This driver has experienced a lot in his years on the road
I’VE DRIVEN close to 5 million miles. I’ll be 74 in September and still run about 3,000 miles a week. It’s been quite a ride.
I guess the thing about trucks that first fascinated me was the air brakes. I loved the sound of them when I was a kid, and it stuck with me. So when I got out of the Air Force I started to ride with a guy who hauled furniture, and I would load and unload, getting paid 25 cents per hundredweight and $7 expense money.
I tried and tried to get a job driving and couldn’t find one until finally I told a lie and said I had driving experience. They didn’t check me out too close and I went to work for a company in Omaha in 1957. The truck they gave me had two sticks in it, and I had never driven a truck. They sent me to Chicago and I made it. Then they sent me to San Francisco, and there were no interstates there then, so I had my work cut out for me, but I made it back and finally got pretty good at driving.
I bought my first truck in 1960 and I guess the rest is history. I have had 11 trucks since then as an owner-operator. Now I drive for a company.
I grew up in the South, and when I was younger I used to spend a lot of time in Nashville, and around the Grand Ole Opry when I had the chance. I spent time with friends like Roy Acuff and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. I love to play an instrument called the dobro, and I learned how to play it when I was on the road. The man who taught me would send me a lesson on a cassette tape and I’d practice, then record over it, and send it back to him in Nashville with $10. I did that for two years, driving a truck the whole time. I still have a steel guitar, and every once in a while might teach a guy how to play a little bit.
Oh boy, have I ever seen changes over the years. It’s a whole different kind of driver now — they are all in a hurry to get nowhere — and the equipment is much bigger and has more horsepower. When I started I had a 28 foot trailer, now I’m pulling a 53 footer. I know that all of these drivers are concerned about saving fuel so I want to share my secret — let that right foot up a little.
My wife died about five years ago, so the road is my home. I’ve made so many friends around the country, I’m at home just about anywhere. I’m a professional tourist now. I pretty much pick my loads so if I want to see a niece in Boise or a nephew in Atlanta, I can.
I don’t know how much longer I will keep driving but I do enjoy it. My advice to other drivers: Always remember it takes longer to fill out an accident report than to give the right of way to another driver. Take it easy.
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Hard Work/Big Dreams
28 White Bridge Road, Suite 209
Nashville, TN 37205