Monday, March 05, 2018

Old Trucks ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The rain took the day off yesterday, making it feel like San Francisco weather. The sun was high and warm on my face. It felt like the perfect day to wash a winter’s worth of grime off my truck, so I pulled into the local car wash, and before pulling out, I’d vacuumed enough red clay from the floorboard to make a flower pot. A few minutes later, I pulled onto the highway smiling. I love my truck.

I came by my love of trucks honestly because my dad loved them, too. He had an old ‘46 Chevy truck he parked in the backyard. At one time, it had been blue, but years of hard work and neglect had turned it into a shade of amber with blue undertones. The bed had rusted through to the axle, and my Uncle Pete helped dad build a bed for it made of dried oak that was as hard as teak.

We hauled coal in the old beast in winter, and during the summer we tossed our garbage on the back until we had enough to haul to the dump. I think the battery was original equipment, so each time we wanted to drive the old Chevy anywhere, we had to jump it off.

I was too young to drive in those days, but I spent hours alone in the cab of that truck. It smelled of old leather, tobacco, and burnt motor oil. The floorboard had rusted through on the driver’s side and dad spot-welded an old car tag over the hole. He was handy with an acetylene torch.

I knew every knob and lever on the dash. It was a four-on-the-floor. My dad called the first gear in the old beast “granny low” because you only used that gear when the truck was loaded.

I traveled thousands of miles in that truck without ever leaving the backyard.

When my legs grew long enough to reach the clutch and breaks, dad started to let me drive a little. He’d always sit close so that he could grab the wheel if I lost control, but I never did.

Driving the old truck was like a moving puzzle. I had to learn to let off the gas, mash the clutch, and change the gears while steering that baby between the RC Signs.

It was like a real-life video game, except one slip and there could have been hair, teeth, and eyeballs all over the asphalt. At least that’s how it played out in my young mind.

There’s an old Ford truck behind the barn now that belonged to Jilda’s dad Sharky. The truck hasn’t run in years. When I walked yesterday, I noticed a blue-tail lizard sunning on the rusty hood of that old truck.

When I stepped closer, it scurried down through the grill and into the engine compartment.

The door squawked when I opened it. Sliding into the driver’s seat, I sat for a few minutes remembering.

Had I been 12-years old, I would have taken this baby to Brazil.


  1. Precious memories. I am glad you found the time.

  2. Men usually love their old trucks. I'm like that with cars, I get a bit apprehensive when it come tome to change cars once I've gotten used to driving them. I got a new Nissan Rogue in November and it took me a while to get used to all the fangled new gadgets but I love it so much now. It's so solid on the road.

    Hugs, Julia

  3. What wonderful memories of times gone by. I've never own a truck or even driven on, but I had many wonderful rides in one. You can see so much more in a truck that in a car !

  4. I love those old trucks, I was just thinking this morning on how I'd like to find a 60 model GMC or Chevy truck, it was nice to then find your post waiting for me...Thank you for sharing your memories with us this morning.

  5. Your memories bring back so many of my own. I'm feeling warm and nostalgic now.

  6. I like the look of old cars and utes

  7. When I was 16, I had a slot car that was a 46 Chevy truck; yellow with a black top and wood bed. Old trucks draw people to them and I think it might be the knowledge that they all could tell stories, lots and lots of good stories.

  8. Something there is about old Pickup trucks, dead or alive!

  9. I.Love.This.Post! Cracking up about your vacuuming up enough red clay to make a flower pot.


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