Magnetic pin-ups
Truckers, other ‘Men of Magnet’ rise to hometown challenge

By Reed Black
staff writer

From time to time, you have to ask yourself: How far would I be willing to go to support a worthwhile cause?

How about take your clothes off and pose for a calendar picture with a certain part of your anatomy covered only by a clipboard?

Well, some of the menfolk in the tiny town of Magnet, NE, did it. And some of those men are truckers.

Magnet, population 85, is so small that you won't find it on most state maps. But it does exist - about 140 miles northwest of Omaha, NE.

And Magnet is a fitting name because the town draws people from surrounding towns like McLean, Osmond and Randolph.

The magnet - in Magnet - is the community center.

Shirley Dawson said the center's where people from the whole area gather to socialize.

"Every year on Memorial Day we have the memorial dinner. The firefighters have their breakfast and a barbecue - there's just a lot of things that go on," she said. "We're small, but we're mighty."

But Shirley said the old community center needs to be expanded or replaced, and that could cost $100,000. So, she and some friends came up with a fundraising idea to at least put a dent in the $100,000 needed.

The idea came from a movie about a group of women who posed for pictures in the buff to raise money for a worthy cause. But, in each picture, certain key parts of their anatomies were cleverly concealed by things like an apple, an umbrella or rosebuds.

"The idea came about when I saw the movie 'Calendar Girls' a few years ago," she said. "At that time, I thought that would sure be a good thing to be a fundraiser for Magnet - if the men would only go along with it, you know."

But, then real work started. Shirley, and others who were excited about the fundraiser, had to sell the idea to men in the community and convince them to take their clothes off for a good cause.

" 'No way!' was the first response we got," she said.

But the women, not to be deterred, enlisted the help of a younger man who had grown up in the area and asked him to try and see if some of the men his age would be interested.

"At first he didn't get a very good response, either," Shirley said.

Eventually, the women were able to get some of the older men to warm up to the idea and then the younger guys came around.

Fortunately, Shirley had a big family to recruit models from - and all of them are truckers with the family-owned Dawson Transport Service.

Her husband Dan, a Land Line reader who runs the company, ended up gracing the July page of the calendar along with one of his sons. Both are seemingly naked - except for their caps and cleverly placed props.

Dan and his oldest son, Tim - who is a member of OOIDA - are sitting on the front end of an '83 Bremen Mini-Mark that Dan owns. Each has a cleverly positioned golf bag.

Actually, even if the golf bags had fallen over, Dan and his son wore shorts just in case.

So did another Dawson son, Andy, when he posed, stepping out the door of his Kenworth W-900L in his sock-feet with only a briefcase for cover.

And still another son, Mark, who dispatches for Dawson Transport, posed in a holiday setting for the calendar.

"I was December, so I was in a house with a Christmas tree with a Santa hat on," he said. "I had a Noel sign . covering the essentials."

In all, Shirley said about 25 men were involved in the making of the calendar - not just her family but also other men from in and around Magnet.

The calendar is now in its second printing and so far, at $17.50 a copy, they've raised almost $10,000 for the community center. Other fundraisers have added another $40,000 or so to the building fund.

Shirley said the calendar has been so successful that some of the menfolk are now saying they need to do another calendar - only this time a calendar featuring the women of Magnet.

"Well now, we'll have to see about that," she said.