Pinball: The Original “American Picker”

coverThe television reality show, American Pickers,  started in 2010.  This show is about two men who travel parts of the United States looking into barns, storage sheds, garages, junkyards, etc., to find that something special they could sell in their store: Antique Archaeology.

While this show is fun to watch, I have to say that long before there was a Mike Wolfe or Frank Fritz, there was Pinball, or as some called him, “The Junk Picker.”

Pinball, in my book, is definitely the original “American Picker” although he only picked through items in his local area.

What’s that?

Who is Pinball?

Pinball was Jan Florian Drewniak, who was born 1916 and grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts.  As a teenager, Pinball was like a sponge who soaked up every piece of information and knowledge he could hold, whether it was learning to weld, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, gardening, etc.  Some would have labeled him “A Jack of All Trades.”  This knowledge served Pinball well during the Depression Era.

Beginning in the 1950s, Drewniak with pencils, pens and paper started writing his memoirs/autobiography.  Prior to his death he gave his son, Don, a box with instructions not to open it until after his death.  Don honored his father’s wishes.  When he opened the box, Don realized he had a manuscript and as he read through the stories, he was introduced to a father he never knew.  From these stories came The Junk Picker.

Drewniak was indeed a storyteller and Don, who co-authored the book, found his father’s voice.  A voice of a person who had a way of not taking himself to seriously, yet serious enough to know what he wanted in life.  Told from the first person point of view, Drewniak paints vivid characters with colorful personalities.  He takes us on adventures from hunting “white rabbits” at night, to buying all the old and dirty furniture from Sparks, to learning the location of Smokey’s blueberry patch, to cleaning out the junk in Wilson’s stinky storage shed; all while he was remodeling his boss’ house and barn and building a road and a mile long stone wall.

Like the American Pickers, Pinball saw past the dirt, rust and grease and found the hidden treasures that others saw as “stuff.”   Drewniak definitely made the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” work in his favor.

If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted book to read or to give someone as a birthday present, this book would be a great choice.

I give The Junk Picker by Jan F. Drewniak and Don Drewniak a 5 star rating.

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478334908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478334903
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches

Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 458 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1478334908
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008XAOKP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled


Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Books, e-books

15 responses to “Pinball: The Original “American Picker”

  1. Kathryn, I will share you comment with the author, Don Drewniak. Glad you liked it.


  2. I just finished reading The Junk Picker. I absolutely fell in love with Pinball. What a great story. I am so glad the family published it.


  3. Cynthia – I have just started reading The Junk Picker. I will comment on it when I have finished reading it.


  4. Thanks for sharing this review. I have met my share of the picker or junker, had an uncle that way. He drove my aunt nuts. Nice post!


  5. this sounds like a real interesting book! I think my dad might have been a picker or junker. He kept everything, the exact opposite of my mom. I am now glad he kept everything, because since he passed away, I am the keeper of a lot of his stuff.


  6. Cynthia, thank you for the review. Transforming my father’s manuscript into a book, an undertaking which took six years, was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Not a day passes wherein I don’t think about the many unusual characters with whom my father interacted and wish that I could somehow be transported into the world in which he lived.


  7. I love American Pickers. This book sounds like one I would love to read. My father-in-law used to pick up everything he found even if it was on the side of the road. I mentioned this once to my daughter’s boyfriend. He said his dad sometimes makes great finds on the side of the road. He called them FSR (found side of road). I have placed this in my wish list to order. I have more books that I want to read that I wonder if I will get to them all. Thank you for the review.


  8. Deb Webb

    Great book! I love the show. Pinball sounds a little like me. I grew up around mostly adults..not many kids in the area or family. Somehow I asorbed all kinds of family history and ways my grandparents did things. I gotta get the Kindle edition!