Daddy’s Ragged Old Truck

By Robert Rhoades

It seems Daddy was working for a printing shop in Atlanta in the late 40’s and early 50’s named Gate City Printing. It was a small printing shop and all they could afford was itenerant pressmen like my dad and his brother, Jack (Pete And Repeat). From time to time there were other workers like Spud, the 16 year old who looked 25. And Junior Salmon worked there, too. There are lots of stories about them that will be revealed later.

But daddy was given a truck because the owners, Johnny and Barbie, were so fond of him. It was a 1936 Chevrolet paneled sedan delivery truck. It had a few dents because it was the company delivery truck. The clutch didn’t work too well. The steering column came loose regularly (while driving). And the rings were shot. It burned so much oil that there were no mosquitoes between Gate City printing and our house in Clarkston. But it was well received because daddy and Jack could ride together to work in this car!

This truck had no back seats and that was good! Daddy would throw one of the matresses from a large bed into the back. Then all the kids would pile in while mom and dad drove us to Augusta. The trip took about five to six hours so somewhere about twelve or one o’clock in the morning we would arrive at our grandmother’s house. I, being the youngest, would usually pass out before we got to Conyers. The rest would be asleep before Thompson.
Once we travelled to Augusta and only stopped long enough to take on more passengers. Everybody that wanted to go was allowed until we had a total of thirteen in that un-airconditioned truck. We never ate at a restaurant or slept in a motel. We took picnic type food and slept in, on, under and around the truck. I remember gathering driftwood along the beach for the fire that cooked the crabs we had for supper that night. After a few days of that we headed back from Charleston to Augusta but coming back was different. we were sunburned and sand was everywhere. It was miserable. Dad had a bucket of fish iced down and tied to the front bumper and they got to smelling so bad it was gagging everyone so we had to stop and pour them out. Then the steering wheel came off and we went plowing through a cornfield before we could get tthe truck stopped. While dad went to town for parts we all waited at a country store. Since this was before air conditioning we waited outside where it was hot and dusty. That’s when cousin frank decided to knock down a wasps nest and several people got stung. Everybody was mad at Frank but of course everybody was usually mad at Frank for something.

Many times we would follow the same routine of packing a mattress and picnic lunch and go to Lake Alatoona. I loved waking up to breakfast at the lake. Anytime I smell fresh coffee and bacon frying it reminds me of those early days.

Daddy, years later, finally sold the truck for $35 so he would have money to take my mother out for their anniversary. She was mad at him that night and refused to go anywhere. We sure missed that truck. (Eddie’s comment) We five kids stood in the driveway watching the truck that was practically a part of our family leaving and we all cried. I was sad for days.

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