At 72 years of age, my engine has turned over a few times. I have multiple dents in my fender, my tailgate shows wear, and I have plenty of dings in my wooden truck bed. So, as I hear the hotrods roaring to the Dells for the annual Automotion classic car show, my cherry red paint wants to curl up. Most of these Street Rods, Roadsters, and Muscle Cars, with flames painted on their sides or flames shooting out from their tailpipes, are what I once heard someone call Trailer Queens. They’re only taken out of their climate-controlled garages to come to events like this to strut their stuff. Yet they’re getting all the attention. It’s enough to make a hardworking farm truck cranky.
Sure, you must admire the Batmobile or the Blues Brothers’ Bluesmobile. And that vintage car with the velvet rumble seat is mighty fine. But, I’m here to tell you, polished chrome, fancy skirts, and shiny finishes don’t do it for this old truck.
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I’ve never been afraid to get dirty or smelly and have never been too proud to haul garden manure for my owner, Frank Laundrie. My wooden bed never sagged when I hauled more than a ton of rocks so he and his wife could build a water garden. But my springs sure ached.
I was taught to earn my way, not parade around like a peacock. I recall the November when my owner put chains on my tires. The following morning it was minus 10 degrees. Frank and his father climbed in my cab with their blaze orange clothes and rifles. Frank cranked my old engine. Once, twice, and on the third try, I kicked over and started. I had to plow through snowdrifts that day, but I got my hunters to their stand. I was mighty proud of myself.
Hmm, I wonder if these “classic cars” ever got to feel that satisfaction.
It’s possible these young hot rods, pampered with their spa treatments of high-octane fuel and extra lubricants, don’t know the satisfying feeling of other tasks either. Jobs like clearing a field of stumps. Come to think of it, their owners probably confine them to garages. I’d bet my last gallon of gas most have never gotten to bring their owners to a quiet fishing stream where they could soak up the spring sunshine or feel a cooling rain ping off their roof and hood.
These Trailer Queens are getting out now, but I bet the rest of the time they’re stuck under cover. Now me, I got to go camping at Devil’s Lake back when Frank and Amy’s son was small. Frank had rigged up a canvas roof and fitted my bed with a mattress. That was lots more exciting than being stuck in a shed.
I also got to haul Frank, his father, mother, and his grandmother down logging roads while they searched for blueberries. Frank’s grandmother and mother had to sit in lawn chairs in the back, but they didn’t mind. They laughed and joked, calling each other Granny Clampett.
I’m remembering the golden day I took Frank and his father grouse hunting when I hear Frank mention my name. He tells Amy that he wants to tweak a few things under my hood so I’m ready for the Land O’ Lakes 4th of July parade. My headlights want to beam.
I learn I get to transport Uncle Sam and members of the historical society for the big northern Wisconsin parade. I bet Frank gets me all spiffed up. Maybe someone will compliment my latest paint job or say I look good for my age. If my motor was running, it would be purring.
Amy adds that Reedsburg’s Reedikulous Days wants me to make an appearance in July. “Kids will get to put on costumes and get their pictures taken by the classic truck,” she said. “They’ll love it.”
The Trailer Queens can have their weekend. This old farm truck still has what it takes, and my front grill nearly cracks from my grin. More fun adventures are just down the road.
Author Amy Laundrie, a Wisconsin Dells resident, writes a weekly column for Capital Newspapers. Reach her at email@example.com.