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'American Pickers' go ‘Backroad Barnstorming’ on History Channel

Rural letter carrier with modified Model T with skis
Rural letter carrier with modified Model T with skis
Wikimedia Commons

Tonight's History Channel episode of "American Pickers" was titled "Backroad Barnstorming," starring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe. These professional pickers 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 the episode begins, the guys are in Connecticut when they hear from Danielle, who sends them to a farm where six generations have lived there. They spoke to the son Donny, but it is Joe the father who they will be dealing with. When they arrive, Donny has not told Joe about them yet, and he was surprised that the guys showed up. He was cordial and gave them the history of the property. It was a dairy farm until 1995 and with the railroad running through the property, they continuously milked cows and sent the milk to Boston via the railroad. In the 1800s, there was a tavern on the land as well.

Joe warmed up to the guys when he realized that Mike and Frank love to preserve history. The barns were immense and the items inside were there for maybe a hundred years. Mike got a bicycle from the turn of the century for $150; the tires were replaced with rope. Everything in the place was covered with rust and spider webs, but they just loved it all.

Frank and Mike were mesmerized by the things they found. There was a huge barrel that Joe had a picture of him as a teenager standing in front of, it came from India with coconut oil inside, they would not sell the barrel. Upstairs they found lots of cast iron toys from around the 1920s, and he got some of them. Mike found vintage clothing he got for $200, and some bicycle parts and a 1970s motorcycle jacket for $100.

In another building, they found more things in another barn, including the bird that was on the weather vane that came down during the 1938 New England Hurricane, the most destructive storm to strike the area in the 20th century, it was known as the Long Island Express. A Rhode Island house was ripped from its foundation and floated across the bay to Connecticut. Luckily, the whole family inside survived. Mike offered Joe $1,500 for the eagle in the condition it was in. His one wing was badly bent and to fix it, would cost a pretty penny. Then they found the rest of the weather vane; it was growing into a tree and got the whole piece for $1,800. When the guys left, both the father and son and the pickers were all happy.

When they left the first place, Dani called with one more lead. It was another father and son in nearby Vermont. Fred was the father, and a tough negotiator at 93 years of age, and Dan was the son. The property was gigantic. There were many rusted out tractors on the property and one room was an old classroom from a one-room schoolhouse. They moved it there when the building was being torn down. Inside they found a picture of a pretty woman, it was a Chesterfield cigarette ad from the 1930s when the manufacturer was attempting to bring smoking to the female gender, Mike got it for $25.

Looking further, they found old carriages and even a stagecoach. Nearly all the farms in Vermont had a sugar house, where they kept their equipment for getting sap from the maple trees. Back in the day, sugar was imported to the colonies, and maple syrup replaced the expensive sugar cane. Mike got a sap barrel for $200 from the 1900s. Mike got a 1930s Buick radiator for $100. Then they saw something they have never seen before; skis for a Model T, where the front tires could be converted into a snowmobile using the skis with tracks for the back. Throughout the 1920s, the Model T ski attachment kits were popular among rural mailmen and country doctors. When Fred did not want to sell them, Mike threw a number at him and got them for $600, and an amazing find. Just as they were pulling away, Fred decided to sell them the anchor from Cape Cod for $500, provided Mike sent him some buggy lamps for his stagecoach, it was surprising to see how fast he could run at 93, and he remembered so much of the history of the items he had on this episode of "American Pickers."

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