Thursday, October 25, 2007

1950 Chevy Truck

My brother and I both learned to drive on this truck.

I put a dent in one of the doors - maybe both doors - a few times actually. I was really young when I would go out and feed the cattle myself. It made me so proud. I wasn't really supposed to. Usually I could push the bales of hay (they were small then) over onto the bed of the truck. I wasn't supposed to lift a bale to the truck bed but I didn't obey very well so had a hernia repair when I was about 10. Got a new catcher's mitt though.

My brother and I both started driving out in the pasture before we were tall enough to reach the floor. But it had a really low gear called "compound" and once you had it going in that gear you didn't need to do anything but steer. Brakes never did work anyway. I've heard people call "compound" a granny gear but they obviously hadn't met my granny.

My kids both got to drive it in the pasture, too. My son lived an entire year with my parents once and helped work the cattle and do other things on the farm. He still fondly recalls that experience.

The 1950 Chevy wasn't the first truck we had. The one before this one was bigger and older. I think it might have been a 1946 Chevy 2 ton. It made this 1950 Chevy 3/4 ton seem like the most modern vehicle in the world. This isn't it but is kind of what I remember it looking like.

We, along with most of the families we knew, only had one car and dad drove it to work. But we had this truck for use on the farm. Dad had some taller sideboards for it that we used to haul a few head of steers to market on occasion. Looking at the size of the thing now it hardly seems worth it but I clearly remember us doing it.

I loved going to the stockyards in Oklahoma City. It was just a busy and complex place. Sometimes dad would take us to eat in Cattlemen's which is still there. I remember the murals on the walls and the red upholstered booths. I thought that was about as uptown as you could get.

Right inside the door was this old rocking chair and the owner sometimes sat there. On the floor by the chair was a spittoon. And it wasn't just for looks then either.

Mr. Wade owned Cattlemen's during my time and he had won it in a dice game. But that was like in 1945 or something and the restaurant dates from 1910. It is still there today in the stockyards area of Oklahoma City. I used to eat lunch there several times a month.

At one time supposedly the "oldest waitress" worked there and she was in her late 80's. I can't remember her name now. I don't know if she really was the oldest but she had to be a definite contender.

But the image that sticks out in my mind is my mother driving the old 1950 Chevy to the nearest shopping area which was quite a ways off. Everyone dressed up then when they went out and mom dressed up as nice or nicer than most. She sewed all of her own clothes and was really a good tailor. So she'd put her nice clothes on and dress me up as well and we'd climb in the cab of this old truck with the cattle sideboards dripping manure here and there and off we'd go. We wouldn't be the only truck with stock sideboards though.

Once I remember becoming lost inside a department store on one of our trips. The sheer terror and panic I felt at not being able to find my mother amidst the sea of legs and bodies still is fresh in memory. Someone found me though and our reunion was wonderfully sweet.

I tell you though when you climb in the cab of this old truck you really get a sense of how much larger people we have become than we were 50 years ago. That seat doesn't adjust very much and the steering wheel does not move at all. I know quite a few people that would not be able to drive this thing.

I left the vacuum windshield wipers on the truck. The guy that restored it for me wanted to replace them with electric ones. But I wanted it to be as close to the way it was as I could make it. You've really never lived until you've driven a truck with vacuum wipers in a bad rain storm.

I hired the guy to restore the truck the year my mother died. I had this idea of me and dad driving the thing around with our grandkids in the back. But it took a really long time to restore the truck. Dad wasn't able to really go anywhere by the time I got it back. And it wouldn't have made any difference to him by then anyway.

The old truck isn't of much importance historically or to anyone but me and a few others in my family. But it makes me kind of happy and I guess that's not so bad.


~Betsy said...

You have such a wealth of interesting memories, Terry. Your childhood reminds me of the old episodes of 'Timmy and Lassie'. If you tell me you had a collie, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.

I love hearing about your time growing up, learning to drive in the pasture and your lovely memories of your mother. Thanks so much for sharing.

Chris said...

The old Lassie eps, exactly! Or Mayberry RFD. The wholesome stuff that kids nowadays will never know. We had a collie. Her name was Rusty.

The truck is sweet! So many precious memories for you to hold. Thank you for sharing them with us. They make this cold cruel world seem warm for the moment.

SKYGIRL said...

Boy, if you like old Chevy Trucks, Terry, do I have the Photo for You!

I could've probably sold it, but it will just be my gift to You!

It is a Lemon Yellow 1950 something Chevy Pick-Up Truck, with about two feet of snow on top.Just sitting out in a field.

It really is a cool Photo, I will try to dig it out for You!

I was wondering if I had ever been to "The Cattleman's" Restaurant? They sure do like hanging on to things, for a long time, in Oklahoma City!

There is one store that is now kind of a fancy Coffee Shop too.The name of it slips my mind right noe, but I will ask my Sister.

My Grandmother lived on North West 33rd street, and did all of her shopping there.(Expensive, small Market!) In fact when I was there last (in 1998!) the fellow behind the counter, in the Butcher Department, remembered her very well. He said she would come herself to pick up her meats, and was always "Dressed To The Nines" as they say in Oklahoma!

Lori1955 said...

I always love the way you write, Terry. I feel like I am sitting right there in that truck with you. Now of course you must know that my favorite part of the story is Mr. Wade winning the restaurant in a dice game. :)

cornbread hell said...

rich. that's what you are. rich in memories. rich in story telling ability. rich with honest, subdued emotion.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

What beautiful memories, Terry. I love the pictures of the old trucks and I love the way your words just seem to flow off the page and put me right there in the driver's seat.

nancy said...

i agree your story telling is wonderful. i remember bob telling me he learned to drive and old pickup at the age of 12. he too was raised on a farm and he had to drive all the farm equipment.

thanks for sharing.