Sellersville crew stars in new reality TV series ‘Abandoned’
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!’”
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.
Jay Chaikin shares the story of this oil painting, a scene that seems to be of wartime in France.