Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

November 4, 2010

American Pickers visit Sumter County

Local man shows off antiques and collectibles

AMERICUS — Eddie Lowell was paid a visit from Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz of the “American Pickers” television show on Sept. 19. “American Pickers” has appeared on the History Channel since early 2010. The show follows Wolfe and Fritz around rural areas of the country in search of antiques and collectibles.

During their visit to Lowell’s residence on U.S. Highway 280 West, the “pickers” were in search of some of Lowell’s inventory that he has accumulated over his lifetime. The producers of the show were contacted by a friend of Lowell’s who assured them that he had some things he was sure they would be interested in.

“They have a lot of the same interests as I did — they were just a regular couple of guys,” Lowell said. A retired jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force, Lowell’s interest in collecting largely centers around military paraphernalia, such as bayonets, helmets and even heavy machinery. Among the collectibles that Lowell sold to the pickers was a German World War II pilot helmet and a propeller from a World War I plane. He said that one item they expressed great interest in was a Nike missile, one of the first surface-to-air missiles built in 1951. Although the missile is an inert hull, it is otherwise complete and comes with the launching rail.

“I don’t know of another complete one,” he said.

Even though they were interested, ultimately they did not buy the missile, leaving Lowell to believe it may have been too big to transport or too time consuming to load.

He said that the pickers and their film crew were pressed for time during their visit, but they said they would be back. “They said it is the first place they have found that had some really good quality stuff,” Lowell said.

He also said that they took away some old military signs; automobile pamphlets from the old Rylander Ford dealership; and approximately 30 discontinued, scaled model airplanes as well.

Lowell’s collection is expansive and includes a variety of vehicles, military and other wise, as well as more than 100 gasoline engines, which Lowell is particularly proud of. “I’m interested in anything associated with the military or that’s mechanical,” Lowell said.

Originally from Maine, he came to South Georgia while in the Air Force, being stationed at Turner Air Force Base where he worked on KC-135 and B-52 jet engines. He has lived in Sumter County since he retired from military service in 1964. His second career was as an engineer and draftsman for mobile home plants. During those years and after retirement in 1984, Lowell really starting building his collection. He would mostly go to estate sales, but said that he would often return to Maine and visit his parents, bringing back a truck load of “neat stuff.”

He said he visited rummage sales at farms and would find phonographs, bayonets and uniforms. “I would bring back anything I could fit in a truck,” he said.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Lowell’s collection is the “engine room,” a clean, well-lit metal barn full of restored gasoline engines, many that were assembled by Lowell himself. He says that many of the engines range in price $500 to $5,000, and he even has a one of a kind.

As far as his experience with the crew and hosts of “American Pickers,” Lowell says he enjoyed the visit. “The were a very professional group,” he said. “They had a list of things they were looking for, and I had most of it,” Lowell said.

Lowell says that the History Channel has informed him that the episode will appear in mid-December, and he will notify the newspaper when the actual date is confirmed. For more information, visit www.history.com/shows/american-pickers.

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