No. 153: Pump Like An Egyptian

Pause for a moment, fellow traveler, to give a hat-tip to Ctesibius. Or should that be a nemes* tip? Ctesibius was an inventor in Egypt during the second century BCE. (That was the Ptolemaic Dynasty, of course.) He’s credited with creating the first force pump, a machine to move water. Without Ctesibius, our nation’s fireContinue reading “No. 153: Pump Like An Egyptian”

No. 152: Oozin’ and Cruisin’ in My 88

Perhaps you can hear the song through the dusty old windows: “You women have heard of jalopies/You heard the noise they make/Let me introduce you to my Rocket ’88… Oldsmobile introduced the Rocket 88 in 1949. It fit neatly between two brands already on the roadways, the Olds 78 and 98. The Rocket also introducedContinue reading “No. 152: Oozin’ and Cruisin’ in My 88”

No. 151: Stodgy Dodge

How many seasons has it rested here, the prairie wind sharp and whistling because nothing stands in its way except the battered sides of this old Dodge pickup? When did its owner finally walk away without a final glance? What did it haul? Where did it go? What human activities took place in its 6.5-footContinue reading “No. 151: Stodgy Dodge”

No. 150: Intentionally International Tough

International trucks. The words conjure images of large, no-nonsense machines operated by large, no-nonsense guys – the sort of hauler you’d see at the dump, the warehouse, the docks. And those images were accurate: The International was … …well, built to work. It was what the plumber drove; his might have a utility body thatContinue reading “No. 150: Intentionally International Tough”

No. 149: Bonded, Not Bondo’d

They just never stop working. A truck built nearly seven decades ago may have started life carrying produce to the market, cinder blocks to the job, hay to the cattle. But time slows even the best machines. And so this 1951 Chevy 3100 Thriftmaster has taken on an easier life: as a billboard to aContinue reading “No. 149: Bonded, Not Bondo’d”

No. 148: Ho-Ho Hauler

A few years ago I volunteered my truck to pick up discarded Christmas trees and take them to a chipper. It was a Cub Scout fund-raiser. I was the Cubmaster. I had to lead by example. And so, on a chilled Saturday morning just after New Year’s Day, I jumped in my truck’s cold cab.Continue reading “No. 148: Ho-Ho Hauler”

Agrarian Edition No. 11: A Tough MF

The evidence is right there – there, where the soil is slowly swallowing a flat tire. This machine hasn’t moved in a long time. But when it did, this Massey Ferguson 175 was a workhorse – short on glamor, long on guts. MF rolled out the 175 in 1964; for 11 years, it was theContinue reading “Agrarian Edition No. 11: A Tough MF”

No. 147: Hauler Of All

Someone got it this far. Then, nature did what it always does: Its green tendrils reached out. With leaf and limb, it drew the machine close. Peeking from all this foliage is a first-edition Dodge D100 pickup. The D100 marked a styling departure from the mid-‘50s Job Rated machines – wider, not as tall, aContinue reading “No. 147: Hauler Of All”

No. 146: Abandoned at the River

The river runs west, then north for a ways, past Stockton. It flows across land flat as a pool table, with mountains in the distance. On clear days, those peaks appear a lot closer than they are. Natives know this. What else they know: The land is filled with old heaps. Did the Okies discardContinue reading “No. 146: Abandoned at the River”