George Worthy
George Worthy

Did I ever tell you about my pickup? Oh, no need to reply. If I go one day without speaking about the “Green Machine,” I start to get the shakes and Lorraine runs out of the room. Don’t get me wrong, she knew that the truck went with the owner (me). I didn’t get to drive it away from the church after the nuptials, but it was on my mind that blessed day.

If you have been anywhere with me while the truck was running, you probably know just about everything that has ever been explained about the plethora of wires hanging down under the dash. You see, I have owned that truck for over 55 years. I found it down in Paso Robles, drove it up to my house in San Jose, happier as I have ever been to have a truck just like my dad had bought when I was too young to have a license to drive. Of course, that never stopped me from tearing the roads around Wasco. Did I ever get stopped by the authorities? Sure, but the police were a little more understanding in those days.

I used to live in the country in a house that was furnished by the owner of the ranch my dad worked for. The road to my house went by the airport in Wasco and all the kids that lived in that part of the country would drive by the airport on the way to high school. Often times there would be a crop duster plane sitting there getting filled with whatever chemicals were being sprayed that day. The student would stop on the side of the road and wait until the plane, it was an old Steerman airplane with an open cockpit, would start to roll out to take off. Then the race was on. The cars almost never beat the plane, but when they did it gave them bragging rights at school.

I was on my way to school that fateful day when this black Ford F-100 passed my brother and I going in the opposite direction. I was looking at the truck pretty close as cars meant everything to kids in those days, and I wanted to know who had bought a brand new pickup. Then I almost freaked out. “Hey Roger,” I yelled at my brother. “That was daddy!” As usual my brother ignored me. But I was sure and I turned around on the seat. Boy, oh boy! Before school was out that day I had inherited a new pickup that was hopped up with a big old V-8 and a great radio. I might add here that I was inclined to exaggerate at that age.

When the bus stopped at my house, I almost jumped out of the window. I was sure that there was a brand new pickup somewhere in the yard. I ran around the house because it didn’t take long to see there was nothing new in front. Alas, there was nothing in the back either. I was so let down I almost cried. Being 11 years old I managed to repress that, but I was so destroyed that MY new pickup was not there.

I walked into the house slowly like that guy in the movie “The Green Mile.” I was walking to the front door to see if my eyes had deceived me when I heard a horn honk. If you are old enough to remember horns in those days, they were pretty utilitarian. They beeped in one tone. I ran to the door and stepped out as Dad drove that black beauty into the yard. The closest I can compare the feeling that I had was the birth of my first child. OK, it wasn’t that great, but at my age it was a really a big deal. It was magnificent. It was as black as coal and even had a chrome front grill. That was extra in those days and my Pop was not one to spend money foolishly.

I told myself that day that I would own a truck like that someday. I looked at yards and garages all over the world. Every field trip that I was on was not for the enemy but for another truck like that one.

I had washed Dad’s truck every week and kept looking. Then, 15 years later while on a two-week summer camp with an Army reserve unit that I was assigned to out of San Francisco, I happened to drive into Paso Robles. As I drove down the exit road there it was, this dusty old pickup with cobwebs in the one window that wasn’t broken. It was a 1956 Ford F-100. Fortunately, the small truck era wasn’t as active back then and the owner didn’t know how much I wanted that truck, so I got a great deal.

Lorraine has politely mentioned to me that I may have told you readers about the purchase and upkeep of my truck in a former column. Well, yes, that may be true, but just telling you about that reminds me of the fun I have had fixing it up and getting it into the second issue of Trucking Magazine back in 1973.

It has been part of my story for all those years and has seemed to fly by till now. For the past 36 years, it has taken a back seat to the efforts of getting married, having children and growing old. I wouldn’t trade those years for all the gold in Fort Knox. They have given me all that I have and made me the man I am today.

For the past few years with the children grown and me a great grandfather, I started sniveling to Lorraine that I wanted to get it fixed up. As usual she wanted me to be happy and said, “Get it done.” OK, maybe I could have bought a new car for what it will cost, but she never wavered, and except for the little squeal she let out when she was told what it would cost, she has done as she always does, made me happy.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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