During the Thanksgiving meal, somewhere between more than enough and too much, I got to talking to Dad about cousin Gilbert’s truck. Some years back, when Gilbert’s family threw him a significant birthday party, Dad wrote a poem about the machine, and presented it framed with a wooden truck. My cousin, Carroll, now has that in Texas, but there are still the stories here.
Before the war Dad boarded and attended high school in Johnson, because his hometown had none. While there he made friends and became so involved it is hard to recall who knew whom; by the time he was dating my mother, her relatives were his cohorts as well, so a lot of the family stories, no matter which family, have been told by Dad as if they were his own. Which they are.
Dad went in the army his senior year, although he graduated, but Gilbert had a bum knee and wasn’t accepted. Or rather he was accepted by the doctor in Morrisville (several times), and sent to the next in Rutland (several times), where the examining doctor would declare him unfit. One day the guy in Rutland said that he should tell the blasted [edited for clarity] doctor in Morrisville that he didn’t want to see Gilbert again. Instead, Gilbert decided to get a war job in Connecticut and make himself useful there. I am not sure exactly what he did, but it included literally polishing brass – the casings for underwater ammunition – which he thought kind of silly for something that was going to be corroded and exploded anyway.
Somewhere along he came back to Vermont – farmers were by then considered something like natural resources, so he was no longer going to be a ping pong ball between Morrisville and Rutland. He bought the truck, a 1937 Ford ton-and-a-half flatbed. There are good uses for a truck on the farm, at least at their farm, which, although it was next door, was a good deal more horizontal than Gram and Gramp’s. In addition, he figured he could make some extra by hiring out for small jobs.
Dad says at the time there was an agricultural registration for farm vehicles, although one was not supposed to use one so-registered to work out with. He can’t recall which way Gilbert registered his truck. However it was, Gil was hauling a load of logs to Moscow to be milled, when he saw ahead of him truck traffic being stopped and checked for violations. Overloaded? Mis-registered? Pressed for time? I don’t know, but to avoid being checked, he quickly turned onto a side road.
It wasn’t too long before one of the officers from the roadblock pulled him over and asked “Your logs?” “Yup.” (They weren’t.) “Where you going?” “Moscow.” “Taking the long way around, aincha?”
Gilbert gave him an innocent-young-farmer look, and a twinkle, and said, “Well, I could see you guys were busy, and I didn’t want to bother you any …” Dad said he doesn’t think they bothered to check his truck. Probably figured that by the time he got to Moscow the long way he’d be sorry anyway.
The other story I know about the truck is that Gilbert took a very large load of Christmas trees – another commercial venture – through North Hyde Park. Well, part way through North Hyde Park anyway. At a busy intersection (well, OK, as busy as North Hyde Park gets) the tall load hit low wires and ripped out all the power and phone for the village. Dad says he doesn’t think he got into trouble for that either, since the village was responsible for maintaining wires across the roadway at a safely high level.
I am sure there were other adventures I don’t know, and I know nothing of ghosts. But if trucks have them, this one may be wandering around Lamoille County. Be aware!