Sellersville crew stars in new re­al­ity TV se­ries ‘Aban­doned’

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jen­nifer Con­nor

Star of new re­al­ity TV Se­ries “Aban­doned” on the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel, Jay Chaikin, of Sellersville, gets teary-eyed when he tells the sto­ries of the pre­vi­ous in­hab­i­tants he’s dis­cov­ered while rum­mag­ing through the stuff they’ve aban­doned.

He starts by hold­ing out three but­tons.

“These may just look like three but­tons to you,” Chaikin said. “But, when I hold these but­tons in my hand, I see a man.”

Orig­i­nally, Chaikin and his wife, Ricki, owned JC Wood­work­ing, a re­claimed wood and struc­tures busi- ness that takes down barns and log cab­ins for re­sale. This has af­forded Chaikin the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore many 19th cen­tury dwellings and struc­tures from the early part of Amer­ica’s his­tory.

“Aban­doned,” a 12-part se­ries on Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel air­ing Wed­nes­days at 9 p.m., shows Chaikin and his part­ners ex­plor­ing aban­doned prop­er­ties in their quest to pre­serve pieces of Amer­i­can his­tory, delv­ing into the value these items have in the an­tique mar­ket.

One log cabin in Perry County, Pa., just north of Harrisburg, ended up as Chaikin’s ideal trea­sure trove. When shov­el­ing through rot­ting

clothes, he’d grown ac­cus­tomed to lis­ten­ing for the “dink, dink” of but­tons fall­ing to the ground. This time CKDLNLn wDV LnWrLJuHG WR finG three brass but­tons adorned with the Amer­i­can ea­gle.

He dis­cov­ered the pre­vi­ous owner of the cabin, Darvin Rowe, en­listed at age 35 WR fiJKW Ln WRrOG WDr ,,, which at the time was the old­est pos­si­ble age to join the Amer­i­can forces. Later, when pulling apart the cabin, a plas­tic bag with a let­ter signed with Rowe’s name fell from be­tween the logs.

Chaikin knows the words of the let­ter well.

“The phys­i­cal wounds I face pale in com­par­i­son to the emo­tional wounds that no man should ever face. I just hope you are keep­ing the prom­ises we made to each other,” Chaikin re­cited, af­ter paus­ing to pull him­self WRJHWKHr, ErLnJLnJ KLV fiVW WR his mouth and look­ing off with tears in his eyes.

Other be­long­ings found in the cabin re­vealed Rowe’s wife, Vi­o­let, which in­cluded a pi­ano, hand­crafted stool and a bright red day coat that hung on the back of a door.

“These items are just the con­nec­tors that we have with our past,” Chaikin said. “That’s why I love what we’re do­ing.”

Af­ter fall­ing in love with the ex­ca­va­tion and ex­plo­ration as­pect of JC Wood­work­ing, Chaikin started Re­claimed Relics, a bus­inHVV WKDW VSHFLDOLzHV Ln finGing Amer­ica’s trea­sures in its old­est build­ings. Some items are sold in their orig­i­nal vin­tage con­di­tion, while oth­ers Chaikin re-pur­poses into high end fur­nish­ings.

Re­claimed Relics, run out of a barn next to the Chaikins’ Sellersville home, is how the pro­duc­tion com­pany of “Aban­doned,” Pic­tureShack En­ter­tain­ment, found Chaikin and his team.

“$W firVW , WKRuJKW LW wDV D joke,” Ricki said. The woman be­hind the busi­ness side of all of Jay’s en­deav­ors, Ricki re­ceived an email from the pro­duc­tion com­pany ask­ing a few sim­ple ques­tions that re­vealed the ide­ally de­sired cast for the se­ries.

“The ques­tions were so spot on in de­scrib­ing Jay, I thought it was one of our friends play­ing a prank on us,” Ricki said.

“Do you know a lot about old build­ings, have a sense of ad­ven­ture and aren’t afraid of get­ting dirty?” the email asked.

Then the Chaikins went through an elim­i­na­tion process where they were given a task to fiOP, VuFK DV HxSORrLnJ Dn ROG barn, and sub­mit­ted the footage to the pro­duc­tion com­pany.

One of the ex­plo­ration tapes they sub­mit­ted in­cluded Chaikin’s high school friend Dan Gra­ham and a newer em­ployee to his busi­nesses, Mark Pak­e­nas.

$W firVW CKDLNLn wDV JRLnJ to be paired with some­one who also did well dur­ing the Pic­tureShack En­ter­tain­ment’s elim­i­na­tion process.

“Then they sent the video of Jay, Dan and Mark goof­ing around to Na­tional Ge­o­graphic and they loved it,” Ricki said. “They re­ally are hi­lar­i­ous to­gether.”

The Aug. 29 episode shows WKH WHDPV’ TuHVW WR finG WrHD­sure at the aban­doned Pabst Blue Rib­bon Fac­tory in Mil­wau­kee. The Chaikins as­sure the au­di­ence that Pak­e­nas’ ev­ery move in dis­cov­er­ing the fac­tory is gen­uine.

“No mat­ter how nice the place is, Mark al­ways gets a PBR,” Ricki said.

Pak­e­nas even wore a PBR shirt with its sleeves cut off to the New York City pre­miere held when the show aired Wed­nes­day, Aug. 22. Chaikin showed up in his over­alls and white T-shirt.

Ear­lier that af­ter­noon, Chaikin and crew dropped a wood or­der off along the Hudson River.

“The fun­ni­est thing is the con­struc­tion guys there thought we were hi­lar­i­ous and said we should have a re­al­ity show about us,” Jay said. “I just re­sponded, ‘Yeah you’re right. Check us out tonight at 9 on the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel!’”

News-her­ald photo — DEBBY HIGH

Jay Chaikin and his wife, Ricki, stand in the barn that houses their busi­ness, Re­claimed Relics, in Sellersville.

Jay Chaikin, of Sellersville, holds up mil­i­tary but­tons he found, which he says are “a story in the mak­ing.” Ricki Chaikin, stand­ing in Re­claimed Relics barn in Sellersville (pic­tured be­low), talks about the busi­ness.

News-her­ald pho­tos — DEBBY HIGH

Jay Chaikin shares the story of this oil paint­ing, a scene that seems to be of wartime in France.

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