I first posted this nine years ago, and like to re-post it every few years. It shows how much trucking has changed, but it is still the same old B.S.
- 38 years ago today I tried to deliver my first load. I was barely 20 years old, sitting in Baltimore at a closed receiver, with a flat tire on my steering, loaded with sweet corn on a dry box [ no reefer ] , needing 3,000 # ice ASAP, on a HOT July 4th holiday.
I live in Florida, was just a kid, but had been around trucks all my life. Dad was a trucker, and in the produce business. The summer I turned 20 years old, we bought a Kenworth for me to learn to truck. Paid $15,500 for a 1970 cab-over. 3 year old truck with a V-8 903 Cummins,13 speed, torsion bar suspension. Nice truck, and as dad said, it would outrun the word of God.Very fast.Bought a 40 foot Great Dane dry box.
Well,I learned to drive it around the county for a few days, and then Dad called me one morning. He was in North Carolina, working a produce deal, and needed a truck for a load the next day.Told me to be there the next morning.
I bought me a new black cowboy hat, cashed a check at the bank for 200 bucks [ fuel was only about 30 cents a gallon ], and left Florida for Eastern North Carolina.
The Interstate was not yet completed, so some of the dead head 650 mile trip was on backroads. Not all 4 lanes.
Got there the next morning, July 3, shipper told me to go to a farm and load 900 boxes sweet corn from a hydo-cooler, then go top-ice it at the ice-house. Remember, no refrigeration unit on my trailer.The shipper said he would usually not load a dry box with perishable sweet corn, but knew me and was OK with it.
Finally got loaded and iced about dark, and he told me to head towards Baltimore, for a 6 am appointment at A & P . And yea tomorrow was a holiday, but they DO receive.Shipper had double checked.
Left out for the 300 mile trip,AC quit, all on back-roads, finally found place about 5 am in downtown Baltimore.Very bad area. Remember, no cell phones, no GPS,very few CB,s. Hard to get info.
Anyway, get there and the guard laughs and says no receiving until tomorrow, today is a holiday. I knew that was going to happen.
Walk back to truck, flat on steering on drivers side.
Still had about 100 bucks left, but finding a tire repair shop that made road calls on a holiday in downtown Baltimore ? Finally found one, got new tube put in for only $45. Remember this was 1973.
Well, produce buyer had screwed up,and I was sitting with a load of VERY perishable sweet corn that required ice.Needed at least a ton blown on top.
Dad finally found an open ice house in Wilmington, Delaware,and they sent me there. But they were closing early so I had to hammer down. Finally get there,the workers were mad because they had to wait on me.Anyway,blew ice on the corn, and headed back to Baltimore. I was getting tired, but knew if I screwed up there would be trouble. At 20 years old, I still had to prove myself.
Maryland scale sign said closed, but I saw a cop car at the scale house, so I pulled in. Officer quickly yelled at me the sign said closed, and I had better leave quickly. Yessir, I replied. Do not believe I had ever seen a log book at the time.
Getting back to A&P in Baltimore about midnight, I thought about my cash. Remember, this was before credit cards,fuel cards, ATM's. No way to get more cash. And very hard to communicate with no cell phones. Had to locate a pay phone, and hang around while you got a callback.
Check in at gate next morning at 6 am,new guard tells me I should have been there at midnight,they had a message to give me a door ASAP. Nobody told me.
First time I had to back in a door between trailers. Other drivers helped, and I finally bumped the dock.
Could not afford the $25.00 lumper fee, so started unloading it myself. The forklift operator was slow about keeping the pallets pulled out of the door,and the corn was getting warmer. I gave the operator a dollar [ yes, a WHOLE dollar ] , and he got in a hurry.
That first load taught me a lot.
All of this for a load that paid 350 bucks. Not much even back then.
People will give you wrong information,trucks break down, law enforcement can be a- holes,you get tired, everyone wants money from you,rates are cheap. and things just plain go wrong. Trucking is trucking.
In the past 38 years, I have nearly always been involved with trucking. Either driving, having a driver on one as I farmed, or running several. I was always an independent, never would lease to the big guys.
I posted this long account so newer hands could see trucking has not changed, and never will.
- But I still enjoy it.
47 years ago------ My first load hauled.
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My first solo load was 1976. 18 years old, load of lumber from a sawmill south of Jacksonville to Key West. A GMC Astro, AC worked sporadically at 60 mph.
Had a two trailer tires blow out, limped to the 76 truckstop at Vero Beach(TA today), sawmill owner had to wire money To me.
Made it to KW helped unload. Drove up to Deerfield Bch. Slept on A1A at a beach pull off,slept on the trailer, still remember the surf crashing and the somewhat cool breeze off the Atlantic.
Made it back with no problems.
As said before, I had a lot to prove.
Great thread, and here's mine. ( dialing in Wayback machine) The time was the colorful late 70's, I was hanging out at a bar in Milwaukee, called the "Tracks". I was a friend of a woman bartender there, ( met my ex-wife there, also a bartender), this other gal, says, "you a truck driver, hey, my bf has his own truck, maybe you can ride with him". Okay, what the heck. Previously, I had dump truck, and straight truck jobs, but no semi. Well, I met "Bill", who became my mentor and best friend for lo these 40 years. He had just bought a '76 W900, just like Snowman's, traded his Mayflower Astro, and this guy thought he was truly Jerry Reed. 350 Cummins,( a big motor for the 70's) 13, TORSION BAR suspension,,,and off we go. He found a guy in Laurens, Iowa, Ron Reed, of RRR trucking, who didn't care what we had for credentials, he just liked his wagon behind the KW. It's really how it was. We were running on a 30 day temp. tag, and pulled RRR's reefer, with packaged pork out of Storm Lake to the docks of JAX, Fl. Naturally, we had to go around every scale, and it was winter. No trucking school in the world could have ever prepared me for what I was about to embark on. As perilous as the trip down was, ( at least it got warmer) the trip back was equally nerve wracking. We hooked onto a load of oranges( what else? learned about trip leases) going back to DesMoines. Naturally, go around all the scales again, it POURED going across Fla. and AL., then it got cold, and everything froze. He had no air dryer, so the brakes began to freeze, then the reefer threw that long fan belt, so we had no reefer heat. We FINALLY get to Des Moines, they ALMOST rejected the load. When I got back, I said to my friend, it's been fun, but I'll never do OTR again, and for 35 years, I was a local Joe. Needless to say, I got a "seat of the pants" training,,,yer turn,,,Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
Mar 1, 1976....Brand new CDL in hand and my used '68 Pete single screw Cab over hooked to American Redball trailer #EE468. getting dispatched from Orange, Ca. to El Paso, Tx. empty to stage for my first load. Pulled into Petro exit 37 and learned a lot from the hands layed over for the weekend.
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