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Brothers make fantastic find in abandoned storage shed

Storage warriors, brothers David, left, and Dewey Hicks of Hampton, uncovered a plethora of old newspapers and other  historical ephemera during their most recent buy.

Storage warriors, brothers David, left, and Dewey Hicks of Hampton, uncovered a plethora of old newspapers and other historical ephemera during their most recent buy.

Even though it’s not really a battle, the competition can be fierce and the end results are almost always unpredictable.

It’s “Storage Wars” — Carter County style — and two local men are proof that when you go looking for a bargain, you just never know what you’ll find.
Hampton brothers David and Dewey Hicks, inspired by the popular reality television series, recently uncovered some fascinating pieces of history when they made the winning bid on a couple of local storage units.
It was like a scene from “Storage Wars,” which follows professional buyers who buy the contents of repossessed storage units when the rent isn’t paid.
The would-be buyers were given only a few minutes to inspect the contents, based on only what they could see from the door. The goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise inside.
While that show is based in California, the Hicks brothers have made it local — playing on the concept in their own community.
After seeing a roadside sign advertising the storage auction, “we decided to give it a whirl,” said David Hicks.
“I was drawn to this one unit when I spotted weed eaters and kerosene heaters inside,” Dewey Hicks said. “You have to use your eyes alone to decide the value of the contents of those units and this one paid off.”
David Hicks said the unit netted them a good profit. For only $200 — the winning bid — the pair acquired several pieces of good equipment as well as a gold necklace.
But their most unique find was a plethora of old newspapers, clippings and documents that offer a look at the area’s history.
The brothers brought that part of their find to the Elizabethton Star offices, sharing a Jan. 11, 1939, edition of the Elizabethton Star that features a front page article “Tollett Pays With Life In Chair.” The article outlines the horrific story of 28-year-old White Miller Tollett, one of four men convicted of dynamiting the Hampton home of Harmon Gouge — a crime that resulted in the deaths of the family’s three little girls, Sonia, age 9, Luena, age 7, and Roma Jean, age 5.
Tollett was put to death by electrocution for his part in the crime.
Another Elizabethton Star page from the Sept. 1, 1939, issue featured the headline “German Bombs Rain on Poland,” while another, printed in 1951, told of “Allied Patrols Near Communists Continue.”
There was also a clipping of the macabre story of a Hancock County 9-year-old child bride as well as materials sent from Japan to a local business dealing with patents.
Also included in the Hicks brothers’ acquisition was a 32-page edition of “The King: The Life and Times of Elvis Presley,” printed by the Johnson City Press-Chronicle on August 27, 1977, after the entertainer’s death earlier that month.
It was a fascinating assortment of items and David Hicks said he is glad they decided to try a new venture.
While the two have speculated before, taking chances on garage sale and flea market finds, this was the first time they had tried bidding on a storage unit.
“But it sure won’t be the last time we do it,” Dewey Hicks said. “It was a lot of fun and we’ll do it again for the thrill of it,” he added. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”