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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jun 3, 2011

There were many things that were wonderful about growing up the 1950s and ’60s. One of them was the cars that were made at that time.

These were the spacious, finned, chromed occasionally three-colored automobiles that were designed, and then redesigned, so that you needed to trade every two years to stay up to date.

Every fall the automakers announced their new year’s offerings with special showings at the dealerships. Gas was cheap at around 30 cents a gallon or less if you found a gas war. It was a great time.

The cars of today are not the cars of 50-plus years ago.

wThe styling of today’s cars is just plain blah, but they are designed to be comfortable, quiet and get as much from a gallon of gasoline as possible.

The cars of today are reliable, but not exciting; adequate, but hardly inspiring.

However, things are not as bleak as one might think. Much of the attitude of the glory days of the auto can be found in today’s pickup trucks.

I hope this does not get out as the politicians in Washington DC will no doubt screw this up too and our pickups will be “dumbed down” just as our cars have been.

The first place to see how pride of ownership is heralded is in the advertising. Pickups are shown out working, getting the job done, with dirty, greasy, smiley owners in the background.

The parting shot is the shiny truck driving off in its bright paint and clean wheels ready for the next job maybe at work, maybe at play.

Anywhere you look you can see a cross section of pickups that are representative of the owners themselves. There are trucks that can be several years old that still shine like new or be dented and scratched.

On our farm we have the work truck and the go-to-town truck.

The work truck was bought when it had almost 200,000 miles on it and has since pulled the water tank while hauling herbicide during spraying and delivered fuel to tractors and the combine during spring and fall. It is used only when there is a job to be done.

Its diesel engine rattles noisily and if it sits still for a few days, a short snort of ether helps it start quickly.

Rust is eating away at the rear wheel wells and at spots on the front fenders.

But if we need to haul or fetch or throw something in the back, it is available and ready to go. Until then, it sits quietly in the shed, out of sight and out of mind.

Of course, the go-to-town pickup is parked in a place of honor in the garage. It is usually clean and with its 55,000 miles, still looks good.

It is the one that has traveled from Monument Valley, Ariz., to Glacier National Park, Mont., to Virginia Beach, Va., and many places in between such as Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas strip.

In the ’50s and ’60s, we were told to “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” We have done that in our truck although it is not a Chevy.

Both the farm truck and the go-to-town truck have air conditioning.

The difference is that the air conditioning on the farm truck does not work and fixing it is not a high priority as long as the power windows still go down.

So our pickup trucks are probably like everyone else’s pickup.

They are as reliable as the family dog and just as individual looking. We use them because they look like us.

Our pickup trucks are as American as we are and I hope it stays that way.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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