Features
Land Line History
A sounding board for frustrated truckers

As OOIDA continues to push for the passage of its fuel surcharge legislation (HR 4441), Land Line continues to convey a message that, since 1979, remains virtually unchanged. Simply stated, truckers are caught in an area where the laws of supply and demand - where the laws of a free economy - no longer have any effect. The magazine continues to be a sounding board for the owner-operator.In 1979, the cost of fuel (like today) was a serious problem. And independent truckers were weary of being left holding the bag.OOIDA President Jim Johnston, in the May/June 1979 issue of Land Line, gave a prime example. He pulled no punches when discussing the high cost of fuel."We often hear how lucky the American people are, because, after all, in some countries they must pay $2 per gallon and more for their fuel," he said. "I say just because the people in those countries are dumb enough to stand for this type of extortion does not mean we should."Other articles at the time were highly critical of the manner in which the fuel crisis was being handled. "That's right, friends and neighbors," an old story stated. "After all the hard work and untold thousands of dollars that were spent and lost in order to get the owner-operators some financial relief, it seems that the oil companies and their multimillion dollar lobby are always one step ahead of us."Since its inception in 1975, some of the magazine's most poignant content has come from outside sources. Land Line began to regularly publish letters to the editor under the heading "To OOIDA ... from our members." In 1979, the letters ranged from outrage with OPEC to support for the association. Many of the letters could have just as easily been written today."I want to congratulate all of you for the progress we've made in our short existence," wrote Jordan Davis in the summer of 1979. "In the not too distant future, I hope to close the gap between me and my bills ... A continuing spiral in operating cost is going to force many of us to fold. You are focusing on the main culprit, 'the high cost of fuel.' Good luck to all.""The impact of exorbitantly high diesel prices upon the independent businessmen/truckers of America is particularly hard," said John Skelton in an early-but-timeless letter. "They do not have the tax advantages of a corporation with a profit losing affiliate. They either go out of business or, as in the case of the survivors, raise prices to the consumers, further adding fuel to the fire of inflation that is undermining the economic and moral strength of this country.""We receive your magazine - Land Line - and enjoy it very much," wrote Mrs. M. Cotelo. "You not only tell what's going on in the trucking business but you get to the heart of the problem. We're with you all the way. Great work!"And some letters, like one that appeared in the March/April 1979 issue of Land Line accurately voiced the need for truckers to stick together."Clearly, if owner-operators are to survive, we must take matters into our own hands," wrote OOIDA member John Ainlay. "We cannot wait for 'things' to mysteriously correct themselves. We must organize ourselves and be prepared to act as a unified whole, rather than as isolated individuals. Our strength lies in our numbers."

Occasionally, the voice of the exasperated trucker spilled over into advertising content as well. In 1979, the magazine regularly ran an ad that most magazines at the time wouldn't have dared to print. It sold a T-shirt depicting a giant hand protruding from an oil barrel, middle finger extended. The caption read, "A salute to the oil companies."

Aug/Sept Digital Edition