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Pieces of Tragic History Auctioned

April 4, 1998

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) _ How much would you bid for the ambulance that carried presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to a hospital? What’s the value of the rusting 1966 Buick Electra in which movie star Jayne Mansfield was killed?

Everything from the ghastly to the bizarre to the historic went up for auction Saturday at the Tragedy in U.S. History Museum. Everything from antique torture devices to bear traps to a car that happened to carry President Kennedy in Fort Worth, Texas, hours before his death in Dallas.

The museum was the passion of L.H. ``Buddy″ Hough, who amassed the collection over three decades. He died two years ago and his widow, Debra, closed the museum in March _ it was never very successful, she said _ and decided to sell the entire strange assortment.

Hough never considered his eclectic collection strange.

``He didn’t want it to be morbid, it was history,″ Ms. Hough said.

The auction drew crowds of history buffs and the simply curious.

In early bidding, old newspaper clippings were snatched up for $7.50 to $15. A pair of bronze busts of presidents Kennedy and Lincoln went for $35.

Nancy Smith, of Brasher Falls, N.Y., paid $125 for an antique rifle, though she didn’t know the model or how old it was.

``It’ll look good over the fireplace,″ she said.

Also scheduled for sale was the car in which Mansfield died in a traffic accident in 1967. It was once described as ``crumpled like a piece of tinfoil after a cookout,″ with its roof torn off and its front end smashed.

Frank Bird of Lake Como took a look at the rusted wreckage and declared: ``It’s not worth nothing.″

Retired farmer L.A. Braunagel of Devil’s Lake, N.D., disagreed. ``To me, it has some historical value,″ he said.

Other items up for bidding: furniture from Oswald’s Dallas apartment and the ambulance that took him to a hospital after he was fatally wounded, a bullet-riddled car said to have been used by bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, a black Lincoln touring car used by Kennedy, and copy of Elvis Presley’s will.

Hough got the idea for the museum after watching news reports of the Kennedy assassination on television, said Charlene Brimmer, a family friend and spokeswoman for the auction.

``People like tragedy, it’s human nature,″ Ms. Brimmer said.

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