I don’t remember the first time I kissed a girl or saw Star
Wars or my first day at my first job.
But I do remember my first pickup truck.
It was a 1988 Chevrolet C1500 ½ ton 4x4.
Really it wasn’t even my
pickup truck. It was my dad’s. He agreed to let me drive it to school because
the $800 Subaru I purchased from my uncle (for 16 easy installments of $50) was
a stick. It was easy to feign ignorance
or lack of skill in driving a stick, thus convincing my dad to swap vehicles
It might have been hard for an untrained eye to understand
why I did that. The truck was used and
abused but it had a certain charm.
For instance, my favorite place to take a date in high
school was down to the creeks. Despite
what the rally car commercials may lead you to believe, you can’t ford 3 feet
of water in a Subaru. The ole truck was
essential for finding parking spots that no one else could get to.
Outwardly it didn’t appear to be much though and it
certainly had flaws but I like to think of those flaws as “character”.
The engine had well over one hundred thousand miles on it by
the time I got it. Dad believed that
changing the oil was only necessary on odd numbered years – just as long as you
used Valvoline. Its auto transmission
shifted rough. But it did always start.
The hood was nearly completely primer gray from a known
factory defect in painting. Why just
the hood I may never know. The bed was
beat on the inside and rusted. On each
side inside the bed were metal toolboxes that might have been welded together
by someone with less than perfect sight. All the way down the road they rattled
and banged. I never knew if the truck
was coming apart or if it was just the boxes.
On the inside the bench seat was mostly held together with
one of those seat covers with the woven patterns that became ubiquitous in the
70’s (but weren’t quite in style when I got the truck in 1994). A layer of dust about an inch thick
protected the valuable dash. The floor
had a thick plastic mat – proof that trucks don’t ever, ever, ever need
carpet. The dash held two radios. The factory one was just for show but the
one balanced precariously in the factory dash pocket above it worked just fine. Assuming that your definition of fine was
that it ate your favorite Garth Brooks tapes at the most inappropriate
times. Dad had left papers stuffed in
the hole on top of the extra radio. How
it never caught fire I’ll never know.
But sure as I’m writing this now I loved that truck. Last I heard it had been sacrilegiously been
painted red and was approaching 350K miles.
I’ve loved other trucks since but it took me more than 10
years to find another truck I’d love like that one. But in 2007 I bought my Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4x4…and yeah,
it’s got a Hemi.
Dad’s truck was a farm truck tried and true and I had really
forgotten the value of a pickup truck when it comes to farm and homestead
work. I’d never actually stressed a
truck to that level. The real beauty of
a good truck is that if you treat it with kid gloves its gets lazy and weak. But when you beat the hell out of it, the
response you get is dependability and love.
While my truck has carpet and a CD player (that doesn’t
think playing music is optional) it is a working truck and I don’t take it easy
on it. Dents add character!
I’ve pulled trailers with it. It has pulled my bass boat many miles. On more than one occasion I didn’t quite put it in park while
backing the boat in. One’s love for a
truck is in direct proportion by how quickly one can jump in the cab when the
truck rolls ominously toward the water.
It has hauled two harvested whitetail bucks. It has also hauled swingsets and a salvaged
freezer. And it has taken me to work
and back almost every day for 5 years through rain, sleet, snow and the ice
storm of 2009.
Virtually every component on our cabin was hauled by that
truck all the way down our 400 foot dirt (read: mud) drive. It has hauled mulch, rock, sand, compost and
dirt. I know that I can fit enough
dimensional lumber in the bed to create a 16x20 foot wooden floor – completely
framed. It helped move my family closer
to our homestead and ultimately our dream of freedom.
I put my four-year-old son’s carseat in the center so
he can see out over all of creation. He
always begs to take the truck instead of his momma’s car. Looks like this case of truck love is
You can read more about my homesteading and gardening adventures at my blog and podcast - www.theselfsufficientgardener.com