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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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‘American Pickers' visited Sandwich farmer

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Sept 8, 2015

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

Some readers may remember a news story back in 2010 about John Wagner, a Sandwich Fair official, being paid a visit by two guys from a TV series called “American Pickers.” on the History Channel. One day in the fall of 2009 John got a call out of the blue from Danielle Colby, one of the stars of the show, asking if she could send Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz to his farm and pick through his outbuildings. After a date was selected, they pulled up in their white panel van with a TV crew behind them and spent the entire day searching through John’s collections of old stuff, finding enough to fill their van and writing John a nice check for the items.

John told me recently he never did find out who tipped Danielle about his lifetime of accumulations, and even went to their Antiques Archaeology store in LeClaire, Iowa, one time to try and find her.

Recently, I visited LeClaire and their antiques business where the show originated. Just my luck, Mike and Frank were out of town taping the next season’s shows and Danielle was not there either. Talking to the store manager Emily Gwin, I found out Danielle stays away most of the time, working out of her home, because of the hordes of tourists who want to talk to her, take a selfie, and admire her tattoos.

Danielle, a burlesque dancer in her earlier life, does

As seen on the TV show, this old Nash sets in front of one of the buildings at the LeClaire, Iowa store site. In back to the right is the van Mike and Frank used in earlier TV seasons on the History Channel. (Barry Schrader photos)

Columnist Barry Schrader holds one of the American Pickers’ Antique Archaeology logo T-shirts, standing next to Emily Gwin, store manager in LeClaire.

make quite a splash with fans of “American Pickers,” and they were in abundance there that day with cameras, just like me. I settled for a photo with Emily, who has been on the show with Danielle already this past season.

By talking to employees, I found out that Mike owns the business and has opened a second store in Nashville, Tennessee, which draws even bigger crowds because of its location and the fact they have live music there three nights a week. Mike’s sidekick, Frank, owns another antiques store in Savanna, Illinois, called Frank Fritz Picks.

I was overwhelmed with the variety of antiques, collectibles, bicycles, motorcycle and car parts squeezed into the two store buildings in LeClaire and it reminded me somewhat of the Northern Thrift Store on North Seventh Street in DeKalb. Mike and Frank have published three books on picking, including one for children to get them interested in collecting at an early age.

They have definitely elevated the derogatory image of “pickers” into an art form, as they wade through barns and sheds in half the states in the Union. Their trained eyes can often spot a treasure that could be a candidate for “Antiques Roadshow,” another of my favorite TV programs.

Now if I could just get them to back up their van to my basement door and pick a load, it would make my wife Kay very happy….

I should also mention that LeClaire is the hometown of “Buffalo Bill” Cody and a museum highlighting his life is a must stop if you are in town, which is only a two-hour drive from DeKalb.

On another subject related to my last column: I learned more about the late Sycamore society writer Sada Lillia from Jerry Taylor, a former neighbor of hers on High Street in Sycamore back in the 1960s. The home’s owners, Louis and Jennie Richardson, were relatives; Jennie was Sada’s sister. The house was actually sold to Jim Womack by the son, James Richardson, after his father Louis had died.
It is believed Sada then moved to Genoa to live with or near her cousin Louise Stroberg, another long-time society correspondent for the Genoa Republican.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115