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Ortonville picked

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May 04, 2011 - Ortonville- John Henski was out working in the wood shop in his barn on April 18 when the white van pulled into the driveway in the 400 block of Ortonville Road.

The van had "American Pickers" emblazoned on the side, the name of a television reality show that airs on the History Channel and Lifetime and features Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, who travel the country in search of antiques and collectibles, but that didn't mean anything to Henski, who has never seen the show. He asked them what they wanted.

"They were like, 'Don't you know who we are?'" recalled Henski. "I said, 'I don't know you from Adam and Eve.' They said, 'Don't you watch our show? We're the American Pickers' and I said, 'So? I'm John Henski.'"

What Henski realizes now is that he was lucky. Fritz and Wolfe had spotted a Cadillac that was for sale out front, as well as an antique gas pump and had stopped to see what other treasures might be found at the M-15 home. After they explained to Henski what they do and what the show was about, he told them the gas pump, which he says is "older than I am, maybe 1934" was for sale. The pickers were even more interested in the 1929 Ford Model A Coupe that was owned by Henski's father, who died nearly a year ago. John Henski told them it was for sale for $7,500. Fritz and Wolfe thought that was steep and offered $5,000.

"I said, 'I can't make a decision, you have to ask the boss— my wife's at work, and I'm not going to call her, it's not an emergency,'" Henski said.

The pickers asked if they could return in a few days and Henski agreed. On April 21, they came back and stayed for more than three hours, with the show's crew looking over multiple items. After dickering, Fritz purchased the Model A for $6,500 and told Henski he plans to keep it for himself and have it restored to its original condition.

"It's going to a good home, not going somewhere to be chopped up," said Henski.

The Model A hasn't run in more than 20 years. Henski last remembers his parents driving it around 1985, in a Hadley parade. Debbie Henski took the last ride in the classic car, sitting behind the steering wheel while Fritz and Wolfe pushed the vehicle out. They loaded it onto a truck and planned to take it to the Henry Ford (museum) in Dearborn to have the car appraised.

"I spent about two hours with Frank, he's right down to earth, reasonable," said Henski. "They seemed like common folk, he talks like a red-blooded American."

The Henskis and the Ford Model A coupe will be on a Michigan episode in season 3, which will kick off in late August, said Tom Keady, an "American Pickers" show representative. Henski said they were told they would be notified when the show would air, and would also receive a video. Otherwise, he has no plans to become a fan or viewer of the show.

"My wife and I are early to bed and early to rise," said Henski. "We're generally in bed by 8 or 8:30 p.m. If we're still up at 9, we're sick."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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