This story comes from something that I had been noticing for a while, and as time progressed, I saw it (just Ta title)!
I don’t think that any of those people involved would mind me bringing attention to such a simple (yet noble) cause. It’s When I got the memo from Mrs. Maglio (our CEO and editor) that she was looking for stories concerning our fathers, it was like, how much space am I allowed? Our dad was not the “Leave it to Beaver” type of role model that many post-Korean War men aspired to emulate. He had his good and bad days, and as hard as he tried, couldn’t be chained down to a desk job. He eventually went from pushing a pen with John Hancock Insurance to pulling (and setting up) modular homes and office trailers.
There is a term for when someone starts driving diesel-powered rigs and sticks with it for life. In conversations around the diners of truck stops, a familiar question heard over a cup of “40 weight” (or strong coffee) was, “How old were you when you got that #2 diesel into your blood?” It got to him in his early ‘40s, and that was a big part of his life (until he couldn’t drive anymore). Back in the early 1970s, he would get on the CB (Citizens Band radio) and get pertinent information regarding road conditions ahead of him. Back then, each “operator” had call numbers and a government “call sign,” and he was KBQ9827-Mobile #1 (The Ramblin’ Man)! Once I got out of the army and started hauling alongside him, I was KBQ9827 Mobile #2, The Tennessee Walker. We would hook on to double wide (12ft. by 60ft. units that are spliced together to form a single large structure).
About a decade later, my younger brother, Scott, would tag along behind us with his Dodge truck (carrying supplies) or sometimes would run point to get us through the tough intersections. He went by “Style Dog” on the CB radio. (And I can add that my brother is looking forward to his retirement soon and planning to drive a diesel-powered motor coach across the country. (Yes, the “#2 diesel” got in his blood as well). He has his “Class-A” license, and as he works for a space-based contractor, he can be found motoring around the Kennedy Space Center complex with various large space rocket components behind him. Now, our dad would take on projects that many others in the field of mobile office work would turn down. I can recall us assembling unit configurations varying from double wides to 4, 5, and even “10-Packs” (units all put together to form 1 building). Brother Scott even went with him all the way out to New Mexico to assist in a large-scale job. (That’s how he got “hooked.”)
Dad would tell us boys, “Stand behind your work and do your best at it.” He despised crooked office trailer salesmen, and he would tell them about it to their faces! Business was booming all the way up to the point where the nationwide truck chain we ran with (National Trailer Convoy) got decimated due to President Ronald Reagan deregulating the trucking industry. Later on, we would end up moving our whole business from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to up here in Brooksville.
While trying to get a business “foot in the door,” we took on many different commodities to transport. One of them was boxed military freight (loaded on flatbed rigs). I am fondly recalling a time when we did a “team run” (both of us driving a rig across country). He would often say to me, “If you ever get into an area that is interesting enough to check out, take the time to do it, or you will regret it later!” He also mentioned to me that one of his “Bucket List” things to do was to check out the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
On one occasion, we hauled a load of freight up to St. Louis, Missouri, and when the dispatcher gave me the choice between a load going north, or one going to New Orleans, I jumped on the southern contract. Oh, and I should also mention that this was just days before “Fat Tuesday,” the main parade days. I came out of the phone booth (remember those), and when he asked me which direction we were headed, I said, “I don’t know if you will want to hear this, but we are picking a load up here, and delivering it down the street from Bourbon, and Canal Streets, (the dead center of the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities)! Now, that was one of the tightest toughest city runs that we had ever taken on, but once the freight was off the truck, we parked the rig and headed for a good spot to catch the parade. As long as I live, I will never forget the look on his face when I told him where we were going. (It was only topped by the look he had the first time he jumped up off the curb to catch a handful of beads being thrown off of one of the parade floats)! That is something that cannot be easily described. (You kinda had to be there to experience it)! I hope that everybody has a good Father’s Day (and if you cannot be with your father, at least tell someone of an interaction with your dad that will make them smile)!