My Brother’s Brush With Fame

Have you ever watched the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow?” The television hit has become a cult classic in the decade it has been on the air. The show features appraisers who assess the value of people’s belongings–from family heirlooms to just plain junk (some of which turns out to be relics worth thousands of dollars). It’s what you might get if you were to cross the lottery with a treasure hunt, only in a garage sale/circus-type of environment.

Now that you know what the show is about you may be better able to appreciate my brother’s experience with it. A few weeks ago “Antiques Roadshow” visited Honolulu, Hawaii and my brother was one of thousands (3,400 to exact) who received two tickets and an invitation to attend the show’s taping. More than 6,500 people showed up with their goods. (Note: I was told that the crew and appraisers begin to fatigue at about the 6,000 mark, and a full day’s filming yields enough material for three shows.)

So there is my brother mid-way through the pre-appraisers line clutching military memorabilia left to us by my grandfather (my grandfather was part of the Army’s historic 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team). He said that prior to being allowed on the floor where filming was takeing place each person was given a “field-of-expertise tag,” such as collectibles or furniture, so they knew which secondary line to stand in when within the appraisal arena. One thing you may not have known is that several police officers are on hand during each taping checking old weapons to see if they are loaded. Security is tight, which I suppose is to be expected in a room filled with potentially valuable items, but my brother made it through in one piece.

Next, it was off to the actual appraisal area. As you can imagine only a few “lucky” items are chosen to appear on TV. Sadly, my brother and our grandfather’s items were not among the chosen few. Rather, my brother stood in line for hours waiting to have a stranger pass judgment on our family heirlooms. Okay, okay, I am making it sound worse than it really was. To be honest, my brother said he had a great time, and the highlight of his day was when pop-culture collectibles expert Gary Sohmers (he calls himself the “token hippie” among the appraisers—maybe it’s his ponytail) came up to my brother to make small talk. My brother said he was upbeat and funny… and was wearing his trademark aloha shirt.

In the end, many of the people in line shared my brother’s philosophy: he wasn’t there to part with our family’s heirlooms, he merely wanted to get the free insurance estimate… meeting Gary Sohmers in person was just icing on the cake.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.