LEWISTOWN - It's been almost four months since "American Pickers" stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz first caused a stir at Max Corkins' property in Lewistown, and producers of the show have "tentatively confirmed" that episode of the popular History Channel show will air at 9 p.m. on Aug. 27.
If knowing when the episode will be on television was the number one question asked about the pickers' visit, then "How did they know to come here?" was probably a close second.
The process was long, Corkins said.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Max Corkins’ property in Lewistown, which was visited by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz in April, will be featured in the episode of ‘American Pickers’ set to air at 9 p.m. Aug. 27 on the History Channel.
A few years ago, he sent six pictures to the show's producers via email, expressing his interest in having Wolfe and Fritz come to take a look at his collection. He sent six different pictures every day for several weeks, but then circumstances got in the way of his efforts; his computer stopped working and then he was hospitalized for six weeks. On the road to recovery, the pickers were put on the back burner in Corkins' mind.
In January or February, Corkins' friend, Jim Clark, told Corkins he heard "American Pickers" was going to be in Pennsylvania. Knowing Corkins had once contacted the show, Clark took a flyer and gave it to Corkins.
"Now I had a phone number," Corkins said.
He called and spoke with a producer named Jodi Friedman, who asked if he could send some photos to her. So he did - he sent her all the photos he sent years before - and she called him back right away. One week later, two scouts came to Corkins' property and reported "very favorably" to the producers, Corkins said.
"I watch the History Channel a good bit," he said. "Plus, I have an interest in that kind of old stuff." Corkins said he felt he had nothing to lose when he first contacted the show's producers, but after meeting with the scouts, he was confident he would be selected.
In mid-April, Friedman called to tell him he was very high on the list of candidates who might be on the show when Wolfe and Fritz made their Pennsylvnia visit.
"She called again that Friday and said, 'Max, you're number one on the list in Pennsylvania,'" Corkins said.
Wolfe and Fritz came to Lewistown on April 29.
"I found out Thursday they were coming Sunday, but I didn't know what time until Saturday afternoon," Corkins said, adding that he was told not to tell anyone. Corkins said a producer told him in one instance the pickers went to a location and found nearly the whole town waiting for them, so they just kept driving.
Corkins said Wolfe was impressed by the building and shook Max's hand, opening up right away.
"Frank was a little more standoffish, but warmed up after half an hour or so," Corkins said. Fritz later admitted to not feeling well, he said.
Shortly after arriving, the crew left to film the approach.
"It's all staged," Corkins said.
While the crew was gone, Corkins sat at his desk talking with another of the show's producers. At this time, an officer from the Lewistown Police Department came into the office, asking if he could put up police tape for crowd control.
Corkins was amazed.
"I couldn't believe there were so many people out there," he said.
Indeed, the event drew hundreds of people to Corkins' parking lot, where people started seeing the old Studebakers and car parts as points of interest instead of just junk.
Corkins said he bought the property on April 1, 1982. At the time, there were eight houses in front of the garage, but they were in a state of disrepair and he ended up tearing them down. He noted that on one hand, the eyesore houses were gone, but on the other hand, since he runs an automotive restoration business, now there were old cars in the lot.
"I wish the building was at the front of the lot. I wish it was out of town. But it's not," he said, adding that the property is zoned automotive.
Inside the building, Corkins' collection includes old restaurant signs, pedal cars, 12 cases of unopened Coca-Cola bottles from 1964 and a 120-year-old fireplace surround with leaded glass doors and ceramic tile backing. All of which, by the way, is still in Corkins' possession.
"Everything I hoped they'd be interested in they didn't hardly look at," he said, chuckling.
The real treasure trove, however, is Corkins' collection of toys from when he was a boy.
Corkins' mother had two elderly aunts and he went to their house every Wednesday and Saturday, where he always found two identical bags of toys - one set to play with at the aunts' house, and a second set to take home. The toys left at the aunts' house weren't played with much, especially as Corkins got older.
When the aunts passed away, Corkins discovered a room in their house, still filled with his old toys. His life-long ambition is to one day have the entire collection on display. Because of this dream and the toys' sentimental value, the collection was not for sale that day.
Even so, the pickers didn't drive away empty-handed. Corkins' personal collection of antiques and vintage items extends far beyond toys and he said at the end of the day, everyone seemed happy.
"It was fun meeting both of them," he said, adding that he felt as if he'd known Wolfe a long time, just from watching the show.
"American Pickers" is shown at 9 p.m. each Monday on the History Channel.