On June 30, 2018, Antique Archaeology hosted their 2nd ever Kid Picker Flea Market in downtown LeClaire, Iowa where the roles were flipped and the kids were the vendors and the adults were the customers. A total of 31 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 traveled with their families from all over the country to sell their antique/vintage/handmade treasures to the public—despite the sweltering heat index of 106 degrees! That didn’t stop the crowds of locals, tourists, Mike Wolfe, and his family, from coming out to support these young entrepreneurs.
Below are moments captured during Kid Picker Flea Market 2018 by LeClaire photographer, Kevin E. Schmidt/Maquoketa Studios.
The event kicked off with a motivational speech from the American Picker himself. Holding his 6-year-old daughter, Charlie, in his arms, Mike spoke to the crowd about celebrating a child’s mind and why it’s important to encourage a kid’s interest in collecting treasures, especially in the disposable/tech-saturated generation they’re growing up in. He also spoke directly to the kids urging them to follow their picking passions because they’re the ones who will be responsible for telling the stories of American industry and history for the next generation.
Mike declared the Flea Market open with a loud yell as the kids ran down to the levee along the Mississippi River. They assumed their positions at their booths which they had decorated themselves with homemade signs, business cards, and displays.
Picks ranged from traditional rusty gold and vintage advertising to toys and furniture.
During market hours, local businesses hosted events, bike races (provided by the River Valley Optimist Club), food and drinks (provided by Big Dave & Holly’s), a history exhibit of the telephone (presented by the Buffalo Bill Museum) and an upcycled craft with old keys (presented by Unique Creations and Fancy Pants Boutique) made possible by the donation of the members of Picker Nation. Even the LeClaire Fire Department fire truck came by to deliver some sweet relief from the heat with a bit of water.
Mike stayed for the entire event walking around visiting each booth, asking questions, and buying picks.
Flea market goers enjoyed LIVE music from Finding Home — a kids only family band.
Even Mike’s daughter Charlie had a booth set up with a little help from her Grandma Rheta, (Mike’s mom!)
The weather was hot, but the crowds were out in full force searching for their new favorite treasures.
“What leads us to leave places behind and what are the consequences of doing so?”
Matthew Christopher, a 39-year-old internationally acclaimed photographer, has spent the last decade documenting the forgotten structures of America. His current book, “Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream” is a catalog of American history that encourages the reader to ask, “What leads us to leave places behind and what are the consequences of doing so?”
His beautifully illustrated book focuses on 25 places that have been left behind, 240 pages and 150 color photographs that are a feast for both eyes and soul. Along with the images come the stories – some historical, some mysterious, some heart-breaking — that transport readers back to the time when these structures were alive and serving important functions in American life. Each has its history, tales waiting to be read and shared.
Influenced by the decline of state hospitals and their sometimes haunting history, Matthew’s first Abandoned America adventure was photographing the Philadelphia State Hospital.
“When out documenting these places, you’re quick to find your senses on full alert. If you hear a branch against a window or a pigeon fly across the room it can startle you.”
“The intention of this book is to be a gift for the next generation. I wanted to show them my generation’s past and how to approach their future. The theme throughout is, above all, hope. Hope that no place is ever really lost, so long as its story is shared. I want people to see these forgotten factories and closed schools as fixer-uppers and historic landmarks with a lot of fight left in them. I want to encourage everyone to see the potential behind the patina before building something new.”
Locations include one of Niagara Falls’ swankiest hotels, the country’s largest private zoo, and the world’s fastest ocean liner – which is also larger than the Titanic and the largest ship ever built on US soil. While some places are left to rest in piece, a few are in the process of being brought back to life, like the Variety Theatre in Cleveland.
Thanksgiving Day, 1927, the Variety Theatre opened with a screening of “Hula” featuring Clara Bow. For decades, audiences there enjoyed movies, concerts and live performances, marveling at the beauty of the theater as they sat in beneath tapestries and chandeliers in a 350-seat balcony — the largest of its kind west of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River. The theater was later bought by Warner Bros., and then by a succession of owners until it was closed in 1990 after the ceiling began to fall during a Motörhead concert. Years later, the surrounding community established the nonprofit Friends of the Historic Variety Theatre in an ongoing effort to rescue, restore and reopen the iconic theater.
“The revitalization of the Variety Theatre is heartwarming and hopeful. As I walked up to the theater doors I saw soggy, homemade Valentine’s cards taped up outside by the Cleveland community. The resurrection of the theater may represent hope for economic revitilization for the surrounding neighborhood as well.”
There’s a romanticism about the 20,000 square foot Spanish Gothic-style theater with its marble, glass and brass fixtures. The massive structure covers an entire city block and is filled with the remains of museum-quality early 20th century décor.
It is such an important site and the community has been so committed to its restoration and preservation that they were named winners of Antique Archaeology’s national This Place Matters campaign, launched in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As part of the celebration, Mike will travel there later this spring to congratulate the theater’s team in person and help create more media and public interest in their efforts.
“These forgotten places have personalities of their own. Exploring them initiates an internal connection that pushes you to ask yourself what your contribution to the world will be. The story doesn’t have to be over for places like the Fallside Hotel, the Randall Park Mall, or Gary, Indiana. Show people how you’ll aid in the aftermath.”
“All of these places I’ve photographed play a crucial part in American history in their own significant way. Listen to the stories of these locations; don’t let them be for nothing.”
Is there one of Matthew Christopher’s abandoned locations you’d like to explore or a revitalization project in your community? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow along with Matthew’s many Abandoned America adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
CLICK HERE to order your signed copy of Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream
In 2012, THE GLOW featured a darling write up with just dreamy photography on our two favorites – Jodi + Charlie Wolfe. THE GLOW is a site that glimpses into the world of inspiring and fashionable moms, featuring their “styling ideas, go-to gear, multitasking secrets, and enviable decor.” Perhaps we’re just a teeny-bit biased, but we think you’ll love reading into the world of Mama and Baby Wolfe. -Lauren
As mom of a twenty-four-year-old and a one-year-old, (now 28yrs and 4yrs) Jodi Faeth has the kind of highly honed mama instincts that come only from a lifetime of mothering. Walking into the sprawling Tennessee home she shares with her husband (and American Pickers star Mike Wolfe) is like traveling back in time—there are vintage motorcycles in the living room and a classic 1960s VW van parked outside. But it’s the home’s enveloping warmth that’s most striking. After a difficult labor and angst-filled year of multiple surgeries to correct a cleft palate, the proud parents are thankful for every healthy day they get to spend with baby Charlie.
[Editor’s note: In late December 2013, Jodi was diagnosed with stage 2 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.] “Believe it or not even vegan, exercising, juicing mama’s get cancer. I was the last one to expect it. Life was everything I could possibly dream of then bam…”
“I think I was more scared to become a mother again at 41 then when I had my son 24 years ago. The first time I was so young, but I also didn’t know any better. I didn’t research strollers, cribs, schools etc. back then. I keep reminding myself that my son turned out just fine and the most important thing I did with him and I will continue to do with Charlie is spend time with them without a phone, iPad or other distractions.”
“After finding out about Charlie’s condition in utero, we were devastated initially but quickly decided we could handle her birth defect and would embrace it and be strong for her. We were already so in love with this girl that nothing could have changed how we were feeling. When we returned to the doctor, we were advised to take all sorts of tests because once they find one birth defect, your chances of other syndromes are high (and I was forty-one years old at the time). I said no to any and all tests—I knew in my heart Charlie would be healthy, and I decided that I would not let any stress enter my otherwise healthy pregnancy. She was born January 30, 2012, weighing nine pounds four ounces. After my surgery, when I finally got to hold her and count all ten fingers and toes, all the worry was finally over. She was perfect, and we were ready to take on any obstacles she would face. We bonded immediately. She made a fist and shook it at my husband. I think she was mad about how long the whole thing took. At that moment, all of my dreams came true.”
“Feeding is usually the biggest issue for babies born with clefts. She lost weight right off the bat, but we figured out a solution by cutting a Y in the bottle’s nipple. Mike and I were so proud of her, we told everyone about her cleft and even shot her baby announcement photo with it. We had two surgeries the first year she was born. Those were tough. We are a team, and we stayed together every night at the hospital. Charlie is a strong girl—she even surprised the surgeons and got to go home early. We realize how fortunate we are that we had the resources to get Charlie the best doctors. We became ambassadors of Operation Smile, an organization that provides lifesaving surgeries for children in countries where the resources are not available. Charlie inspires us to be better people, and through this I hope the three of us can make a difference.”
“I am instilling strong will and confidence in my daughter every chance I get! Being born with a cleft lip and palate, Charlie will have to overcome some obstacles with speech and having a scar above her lip. I tell her every day what a strong, beautiful girl she is on the inside and out. I want my children to be givers, not takers, as that is the greatest expression of self-worth. That is how I will know I did my job right.”
“Giving my husband the daughter we always imagined was by far the most exciting moment for me. We were at a friend’s house a couple years ago listening to their 15 year old daughter play guitar and sing a song she wrote. My husband later told me what a feeling it must be to see your child do something so amazing like that. I thought to myself it was time we get serious about having our own. I wanted that feeling for him.”
“I didn’t have any drugs the first time around, so I wanted everything as natural as possible with Charlie. We had no idea she would be over nine pounds and that I would be in labor for twenty-eight hours before a C-section was necessary. While I was in recovery from my C-section, my husband showed me a picture of my son holding Charlie for the first time, and Kyle had tears in his eyes. We had gotten the girl we had dreamed about, and my son got the sister he never knew he wanted but fell so in love with. He later told me that he never expected to feel the way he does about his sister and that he will be there for her always.”
Best part of being a mom: “The wet kisses, and the blueberry pancakes in my hair. Kids make you remember your own childhood and how fun being silly can be. Not everything has to be so serious. ”
Hardest part of being a mom: “When your child feels disappointment and frustration in themselves. It’s heartbreaking, it happens as they grow. You have to let them work through it and realize they are individuals with all their own thoughts and feelings. As a mom, you just always want to make things better.”
“Raising Charlie in Tennessee, she will say ‘Ma’am’ and ‘Sir’. Kids are so polite here; I always loved that about this place! She will know how to dance because everyone does here. I can’t wait to see her out on the wood floor clogging or whatever! She has her own Airstream in our woods she will have overnights in. You can’t do that in the city! She will also realize how important family and community are. The South makes you slow down a bit and keep the important things in perspective.”
“My husband reminds me that our partnership is what we both believe in and when all the craziness is over it will just be us. I make him feel special by packing little notes and pictures of Charlie and I in his suitcase. He loves them.”
“I think we both work extra hard communicating and making sure the other person is OK. It’s hard being apart as much as we are and at times I feel like a single parent again. It’s hard for him to be away so much on the road. Charlie makes us work extra hard at all of this knowing we want her to grow up with two parents who not only love her but are so much in love. My husband never had a father around so I know this is something he wants more than anything.
“Mike had no idea, being a first time parent, that Charile may pee in the bathtub. He was like ‘Now we have to start all over’, and I said ‘Oh no, just pour a cup of water over her and call it a day’. We also used to joke about going to bed and saying ‘See you in 3 hours on the assembly line’. You just have to laugh at the lack of sleep new parents have to adjust to.”
A Few of Jodi’s Favorite Things…
“Walks through the woods together and Charlie’s baby feet in the creek.”
“Taking naps together when I can feel her breath on my face.”
“When she strums her guitar.”
“Watching her with my 25 year old son, Kyle, it is silliness, admiration and love all at one time.”
“Charlie’s big toe.”
“Happy Hour every Friday at Puckett’s, Leipers Fork, TN. Yes Charlie is expected to come. She is called the FORK baby!”
“My husband dressing Charlie in vintage finds he has picked for her.”
“Dark chocolate and Red wine (of course).”
“I am definitely already the disciplinarian. With my husband being gone so much, he does not want to touch that. She is a daddy’s girl and I love that for both of them. I am used to saying ‘No’ with my son so it doesn’t phase me.”
“We take her with us wherever we go now. She went with us to Hawaii for our honeymoon last September and is about to leave for Europe with us for three weeks.”
Order your EXCLUSIVE Antique Archaeology mug by Sunset Hill Stoneware HERE!
If you’re traveling down South, just before you hit Birmingham, is the small town of Cullman, Alabama. It’s clear by the gigantic billboards advertising alongside the interstate that Southern Accents Architectural Antiques is quite an attraction that happens to be nestled in a beautiful, historic building right in the middle of downtown. Tip: Don’t fiddle with your radio while you’re driving thru Cullman, or you’ll pass it.
Southern Accents was established in 1969 when Dr. Garlan Gudger Sr. began rescuing architectural elements from buildings in Cullman that were slated to be demolished. Never realizing his desire to rescue antique building materials would one day flourish into one of the largest architectural antique stores in the nation, Dr. Gudger consistently did what he loved – rescuing, restoring and protecting architectural salvage. The rest of the story goes that before the shop was opened, Garlan Sr.’s collection started spreading out of the house and into the garage. Word gets around in a small town, and it wasn’t long before neighbors and lookie-loos began stopping by on Saturdays to shop and see what they could find. One Saturday, Dot (Garlan Sr.’s wife and Garlan Jr.’s mom) found a couple of ladies shopping. There was one small problem – They were shopping and picking through her stuff! As quick as Dot could say, “Get out!!”, a new business was born.
Garlan Jr., Dr. Gudger’s son, now owns and runs the business with his sister Joy and wife, Heather – along with 12 employees. It would take a few days to sum up what this close-knit staff does as there is a full-time and quite expansive (to the tune of over 46,000 square feet) full-service wood shop, restoration shop, lumberyard, and retail shop. All projects, including their business of lumber and custom orders, are done in house. In fact it’s so “in house” Garlan and Heather live in a restored loft just above the shop with their two sons.
Southern Accents has extended their store to a small campus. Located on the same block is an iron lot full of antique iron, claw foot tubs and pedestal sinks and just down from the iron lot is a garden lot stocked with urns, benches, fountains, stonework and more. Lastly, very close to St. Bernard Abbey (Side Note: This is the historic Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, which opened in 1892. Be sure to visit the Ave Maria Grotto while you’re there!) you will arrive at the salvaged wood warehouse, housed in what used to be a school gymnasium.
Recently, Garlan Jr. was in our neck of the woods working with Mike on a custom project at his property in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. A Morton Building was just completed to store all of Mike’s personal collection of picks and motorcycles. We are not kidding when we tell you there were antique Harleys in the kitchen before this building was built… just ask Mike’s wife, Jodi! Mike wanted something salvalged and unique to match the picker-patina aesthetic throughout the building. Working with the salvaged wood that Mike hand picked, Southern Accents covered the interior back wall of the office with re-milled quarter sawn white oak. The ceiling was dressed with antique beadboard and the floor was a mixture of stained and painted white oak. The exterior wall of the office was wrapped with reclaimed lumber in a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors. Once installed, the wood was finished with two coats of linseed oil. Mike summed up the look with one word: “Sexy.”
I’ve been a full-time picker for over 25 years, long before the days of eBay (which totally changed they way pickers buy and sell…) and when “cash only” was a given. I officially opened Antique Archaeology in 2000 and life has moved at lightning speed since. The day after the show aired, I had to buy a cash register for my store… we didn’t even have one!! We were a small business then and continue to be that though we’re definitely not your typical antique shop! Things changed fast since then, and I’m very blessed. Here’s a little flashback, thanks for being part of the ride!!! -MW
Every once in a while, Antique Archaeology acquires slightly creepy picks, which almost instantly makes our shop look a little like a funhouse. What can we say? Sometimes Mike’s taste tilt towards the unusual. Like that one trip to upstate New York when he returned to our Nashville location with a load of clown heads and a gigantic old clown suit! It’s only appropriate with it being Halloween, that we showcase some of the spooky antiques that the Master of Junk has collected over the last few years.
You can see any of the following in Nashville. They’re sure to make your visit extra eerie.
This smiling, Oddfellows skeletal bust currently welcomes store guests behind the front counter.
Anyone recognize the clown on the left? You saw it on Season 7 when Mike purchased it in upstate New York. The paper mache clown head use to be propped atop a ciricus sign to greet the audience. The Bozo clown head on the right was off that same pick. Either of the clowns is enough to be any coulrophobic person’s worst nightmare!
Now this old thing… Nope, it’s not from your worst nightmare – it’s a dental mold tool.
Wolf Boy is undoubtedly one of the most famous picks in American Pickers history. He was displayed at circus shows as an attraction and was created by sideshow artist, Homer Tate (read more about him HERE!)
Have you ever experienced the unsettling feeling like you’re being watched, heard whispers, or felt some serious chills? Let’s start a spooky story swap in the comments below. The creepier the better!
If you’ve ever walked through the doors of Antique Archaeology in Nashville and looked up, you know how special the light decor is. Whenever Mike Wolfe is out exploring and picking on the back roads of America, he’ll often find a piece that is more unique than an old oil can or motorcycle accessory — rusty gold.
Old cogwheels, small signs, and metal funnel picks get a special treatment in the shop. Mike collaborates closely with Nashville artisan, David Phillips, the hand-crafted mastermind behind each Rustoration Collection piece, to create one of a kind lighting for the home and office.
This Industrial Rusted Pendant is a reproduction of one of the first lights fabricated from parts picked by Mike while on the road. The light, along with others in the collection, are all hand made and wired to UL listing standards in a Nashville workshop. This piece particularity incorporates the clean lines of the metal frame with a small funnel shade perfect for spaces of all sizes.
Saving Nashville’s Historic Buildings – It’s Now or Never!
In a city that is growing so rapidly that cranes dot our skylines, high rise buildings take the place where some of our history once stood. Nashville is fortunate to have a hard working organization taking up the cause for preservation. Established in 1968 and renamed in 1975, Historic Nashville, Inc. (HNI) is a nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting and preserving the historic places that make our city unique. Over the years, HNI has successfully advocated for the preservation of such landmarks as the Ryman Auditorium, Union Station, Hermitage Hotel, 2nd Avenue & Lower Broadway and Shelby Street Bridge, as well as neighborhood historic districts throughout the city. Without their efforts, some of most valuable buildings may have fallen prey to modern development.
Historic Nashville Inc’s Nashville Nine
For the past eleven years, the organization has opened up nominations of the Nashville Nine for people to have their voices heard on the historic landmarks that matter most to them. Upon closing of nominations, HNI compiles the Nashville Nine in order to bring public attention to our endangered places, often with the hopes of saving them.
Through July 15, Historic Nashville, Inc. is now accepting nominations for the 2015 Nashville Nine. If you’re aware of any historic properties endangered by demolition, neglect or development in the city please nominate them. Historic houses and/or neighborhoods, park buildings, civic landmarks, commercial buildings, neighborhood schools, churches and even neon signs are eligible.