Note to readers: Barry Schraders 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 Johns
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 seasons 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. Mikes
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
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
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 homes owners, Louis and Jennie Richardson,
were relatives; Jennie was Sadas 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.