RENSSELAER FALLS — The phone call Kyle D. Hartman had waited to receive for five years came one week after he died.
Mr. Hartman, or Fireball, as he was known locally, had dreamed of having the History Channel TV show “American Pickers” visit his collection on the banks of the Oswegatchie River.
When the call came, Mr. Hartman’s son, David Hartman, felt like he had to say yes.
The episode, that was shot in May, will be aired at 9 p.m. Monday on the History Channel.
“It’s a pretty streamlined process,” David Hartman said about the shooting of the episode.
First they were contacted by phone, then a scout visited the property, then the stars of the show, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz showed up in their famous white van to haggle for items in Kyle Hartman’s vast collection at River House Ware and Restoration.
The Hartmans were sworn to secrecy and even now, with less than a week before the episode airs, David Hartman is not allowed to talk about any of the items that were purchased or how much was paid.
The only chink in the secrecy armor was a stop in Heuvelton that Mr. Fritz and Mr. Wolfe made on May 8, the day they were taping.
Michelle McGraw, the owner of the State Street Deli in Heuvelton, served the two cable stars ice cream cones that day and posted a photo on Facebook.
They wouldn’t say where they were going, but they headed off toward Rensselaer Falls and there was really no question where they would be stopping.
Kyle Hartman is originally from Orchard Park and started his business here 42 years ago.
“He moved up here in the early ‘70s and that’s when he started his architectural salvage business,” David Hartman said. “When he was fixing up his own home he ended up having more than he needed so he decided to turn it into a business.”
His collection is big.
“There’s a thousand plus doors in inventory and that’s just doors. That’s not including windows or anything else. It’s pretty massive.”
There were 96 cars in the collection when Kyle Hartman died.
“He was a very avid car collector. His specialty definitely was vintage Fords.” David Hartman said. “It’s been weeded down some since then.”
David Hartman said that Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Fritz were on the property and making deals for about 10 hours.
After the picking, David Hartman sat down for an interview with the stars and talked about Rensselaer Falls and the surrounding area. He said he knew his father would want any attention her could get to benefit the community.
“That definitely would have been one of his priorities,” David Hartman said.
As of Tuesday afternoon there have been no promo’s for the episode and David Hartman has no idea what will be included. He does suspect that the episode will be split between two picks because its title is Double Barn Bonanza.
There is a lot of local interest, David Hartman said. A post on his Facebook page about the air date was shared more than 400 times in less than 24 hours.
“It’s just exploded,” he said.