Julius Selle: Toy maker and Packer backer
When Julius Selle was a kid he didn't have any toys, so he made his own.
The 77-year-old Hudsonite combined the self-taught art of toy making with a love for the Green Bay Packers he has nurtured since the 1940s and produced a number of Packer related items, not the least of which is a train displayed over an archway in his house that includes 34 cars and is 15 feet long when stretched out end to end.
The entire train is hand carved down to minute details including a car hauling a wedge of cheese and another piled with miniature logs.
"I started making toys when I was about two years old," he said while showing a visitor his collection. "I didn't have any toys growing up on a farm in Clayton, so I made my own. I tucked them away on a ledge in a barn. My dad sold the farm and I don't know what happened to them."
"I used Tinker Toys for the wheels," he said.
Selle said he has been a Packer fan since before he joined the Army in 1949 at age 17 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division. He left the Army in 1952, married his wife Alice in 1957 and they have lived at the same address on the corner of St. Croix and Second streets since 1960.
In the meantime he continued to dabble in toy making and other carpentry projects while he worked for Andersen Windows. He started making the Packer train before he retired 20 years ago. "When the Packers won the Super Bowl (1997), he really got into it," said Alice.
Selle even sent one of his Packer creations to the late defensive end Reggie White and received a thank you note and a Christmas card from the All-Pro and his family.
He also made smaller versions of the Packer train and sold them out of his car solely by word of mouth advertising. "They sold for $5 a car and a five-car train was the average," Selle said.
He added a dressed up red version of the train cars with Christmas themes such as holly sprigs painted on them for the holiday season.
He has a special collection of automobile and trucks in a natural finish that aren't for sale. Selle said they will go to his one and only grandchild, Amanda, a 17-year-old high school student in Amery.
The Selles raised one son, Randy, who graduated from Hudson High School in 1976 and also worked at Andersen in Bayport, Minn.