By Bill Hudgins
II turn 60 on July 3 (that’s 100 in kilomet-years for you Canadian readers). I don’t feel 60. Except for a few rusty ball joints, I feel pretty much like I did at 45. I’ve been told I don’t look 60 either, though most of my much younger women colleagues get that “Dad” expression when I remind them to check their tire pressure.
Turning 50 didn’t bother me a lick. It was freeing, in a way, because I suddenly realized I didn’t have a whole lot more time for taking guff. But 60 was something I didn’t look forward to. That just sounds old. That’s like, I’m becoming my dad. I’ve gotta decide what to do when I grow up!
Lately, though, I have taken heart in news reports that 60 is the new 40 (or 45). However, I wonder how much that is true for guys and gals who have been trucking for many years. There’s increasing evidence that the trucking road exacts an unusually high toll from those who follow it.
Stress, fatigue, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, exposure to pollution and odd chemicals, excessive vibration and noise, haphazard medical care, smoking – truckers as a group are not sharing in the trend toward “younger” aging. In fact, they may be going off to join Big Joe and Phantom 309 as much as 10 to 15 years too soon.
Wanna give me a birthday present? I hate saying goodbye to friends. So give up the coffin nails, start eating salad, get a thorough checkup, and try to improve your working conditions.
Thus endeth the sermon. Now let’s party!
Appropriately for a truck writer’s mile-marker birthday, I plan to celebrate it with a bunch of truckers at the World of Large Cars show in Carlinville, IL. Launched last year, the show promises shiny chrome, a bazillion lights, fireworks, cookouts, music and fun.
Gwillim’s World of Large Cars isn’t one of those elaborate shows with complex rules where only the most experienced truck presenters prevail and winners are decided by tenths-of-a-point. It’s not even a competition. It’s what a weekend gathering of truckers should be – a fun, relaxed event where friends can bring their trucks and their families and have a great time.
Oh, there will be bragging rights and some behind the trailer comments about how chipped-up someone’s fender paint is. But, hey, if your friends won’t gossip about you and your inattention to detail behind your back, who will?
The World of Large Cars, a family production, is an expression of pride in keeping the nation fed, clothed and warm. Mickey Gwillim (an OOIDA member) hails from Carlinville, and is part of a multigenerational trucking family. He builds show trucks and shows a sweet slammed-and-stretched lime-green 1986 Peterbilt 359 with a matching 2001 Great Dane spread axle.
The margarita-cool rig is a constant winner at shows and seems like a breath of fresh air in the summer out there on the steamy tarmac. I first met him and the rig at the Walcott Jamboree, which is also in July.
This year’s show is held in memory of two OOIDA members who died last November: Bette Garber, truck photographer extraordinaire, and Jake Eilen, a show truck owner whose black and orange rig often appeared in Bette’s lenses.
Mickey, along with Bob Guy and Kim Grimm (also an OOIDA member), has been involved in setting up the memorials. As Kim explains: “There will be no judging and trophies.”
Kim says Saturday’s events are a barbeque, a light show, parade and more.
Visitors can also donate to a fund to help abused, neglected and abandoned animals – a cause that was very important to Bette.
So if you want to celebrate the Fourth of July in truckin’ style, come to Carlinville.
Until next time, when I will be older though not wiser, be safe, make money and get home often. LL
Bill Hudgins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.