Don Locke: Looking Through Bifocals
Tom T. Hall loves ". . . little baby ducks . . . PICKUP TRUCKS . . . " Me too.
The first pickup I remember much about was our 1939 Ford. My daddy used it in his store business---back then there were few cash-and-carry stores . . . store keepers "carried," and tried to get the cash when they could. We delivered groceries, coal oil, paint and feed. We had to be mindful to keep the coal oil as far from the groceries as possible.
My mother and I used the pickup on Sunday afternoons. At ten I could drive, illegally of course. So, Sunday afternoons were visiting time. Mother would get out the pillows and mail-order catalogs for me to sit on, and away we went. My daddy sang in a Gospel quartet and traveled. My sister was away at college, and my brother was overseas in World War Two. Mother didn't like to stay at home much with just me and her. Mother would have been happy if all her relatives had moved in with us. Some did, a couple of weeks at a time . . . and longer. In retrospect, I find it odd that I never told any of my friends or playmates I could drive . . . at ten years of age. The only thing I can figure-out about that is I suppose I thought they wouldn't believe me. Some wouldn't have.
During World War Two, trucks were hard to come by . . . cars too. Our neighbor who also had a store, used a one-horse wagon a while. He finally found a 1940 Ford pickup with no engine. Some where, of all things, he located a jeep engine (My granddad called it a "jeet") for the pickup. An old guy by the name of Dim Bandy drove it. You could hear Dim coming long before you could see him . . . that Jeep engine had a very different sound . . . almost like a high growl, when it was wound-up.
Another one of our neighbors sold and repaired sewing machines for a living. He made a delivery truck out of a Model A Ford coupe by taking out the rumble seat and putting in a homemade wooden bed.
I remember a guy in college who drove a 1930 Model A Ford pickup. He wore Levi's and a denim jump-jacket. I'm 99 percent sure he became a Baptist preacher. If you've ever seen the movie, THE HIRED HAND, in it Jane Fonda drove one just like it . . . only she was prettier.
One thing about old pickups--they were simple to work on. I had a couple of old ones---heck, you could about crawl in and lay down beside the engines . . . change plugs and points and do a tune-up in general. Spark plugs were easy to get to. On my old 1948 Dodge sometimes the back main bearing would lose some oil and foul the very back plug. No problem. Just pop the plug out, burn the junk off with a torch, brush it and put it back. Now you can't even get to a spark plug on anything. But you knew that.
I traded an aluminum johnboat---straight-up---for that Dodge pickup. After I quit fishing much, our kids and dogs played in the boat. In summer they filled it with water and splashed around; in cooler weather they sailed it around the world two or three times. Our old Wire Fox Terrier, Miss, sailed too. She sat on the stern seat, hanging-on for dear life. The seas got pretty rough at times.
After they outgrew the boat, they drove the old Dodge around in the pasture. Both our kids learned early how to drive a straight shift from this. But you had to watch them, especially when their friends came out, sometimes they wanted to push large-round hay bales. Not particularly good for an old truck.
Then I once had an early 60s model Chevy pickup, for which I paid $200. It was appropriately dubbed, THE CHEESE TRUCK. It was full of rust holes. It ran good. I sold it for $200.
Some unusual pickups: My old friend Ron Tines had a factory-built . . . I stress factory-built . . . Dodge van pickup. It had a large van front; the engine sat between the driver and the passenger. It had been his dad's fishing truck. Ron drove it several years, then gave it away. "I got an awful good blessing out of giving it to someone," he said.
I suppose the most unusual pickup I've ever seen was one owned by a guy in Russellville. It had a tractor-trailer cab and a standard-size pickup bed.
". . . One night I took a ride just across the line. I picked her up in a pickup truck, and she broke this heart of mine . . . "
Kindest regards . . .