The Little Blue Truck That Could

Hello all, and Happy December!

Last week as I was look checking some things, I found this comment tucked away in a feedback section of the blog.  It had been sent to me from my dad’s uncle Pete back in June and I had somehow never found it until now.

Kelly, i am so grateful for your initiative to create this on behalf of your family. I understand the American Dream as well as anyone. My mind reflected back on many of the times you wrote about but one area that needs to be included is the big blue diesel truck with the huge fifth wheel trailer. Ron used to stop by our office as he shuffled cars back and forth to the auction with that rig. Every time I saw it I was reminded of his stick-to-it ability. The truck was too small for the load but the modified transmission and heavy duty everything held together for thousands of miles more than it was capable of. Ron didn’t start in the trucking business with a new hauler. He grew into the trucking business with the same ingenuity that made him successful. It wasn’t education, it wasn’t mentoring from experts…it was just plain determination. Determination along with endless hard work is the soil where dreams are grown. What a great tribute…thanks for this great post and give everyone our love.

The truck my uncle is speaking of is an old ford, long gone by now but definitely part of our family’s and of course, C&R’s history.  My mom and I looked for a picture (the reason I didn’t post last week :), but never found one.  It’s funny what we never think to take pictures of.

Back in June and July when I wrote of C&R’s history, I spoke of the red semi truck dad purchased to haul cars from California.  But Uncle Pete was right, we somehow left out the story of dad’s old blue truck.  That little blue truck definitely paved the way to the big red one.

I remember in my early days of middle school when my dad began traveling back and forth to the auctions in California in that truck.  Of course, I was in the throes of early teenage drama and didn’t think nearly as much as I should have about the never ending days my dad -and my mom in support of him- put it trying to keep the business running.  (It makes me want to cry now.)

After finding this sweet note, I called my brother Shawn to ask him to help me understand what my uncle meant when he wrote,

“the modified transmission and heavy duty everything held together for thousands of miles more than it was capable of.”

Once again, I guess I never thought anything different of my dad’s blue truck and the long trailer he pulled back and forth to California, hauling three cars at a time.  By the time I gave it much thought at all, there seemed to be plenty of trucks on the road like this.  Shawn and Ronnie explained that when Dad started going to California, C&R was in a tight spot.  Dad wasn’t buying enough cars and so he was having a terrible time finding someone to haul for him.  Freight companies were happy to haul cars for companies who were shipping 10 cars at a time, as they could make one stop and unload everything at once.  However, C&R was only buying two or three each week, so it would sometimes take weeks to find a hauler who was willing to go out of their way for only three cars.  Once again, my dad tried to think outside the box- something he had been forced to do from the start.  He figured he was already there, why not try to get the cars back himself?

Like he had always done, he found something he could afford and adapted it to meet his needs.   My brothers said that at the time it was rare to see trucks of this kind on the road.  Ronnie explained, “There weren’t very many people hauling those big trailers.  Dad bought that old truck and we rebuilt the motor.  Back in those days the speed limits the were low and so on those big, long hills out to California it was hard to make the gearing work.  Third gear was too low so your engine was wrapped up and there was too big of a gap between fourth, so we found a two speed transmission that split the gears and gave us the ability to have more options on the pulling.  We ran that old truck down the road for a lot of years.”

That mechanic talk is all greek to me, but I guess what I learned this week was that Dad’s old blue truck and long old trailer wasn’t as simple or as cookie-cutter as I thought it had been.  It came about because it was it was his only choice and so he and the boys figured out a way to make it work.  And work it did, just like my dad.

Some of you might know that the Saturday following Thanksgiving is known as Small Business Saturday.  Obviously, it does not garner the same attention as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  But as I have thought of my dad these past few weeks, and hundreds like him- men and women trying to grow dreams into a reality with little to go on but hard work, ingenuity, and determination.  I am humbled and a little heartbroken that I didn’t look outside of myself a little more back in those teenage years to realize how hard my parents worked just to make things work.  Thank heavens for growing up, I guess.  And thank heavens to “Uncle Pete” who helped open my eyes to a little piece of my history – something that I had seen roll by my window a thousand times but had hardly given a second thought.

Ron didn’t start in the trucking business with a new hauler. He grew into the trucking business with the same ingenuity that made him successful. It wasn’t education, it wasn’t mentoring from experts…it was just plain determination. Determination along with endless hard work is the soil where dreams are grown.

 

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