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'American Pickers' are almost as ‘Mad as a Picker’ on History Channel

American Pickers were on assignment to get vintage items for Dollywood
Photo by Rick Diamond

Tonight's History Channel episode of "American Pickers" was titled "Mad as a Picker," starring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe. The professional pickers that travel across not only the United States, but over the world picking through treasures covered with dust and rust from age, and love every minute of their hunt as cobwebs and dead animals don’t scare them a bit.

As the episode begins, Mike is still in Iowa fixing the new extension and adorning it with the latest and greatest finds. Danielle announces to Mike that she received an email, and the people from Dollywood want the “American Pickers” to pick for them. They are opening a new roller coaster called the Fire Chaser Express. This roller coaster will be dedicated to the fire chasers who keep the Smokey Mountains free from fire and fought any fires that threatened these awesome mountains in the 1930s and 1940s. They sent Danielle a list of things they will need from that era; gas pumps, a pole mounted gas-station sign, and several firefighting items; extinguishers, hoses & nozzles, axes & picks, and miscellaneous gear. They will need this stuff in two weeks.

Mike knows that they have picked for Civil War museums and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, so this should not be too difficult, but Frank is away in Florida with Dave, so they are put on the job too, and Danielle sends them to a great lead. They meet with John, who puts them to work helping him load his truck. John’s prices are out of line with what the guys want to pay, and he tells them that he plans to live as long as he can and irritate as many people as he can. John has a laugh that is irritating enough to do sound effects at a haunted house. Frank bought two signs for Dollywood; one was for Kelly Tires, and the other Exide Batteries. When Dave found an old trophy, he had to have it, but John would not budge, and he bought it for $250.

As they searched further, Dave found an old carnival locomotive sign, the firm price was $850 and Dave did not even bother haggling. When it was time for them to leave, they made John help them load their truck.

When they heard from Mike, he sent them to a previous pick to see Judge Miller. He is a petroliana collector and was raised in his grandfather’s Standard Oil gas station. Everything the guys saw was not something he could part with, the judge would not budge. Finally, Dave found a Gulflex sign Dave offered $100 and the judge took the offer, and Frank was shocked. Soon the judge loosened up and they guys started buying. They got lots of stuff for the shop and especially for Dollywood.

When they left Judge Miller and his son Jeff, they heard from Danielle, who sent them to a guy who has an old general store. The place was like something from a 1950s Western movie. They found Raymond, who was a cross between Kris Kristofferson and Kurt Russell. Raymond stops at every garage sale, flea market and anyone who is selling something from long ago. They found a large fire extinguisher from the 1920s on wheels for an industrial operation to have on hand if needed. This was before the emergency phone numbers or even telephones were around. So calling the fire department was not an option. They acquired it for $750, and it will look great at Dollywood.

Mike’s friend Carl had a gasoline sign and a pole that the Dollywood people desperately wanted, Carl said he would sell it, but there was one problem; it was half buried under ice and snow, with two days to the deadline.

Raymond had visible gasoline pumps and sold two of them; one restored and one unrestored for $5,250 for the pair, and just knew Dollywood would never be the same once they had these relics.

Three months later, in Dollywood, Danielle and Lauren were visiting, to see how the signs and vintage items were put to use. The Tydol sign was clearly displayed. She and Mike got it from his good friend who even took it out of the ice for them. The items they got for the park were so great, that everyone who comes there will get a history lesson in addition to a thrilling roller-coaster-ride. When Danielle and Lauren met Dolly Parton, she insisted they took a ride, Danielle was frightened, and just when she thought it was over, the roller coaster went backwards. She loved the memorabilia and how they displayed it, but as for the ride, once was enough on this episode of "American Pickers."

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