Long Run

By on September 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

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.

Tell us how has trucking affected your life and you may be featured in Road King.

Write: 

Hard Work/Big Dreams
ROAD KING
28 White Bridge Road, Suite 209
Nashville, TN 37205

Email: hardwork@roadking.com

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