Chicken Dinner News
Kentucky deep fried

By Sandi Soendker
managing editor


Covering the member news and happenings in trucking is much like reporting community news; it’s just that our community is bigger than most. Newspaper folks affectionately call “community news” the “chicken dinner news.”

There was only one way to serve up the “chicken dinner news” in the issue following MATS – Kentucky style.

It sure was fun talking issues and gabbing with old friends in Louisville in March. Some of these OOIDA members I have not seen in a while; others I have known for years and never seen face-to-face. Sometimes it’s just fun to see their kids and how much they’ve grown.

Dave Sweetman and I bumped into Dennis Mitchell, wife Barb and son Stephen. The Mitchells are from Blissfield, MI. Dennis has been a member of OOIDA since 1997.

It’s always good to see the Mitchells, but I was amazed to see their son Stephen. Sweetman and I both gasped the old “Oh my God you’re all grown up” line before we could think of anything cooler.

Steve is one neat young guy. He has his own design and fabrication business, and owns three trucks of his own. He’s an OOIDA member, too. He whipped out his business card and gave us each one. One of the most interesting comments from Steve was regarding his favorite new Land Line feature, “Journeys,” where OOIDA members share old stories of the road and trucking.

Steve really liked a recent one by OOIDA member Bob “Cowpoke” Martin. I was impressed. I mean, here’s a young guy who is really into the culture of trucks – including the history. He thinks it is VERY important that these stories be “archived” to be handed down to younger generations. And he for one really likes to hear it TOLD – not sterilized, but told in the words of the teller.

Thanks, Steve. Hope you enjoy this issue’s “Journeys.” It’s on Page 108 and was written by OOIDA Life Member William “Wild Bill” Rode of Eagle, ID.


Ron and Dianne Smith, Massillon, OH, are not your normal owner-operator team drivers. They’re truck drivers with what you might call humorous alter egos – that being a pair of good-hearted country jokesters known as “Snuffy and Granny.” Aside from being hardworking owner-operators, they dress up as hillbillies and entertain at truck shows and charitable events. They’ve been ambassadors for the World’s Largest Truck Convoy, have been involved with Trucker Buddy, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish and more. 

For the past few years, these two OOIDA members have been batting around the country in a 2000 Freightliner XL they bought used in 2002. It has more than a million miles on it.

In a drawing at MATS, fate grinned big on Granny. She won a jet black 2006 Kenworth W900, a giveaway from Great American Insurance.

But that’s not all. Because somebody gave them a truck, they decided they would give their free-and-clear truck to “somebody who could use it.”

That somebody, it turns out, is Herschell Wade Gordon, an OOIDA Life Member known as “Hershey Bar.” His wife Tonja is known as “Almond Joy.” The Gordons are longtime friends of the Smiths. Wade had been doing an IdleBuster gig when the APU company went under in 2008.

Hershey Bar and Almond Joy were at MATS and were shocked to hear of Snuffy and Granny’s plan. Granny says she and Snuffy announced it on Sunday, the day after the official closing of the truck show. She described the moment as “downright emotional.” I call it “pay it forward, trucking style.”


Trucker Buddy folks gathered in Louisville to honor the Trucker Buddies of the Month and talk some business. This year was different from the past few years. Fewer Trucker Buddies were on hand to be introduced and honored for their efforts. In fact, Paul Abelson, our senior tech editor, an OOIDA member and a guy with a longtime involvement with TBI, said there were only two Trucker Buddies of the Month who made it to MATS this year.

Paul says Trucker Buddy – like many other charitable organizations hard hit when the economy falters – is taking one on the chin. Many of the group’s traditional corporate sponsors are having difficulties and “cannot be as generous as in the past.”

Trucker Buddy has been around for 17 years. Those guys and gals play such a big part in informing kids about the important role of trucking. TBI estimates that Trucker Buddies have shared their knowledge and love for trucking with more than a million kids. In real terms, Paul says 55,000 kids a year, 2,755 classrooms in 2009.

Did you know that every U.S. state and most Canadian provinces has or did have Trucker Buddy classrooms?

But the group says that if Trucker Buddy is to survive, it needs help. It’s asking that truckers and supporters throughout the industry join Trucker Buddy as either an individual member or corporate sponsor.

Its founder, Gary King, was an OOIDA member and old pal of mine. I recall the struggles of the organization’s early years, and I saw the industry rally behind Gary and the Trucker Buddies and the classrooms of students who participated. I know Trucker Buddy can make it through these tough times.

For more info on what you can do, you can contact Doug Driscoll at 253-389-5142, or go to truckerbuddy.org or call 800-MY-BUDDY. Doug says if you just want to send a contribution, send it to P.O. Box 2114, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.


While at MATS, OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Rod Nofziger and OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce stopped by to see OOIDA Life Member Dan Toops who brought a large roll of white paper, roughly 3 feet tall and 40 feet long, and had anyone who stopped by sign it with a note to the troops. He then divided the paper into several sections, each of which he’s sending to the troops by a different route.

One of the sections was given to OOIDA’s Nikki Johnson to include in the Association’s care packages. Dan, who is from London, OH, says he hopes it will show our troops overseas just how much the trucking community supports them.

Of course, Rod and Mike signed the scrolls before heading off into the crowd. LL