Trucks

Trucks, like poetry, speak to the soul of a man. If God had not created Eve, he might have gotten away with just giving Adam a good truck.

“Adam, I’m worried that you’re all alone. If I could give you anything, what would it be?”

“How ‘bout a truck? I could haul apples to market.”

Wisdom prevailed and women have turned out to be a pretty good deal. But a man knows that other than his wife, he needs a truck. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be perfect. No sir. A few dings and gauge or two that doesn’t work is just right.

The first truck I remember was my Dad’s ‘49 Chevy. Good trucks have names, and he called her Nellie Bell, after the milk cow. He painted it with a brush and some WWII paint that he got at the salvage yard. Green body. White cab from the bottom of the windows up. Chains and hooks for the tail gate.

Then there was the ‘58 International. Baby blue with fenders like a Rhino’s hind quarters. Three speed on the column. Starter button on the floor board. A steering wheel the size of a hula hoop. And the dimmer switch down there next to your left foot where God intended it to be.

That’s the truck I learned to drive when I was way too young to be legal. Putt’n through the hay field while men in sweat drenched long sleeve shirts loaded square bales on the back. Dad, Billy, Walker, Tooty and Orange. I would ease along and it would creak and sway when you crossed a terrace loaded above the cab. I imagined I was John Wayne moving behind enemy lines delivering supplies to the troops.

It was a ‘68 Chevy out of which Dad and I sold water and donuts to the crowd at the Atlanta Pop Festival. Tie-dyed hippies desperate for some relief.

I spent the most time in the ‘71 F-100. The first truck that Dad ever bought brand new. We hauled a many a cow to the sale barn in Jackson in that truck. If you’ve never tried it, put two 600 lb. cows in the back of a half-ton truck. Cows move around. I guess they like to see the sights. It feels kind of like an overloaded John boat on the water. The front tires floating almost off the ground. You drive at the tipping point all drawn up in the seat of your pants.

It was the truck that I doted on because it was the truck that took me places. I washed off the manure and polished the hood so I could ask for the keys and take Mary Lou to the bowling alley in Griffin. It stayed out with me until all hours of the night. It helped move me off to college. I drove it to Selma to meet my wife’s family for the first time. It was a sad day when Dad got rid of it for a Nissan.

I drive my own Chevy these days with something north of 462,000 miles on her. The headliner sags. Not all the dash lights work. But the AC is good, as long as I reach under the dash and flip the damper control by hand. My 4 year old granddaughter sits in my lap and “drives” around the tree farm. Truck memories are being made.

My wife says, “Isn’t it about time you got rid of that truck?” I almost faint. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I know the end is coming. But not yet. “A good wife, who can find one?” asks Solomon. You could say the same thing about a truck. You find one and you had better keep it.

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