Editor’s Note: The following story first appeared in the Monday E-edition of the Morning Times. Be sure to check out www.morning-times.com every Monday for early and exclusive content.
OWEGO — Residents and business owners in Owego were in for a treat last weekend as American Pickers Mike Wolfe and “Jersey” Jon Szalay rolled into town on their quest to find some unique treasures. According to Jim Mead, owner of the Early Owego Antique Center, Jon Szalay, who he has known for years, called on Sunday morning to let him know they were in town. He also told Mead that he didn’t learn where they were going until that morning, and that Mike “prefers it that way” so as to keep things real.
The American Pickers, which airs on The History Channel and with a schedule at www.history.com/shows/american-pickers, are on a mission to recycle America, even if it means diving into countless piles of grimy junk or getting chased off a gun-wielding homeowner’s land, according to the show’s website.
The site describes the Pickers as hitting back roads from coast to coast, earning a living by restoring forgotten relics to their former glory, transforming one person’s trash into another’s treasure.
Last weekend the Pickers made it to Owego, N.Y., which is no surprise. A growing antique hub in Owego, along with some connections, attracted the show’s pickers to the area to take a look around. And much to the surprise of area residents as social media was buzzing with chatter and excitement over the sighting of the crew’s Antique Restoration vehicle cruising around town.
Although the details of anything found by the Pickers is kept under wraps until a future airing is scheduled, we do know that they visited with Chris Knickerbocker of Old Souls Home, and made a stop at Jeff Treadwell’s 2nd Time Around Restorations, LLC in Apalachin.
They also met up with Jim Mead at the Early Owego Antique Center, where Jon made a few purchases to include a real “nifty” pre-war Motorcycle Riding Kidney Belt.
Mead added that when Mike was finished in the late afternoon, they all gathered to look at his collection. He added that Mike was disappointed that he was unable to see the 1914 O-We-Go Cyclecar, as it is displayed at the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich.
Over the years Mead has sold two Monarch Cyclecar engines to Jon, as he hopes to build a re-creation 1914 Monarch Twin motorcycle some day. The Cyclecar engines were nearly identical to their Motorcycle engines.
Because the O-We-Go Car Company failed prior to using all the engines the Ives Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. built for them, there are a handful of “loose” Cyclecar engines around the hobby including three that Mead knows were bought out of the remains of the factory stock in the 1930’s.
One of those is in the car at Norwich and the second Mead sold to Jon. Only the remains of the one car that George Staley and Mead restored have ever been discovered.
At Jeff Treadwell’s 2nd Time Around Restoration Company shop in Apalachin, the group was delighted with the restorations to include a sports car that was built by an adolescent, Sam Collier, on the Collier estate, “Overlook”, at Pocantico Hills in New York. Sam was killed leading the Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1950.
Treadwell is also restoring an early Indian Motorcycle. According to Mead, Jon was able to buy some left over parts from that project that he needed for another.
Of the visit, Mead stated that meeting Mike Wolfe was a joy.
“Of course we all have similar interests and have common friends, so that helps,” said Mead, adding, “But still, he’s just like he appears on television. No pretense at all. He’s just a genuine fellow who seems content and happy, enjoying his competency in his work.”