To say Columbus dentist John Fields is a big fan of the History Channel show “American Pickers” doesn’t adequately capture his enthusiasm for the program.
The show, which became a hit series for The History Channel almost as soon as it first aired in 2010, follows antique and collectable “pickers” Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Mike’s brother, Robbie, as they travel around the United States to buy or “pick” various items for resale, for clients or for their personal collections. Danielle Colby, who manages the group’s office, also is a regular on the show.
Fields, who has been collecting odds and ends of all sorts since he was a teenager, was hooked from the start, finding kindred spirits in the cast.
So, when Fields had the chance to meet Mike Wolfe about eight years ago, he was determined to preserve the moment for prosperity, handing his cell phone to a woman standing nearby and asking her to take a photo of himself with Wolfe.
The woman agreed.
A few minutes later, someone approached Fields and asked him how he knew Sheryl Crow.
“What are you talking about?” Fields responded.
The man answered: “I figured you must know her pretty well. You asked her to take your photo.”
Fields laughed at the memory.
“I had no clue,” he said.
What Fields isn’t clueless about is collecting. He often travels around the country attending antique shows to see if something catches his eye.
That’s how he met Robbie Wolfe.
“We first met probably four or five years ago,” Fields said. “I sold him a 1949 airplane, and we just stayed in touch.”
Last year, Robbie, who joined the TV series several years after its debut, floated the idea of filming an episode in Columbus.
“We were filming a show in (Natchez) Mississippi so I asked John to come down and hang out with us,” Robbie said. “While we were together, I thought, ‘Hey, since we’re here in Mississippi why don’t we do a show with John?’”
Robbie said he knew Fields would be a great fit for the show because Fields shares a philosophy about collecting that Mike said makes the show a hit with viewers.
“What my brother figured out very early in the show is that it’s not the thing you’re picking but the story behind it that hooks people on the show,” Robbie said. “I don’t have to tell anybody who knows John what a great storyteller he is. He’s got some magnificent stories. Just about everything we touched, it seemed like John had this wonderful story to go with it. It was about as easy and natural a show as we’ve ever done.”
The show was scheduled to be broadcast Monday, but was taken off the schedule earlier this week.
“They tell me that’s pretty typical,” Fields said. “So now I’m just waiting for them to get back to me about when the show will be on TV.”
Fields said he often buys collectibles not so much for their value, but for the story behind the objects.
“My parents owned the Old Country Store on Highway 45 years ago, and I would pick up stuff and put it there going back to when I was in my teens,” Fields said “It’s a hobby, but more than that, I just want future generations to have these things around and appreciate them. When you tell somebody’s story, you pass it on and keep it alive. Now, we’re seeing a lot of the younger generation is liking this old stuff, too. I think the show has helped with that because it created exposure for this.”
Fields said the crew filmed the episode in one day, beginning in the morning and ending around 10:30 p.m.
“They had to go back and start over because I would stutter or something, but what you see is pretty much how it went,” Fields said. “There wasn’t any script to follow. I’d just show them stuff, talk about it and that’s how it went.”
Robbie Wolfe and Colby are featured in the episode going through the collectibles Fields keeps in a Southside warehouse he rents.
Neither Fields nor Robbie would say what items were “picked.”
“I will say we picked some good stuff,” Wolfe said. “But like it is so many times, the stories were the best part, and John was terrific.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]