriotic and firetruck displays.
Most of his building materials are found items or big bargains.
"He scouts around trying to find old wood pallets," said his wife.
A lot of stuff in the room pays tribute to LSU's fabulous football season, including a small keepsake box with magazines and clippings about Joe Burrow and coach Ed Orgeron.
"I keep this near the table so people can sit down and read the articles about the season," he said.
He has signed footballs from Coach O and former coach Les Miles and a signed baseball from LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri.
"As LSU was doing better and better, I added more and more things," he said.
And, of course, there's a TV, a 50-inch flat screen that anchors one corner fronted by a couple of Adirondack chairs, a woven leather fold-up chair a friend brought back from Honduras and a short row of theater seats.
Wooden shelves hold his collection of miniature fire trucks purchased from the estate of Robbie Giroir, a neighbor, and part of a collection of 50 fine animal figurines he bought at the estate sale of a taxidermist in Bocage.
"My only regret is that I didn't buy more," Bill O'Quin said.
In a place of honor is a certificate commemorating the donation the O'Quins made of a room at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in memory of Bell and Pudel, two dogs that belonged to Mary Bird Perkins, a family friend for whom the center is named. Bill O'Quin is a cancer survivor and a big supporter of the cancer center.
Gail O'Quin is delighted with the party room because it has become the location of all of his hobbies that involve painting and fixing and because he has moved his many collections out of the house.
"This thing just slowly evolved," Bill O'Quin said. "I kept adding things."