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Were the American Pickers in Walla Walla?… no it was just Dave, Barry, and Neva….

March 8, 2012

A local farmer, Bill, came into Shady Lawn Antiques and asked if I would like to go out to his farm to look at some antiques.  This is the sort of thing that antique dealers have done for decades.

Bill (left) and his Farm-hand Matthew…

For three seasons, the widely acclaimed television series, the American Pickers, has documented this process.  In this reality television series, Danielle finds leads for Mike and Frank who are out on the road looking for antiques and collectibles.

I have so many items that I now look for only the oldest, most unusual and unique items to add to the Shady Lawn Antiques inventory.   My neighbors, Barry and Neva, have a love for antiques that led them to renting a space in a local antique mall.  They tend to deal in different items than I do, so I invited them along.

If you watch cable television and you are in the antique business, then you can’t help but talk about “The Pickers.”  So when we met in front of our houses to go ‘picking’, we decided that I should be “Mike” because I was the tallest.

That left Barry to be “Frank” – unless we decided to go and bid on Storage Lockers.  Then Barry would have to be “Barry” but that’s a different show (Storage Wars).  I don’t think that Neva has any tattoos but she still got to be Danielle.

Once that was settled we drove north out of Walla Walla on the Middle Waitsburg Road.  It is a small two lane country road that is absolutely beautiful this time of the year.  The not quite spring countryside is coming to life and it just seems fresh and clean.  The rolling hills alternate between the yellow stubble of summer fallow and the bright green of winter wheat (it is planted in the fall and then it “winters” over).

Headed north on Middle Waitsburg road…

I can just picture Mike and Frank driving down some country back-road and saying ‘hey look at that… a farm that has been here so long that the farmers name and the road name are the same.’  Well that was where we were headed…

The ‘American Picker’s’ introduction:  “Each item we pick has a history all its own and the people we meet are a breed all their own.”  …

Bill showed us all around his farm – he was born, raised, and spent all but four of his nearly seventy years there.  First we looked at items in and around a small storage building behind his house.

Then we walked a couple of hundred yards and looked at items in his bunk house.  Back in the day, workers stayed in the bunk house during harvest.  Room and board was the worker’s benefit… the farmers benefit was that every morning he knew where his crew was – no over-sleeping.

Dave’s note:  The ‘Harvest Tables’ that I re-create out of reclaimed barn-wood were originally knocked together to feed similar harvest crews.  When harvest was over they were knocked apart and that is why no originals exist…

Then we took a look inside an old one-room schoolhouse, that had been moved onto the farm in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.  Bill said that it took three days to move it twenty miles   I’m thinking that the schoolhouse would be too big to be a legal load in this day and in this age.

Next we looked at a couple of huge racks of rusty old farm machinery parts.  This stuff was exactly the kind of early 1900’s farm/industrial rusty iron stuff that is so popular right now.  Bill could tell me exactly what piece of equipment each piece came off of.

only a part of the great pile of rusty iron…

Our picking was done but Bill showed us around inside his huge machine shop.  As recently as the mid-1990’s Bill kept four men working all winter repairing farm equipment.  Both the times and the economy have changed…

Mike and Frank often say something to the effect that ‘time is money’ and that ‘we need to be buying something or moving on’…

Well I bought a few things and then I hung around and took pictures of rusty old farm equipment for over an hour… some business and some pleasure.  Bill, thanks for the opportunity to spend some time in the country with you.

sage brush hung up in an old hay rake…

Gear on an old piece of farm equipment…

Bill had never heard of the American Picker’s television show – they only get four channels on their antenna…


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