Chicken dinner news

By Sandi Soendker
managing editor


Covering member news and the happenings in trucking is much like reporting community news; it’s just that our community is bigger than most. Sometimes the real fabric of this news is not headline stuff, but simply the personal highlights of our lives. Newspaper folks affectionately refer to this as the “chicken dinner news.” Hearing and reading these stories always makes our big old coast-to-coast neighborhood seem more connected.

Hey, the lower 48 alone is more than 3 million square miles – not that big a neighborhood if you’re truckin’.


OOIDA member Brian Morgan, Massillon, OH, recently shared an interesting story with Land Line Now’s Reed Black. One of his prized possessions was a chunk of twisted steel from the World Trade Center. He recently told Reed that over the years, it has been displayed at schools and libraries.

But recently, Brian said, he found a permanent home for the artifact aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier that his daughter serves on, the USS George Washington. That’s the ship that provided air security for New York City immediately after the September 11 attacks.

Brian took the chunk of steel and a plaque he’d had made up and visited San Diego to present it to the ship’s captain.

Reed says the captain was planning to have the steel and the plaque displayed on the mess deck, reminding all 6,000 or so crew members of the George Washington’s role after September 11.


Tom Dixon is an OOIDA member from Blue Springs, MO, who works hard and plays harder. Aside from trucking, Tom is a pro mini-golfer and one of the best in the world.

He’s the captain of the U.S. team and frequently travels to Europe to compete in the world championship. In fact, he says he is more famous over there than he is here.

And he’s pretty darned famous over here. The Washington Post once described his mini-golf career as the “tame conclusion of a life of bodily injury.” It seems like an odd statement, but how many guys do you know who have broken their neck twice?

In 1976, his partner died in a crash, and it nearly killed Tom, too. The second time he broke his neck was when he rodeo’d. I recall he told me it was a run-in with a bucking horse.

Anyway, Tom hasn’t broken his neck lately, but he did phone us recently to say hi and that he is still trucking and mini-golfing.

In fact, he finished fifth in the pro and second in senior division in the U.S. Open this past summer. He’s now ranked 100th in the world.


OOIDA member Tom Grogan, Larsen, WI, recently came by the Grain Valley headquarters to visit. As he pulled his truck into the parking lot, plenty of interested people gathered around to admire his tractor.

The paint job is something to see. Land Line Staff Writer Dave Tanner met Tom as he was touring the building and said the truck looked familiar. Then it hit him. “I know why; it’s right here on my Dart calendar. I’ve been looking at it all month.”


Speaking of Dart people, OOIDA Life Member Harvey Zander of Saint Louis Park, MN, was the first – as usual – to arrive at the 19th annual Truck-n-Show in Waupun, WI, in August. Karen Zander reports that, as always, their grandkids and local friends had a blast at the show. This year, they were polishing on a 2009 International LoneStar plus their legendary “Icy Blu 2” truck. The Zanders have been field testing the new truck for Navistar. Harvey and Karen call it “Icy Blu New.” Like the Zanders’ show/work truck, it’s two-toned blue. At the last minute, it was decided to enter Icy Blu 2 as well. Karen says it was a “ton of work to clean up both trucks,” and she doesn’t think they’ll be doing that again anytime soon.

She says they came home with quite a few trophies, though. With Icy Blu 2, it was four firsts out of four classes. With the LoneStar, they entered two classes and won first for Interior and third for 2008-2009 Bobtails.

Here’s an amusing story about the Zanders. Hank Snyder, reporting for the Beaver Dam (WI) Daily Citizen, wrote about the truck’s appearance at Waupun for the local newspaper. He referred to it twice as a 2009 International LoanStar.


It’s been a year this month since trucking journalist Peter Rigney, widely known as the “Silver Fox,” died from respiratory complications at age 81. Pete began writing a monthly column for Land Line in May 2002 and never missed a deadline. Although he was hospitalized, his column for the November 2007 of Land Line was already “in” at the point he went to the hospital.

Pete was a storyteller and never ran out of tales about life on the road. He loved every corner of the USA, which he cruised in his old RV with his wife Shirley – “My Girl Shirl” – and their dogs. Shirley called me recently and sends regards to all of the Rigneys’ friends. She’s moved from Martinsville, VA, and now lives near Ocala, FL.