I love old trucks. I mean really old trucks like from the 1940s to the 1960s. Now this wasn’t always the case.
My Daddy always owned a truck of one style or another, but usually it was the “farm” truck used for a myriad of agriculture hauling or pulling things like the hay wagon or sometimes his boat. Many times Daddy would even lend his truck to a neighbor who only had a car, which obviously isn’t appropriate for carrying trash to the dump. That’s what farm people do; they share equipment, or their time, and sometimes just a good story about their garden.
My favorite truck of Daddy’s was the red Ford truck he had back in the mid-sixties. My sister and I loved to ride in the cab, no seatbelts, of course, and fight over who would sit by the window. Back then, it took both of my hands to roll down the manual window, and I loved sitting on my knees to peer at myself in the big side-view mirror.
Later in my pre-teen years, I would almost vomit if I had to ride in Daddy’s truck. As important as trucks are to a farm my dread of being seen in one grew exponentially especially during my highschool years at the Academy! I would rather take out my own liver than have to DRIVE a truck. My worst day of highschool was the morning Daddy said, “Just take my truck!” At that time, the farm truck was a used souped up red and white F-150 that announced your arrival ten minutes before you reached the destination. Imagine how all 5′ foot nothing of me looked peering between the steering wheel and pulling up to St. Scholastica’s. I parked next to my best friend, Laurie Legendre, whose Daddy owned the local Ford Dealership. She had the good fortune of driving a new “dealer’s car” every year. The juxtaposition of my old truck next to her new silver Thunderbird just added to my teenage angst and shame.
Oddly enough the last truck my Daddy drove, a 1982 Brown Ford truck, became one of my most treasured possessions. I was living in New York City when we found out my Dad had stage IV lung cancer. I came home for an extended time to help Mama care for him as he convalesced at home. My mode of transportation was Daddy’s old truck, which was a stick shift with no A/C and the no-frills manual windows. Mama told me I could borrow her air-conditioned Lincoln Town car — “It’s too hot for you to drive around in that old thing!” she said, but I didn’t care. My father loved his truck and that summer I fell in love with it too.
Naturally after my daddy died I only wanted to sit at home and cry or go for long solo country drives in my father’s old truck. One day my friend Laurie, called me to help her move from her apartment in New Orleans back to her parent’s home in Covington Country Club. She needed a truck. Off I went despite my mourning to help my girlfriend. We loaded up her belongings in the back of Daddy’s brown F-150 and drove across the Causeway to the Legendre house on Tchefuncte Drive. I parked the truck in the long sloping driveway and helped Laurie carry in her belongings. Just as we were lugging a 42 inch Zenith television upstairs to her mom’s sewing room, we heard the hugest explosion. We carefully put down the TV on the second story landing and tip-toed to the window to see what could have possibly blown up.
There embedded in Laurie’s parents’ garage was the back end of my F-150. Oddly enough, that truck was purchased years before from “Legendre Ford”, so I felt hopeful for some redemption. At least when Laurie called her parents, at Sal & Judy’s eating dinner, to break the news of the new opening in the front of their home, they had had a couple of martinis. Plus, my dad’s death and the Legendre Ford logo on the tailgate were in my favor. Luckily, we’re all still friends.
I don’t drive a truck or own one but I do collect vintage toy trucks. We found a truck with a cattle carrier at a little antique store in New Braunfels, TX. My husband bought it for me to make up for the one that used to sit on the fireplace mantel. The very one he accidentally placed on top of the wood stove one winter, not realizing its little rubber tires would melt.
Alas, I’m letting go of things and collections and moving on. As R. Crumb penned back in the 70’s “Keep on Truckin’!” . That’s what I’m gonna do.