When I was 12, I rode with my father in his propane truck to the western part of Virginia, around the Roanoke area, to deliver propane to homes. I got hooked! To watch him shift the gears on what they called back then a duplex shifter, because it was 2 sticks instead of 1. One for the high side and one for the low side of the transmission.
I remember stopping at least 2 times on our way out there and maybe 3 times on the return trip. My dad did make the comment on how my head was bobbing and weaving just about the whole trip. I tried to stay awake but I couldn’t. He said that if he had of known that I was going to be sleeping the whole way, he would have left me at home. Then he laughed. At that age, I would have followed my father anywhere! I spent a lot of time with him, whether he was cutting grass, under the car, or in his shed, tinkering. We often went fishing when my 3 brothers did not want to go.
During that time, there was a TV show called BJ and the Bear, a truck driver with a chimp as his co-driver. Movies like Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit, also left an impression on me that made me want to hit the road then. That diesel bug bit the hell out of me but I had to get over the fear of walking in front of a truck with the engine running. I can blame the movie Duel for that! I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to drive a truck like Greg Evigan in BJ and the Bear, a 1977 Kenworth K100E Cabover.
My aunt in Philadelphia was dating a man that was a truck driver and drove a cabover for a jellies and jams company. Our house was located on a hill that our card had a problem climbing, especially after a good rain. My uncle drove that cabover up that hill and I thought my heart would explode. My mother kept yelling for me to calm down before I passed out. I laugh at it now, but back then, there was nothing better than that!!
In my mind, trucking was just like it was on TV and the movies. Didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t. I set things in motion to make sure my career in trucking would be inevitable. It took me some years, I was 34 when I got started, but I started!