My first love: A ‘46 Chevy truck

Posted 3/4/18

The rain took the day off yesterday, making it feel like San Francisco weather. The sun was high and warm on my face.

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My first love: A ‘46 Chevy truck


The rain took the day off yesterday, making it feel like San Francisco weather. The sun was high and warm on my face. It felt like the perfect day to wash a winter’s worth of grime off my truck, so I pulled into the local car wash and before pulling out, I’d vacuumed enough red clay from the floorboard to make a flower pot. A few minutes later, I pulled onto the highway smiling. I love my truck.

I came by my love of trucks honestly because my dad loved them, too. He had an old ‘46 Chevy truck he parked in the backyard. At one time, it had been blue, but years of hard work and neglect had turned it into a shade of amber with blue undertones. The bed had rusted through to the axle, and my Uncle Pete helped dad build a bed for it made of dried oak that was as hard as teak.

We hauled coal in the old beast in winter, and during the summer we tossed our garbage on the back until we had enough to haul to the dump. I think the battery was original equipment, so each time we wanted to drive the old Chevy anywhere, we had to jump it off.

I was too young to drive in those days, but I spent hours alone in the cab of that truck. It smelled of old leather, tobacco, and burnt motor oil. The floorboard had rusted through on the driver’s side and dad spot-welded an old car tag over the hole. He was handy with an acetylene torch.

I knew every knob and lever on the dash. It was a four-on-the-floor. My dad called the first gear in the old beast “granny low” because you only used that gear when the truck was loaded.

I traveled thousands of miles in that truck without ever leaving the backyard.

When my legs grew long enough to reach the clutch and breaks, dad started to let me drive a little. He’d always sit close so that he could grab the wheel if I lost control, but I never did.

Driving the old truck was like a moving puzzle. I had to learn to let off the gas, mash the clutch, and change the gears while steering that baby between the RC Signs.

It was like a real-life video game, except one slip and there could have been hair, teeth, and eyeballs all over the asphalt. At least that’s how it played out in my young mind.

There’s an old Ford truck behind the barn now that belonged to Jilda’s dad Sharky. The truck hasn’t run in years. When I walked yesterday, I noticed a blue-tail lizard sunning on the rusty hood of that old truck.

When I stepped closer, it scurried down through the grill and into the engine compartment.

The door squawked when I opened it. Sliding into the driver’s seat, I sat for a few minutes remembering.

Had I been 12-years old, I would have taken this baby to Brazil.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on You can contact him via email at