“Breaker 19, you got your ears on?”
You many remember that a few months ago, I wrote an article about how much we appreciate truck drivers at Orion Global. During this crazy time of COVID-19 and the pandemic that has changed our entire world, truck drivers are once again showing how they keep the commerce of the United States moving. Literally.
In that post, I mentioned a lot of the truck drivers that were friends of my family. There was Big Arkie, Peter Don, Pushover, Angry Man, just to name a few. When I was a kid my parents had a “crew”. Some of them weren’t truck drivers, but they were still a part of the gang. There were Wayne and Shirley, Fred, Tim, Goat, Steve, and others. These people were tight. They would literally have done anything for each other. I saw it happen more than once.
Growing Up with the Crew
Peter Don once traded houses with us, because he had more property and my Dad wanted a place to keep his dump truck. So…we just literally traded houses. There were card games at our house or over at Angry Man’s. There were cookouts at Wayne and Shirley’s. We had Sundays on the lake where I marveled at Peter Don’s jet boat with a 454 cubic inch motor and foot-shaped gas petal.
I remember a particular January night when the gang had gone out and my older cousin stayed with my brother and me. When I woke up the next morning, the entire crew was crashed in the living room and there was 2 feet of snow on the ground.
These cats were so cool they had their own special wave when they passed each other.
Remembering Uncle Don
As you might recall, I talked about how my Dad, called Big Arkie, and some of the others were no longer with us. Since then, a few more have passed on. Yesterday, I decided to try and see if I could locate Peter Don. I found out that he apparently passed away in 2013. For some reason, this crushed me to the core.
You see, it’s his truck that’s featured in my first post. It’s his truck I painted a Peterbilt model to resemble. Peter Don wasn’t married and didn’t have kids of his own. We called him Uncle Don. In my eyes, next to my Dad, he was the coolest of the bunch. Peter Don drove a green short bed Chevy 4×4. He had a 1959 AND a 1961 Corvette in his barn. (He offered to sell me the 61 Vette, my dream car by the way, for $10,000 when I was 18. It’s only worth $60,000 today).
He had a Colt Python .357 and he once took me out and let me shoot it. I have wanted one since that day. One summer, I saved up a bunch of money and wanted to buy a shotgun. With my parents’ permission, Peter Don took me to the pawnshop to buy it. I also spent 2 weeks on the road with him making deliveries to Walmart stores and riding shotgun in his conventional Kenworth. He did the exact same thing for my brother.
I admired him because he was good to me. My parents’ friends didn’t treat us like little children who were in the way. They treated us like family. But we also knew our place when the grown-ups were together.
Leave a Legacy
Even though I hadn’t seen Don in 30 years, when I heard he had passed, I was crushed. When I called my Mom to tell her, it hit us both that the majority of this once tight-knit “crew” has passed away. All of them were too young. There are only a few of them left, and they are all late 60’s or early 70’s.
So, it’s got me thinking. These memories I have are a legacy of this group. I have the word legacy tattooed on my right shoulder. It’s my reminder that I will leave a legacy. Whether it’s good or bad, I WILL leave a legacy. I might not ever become President and I won’t be able to take my daughter or my friends’ kids on a 2 week trip in a big rig, but I hope that someday someone will think of me with the same admiration I have for Peter Don and the rest of the “crew”.
What’s My Legacy?
What is my legacy going to be? What do I WANT it to be? I guess with it tattooed on my arm it’s time to figure that out. Loyal. Protective. Kind. Honest. Dorky. Considerate. Teacher. Are these words that will be used when people talk about me?
I want my daughter to remember me as the man who taught her how to navigate life’s decisions by talking about my failures. I want her to know that if something doesn’t work out, it isn’t failing. That even though I never had all the answers I wasn’t afraid to find them and to give it everything I got. I want her to remember that we loved to have fun and do cool things. Most importantly I want her to remember that I SHOWED her how much I loved and respected her.
I hope I’m remembered as a person that truly cared for the people I worked with and wanted to see them succeed in life. And I hope that it’s remembered that I gave people opportunities regardless of their education or background.
Hopefully, my nieces and nephews will remember me as the fun and goofy uncle who always took the time for them. I want people to remember me as fun, caring, goofy, protective, and that I took the time to just be with them.
I read a book a long time ago “Full Steam Ahead” and one of the primary characters wrote his own vision statement which became his eulogy. What did he want to be? How did he want to be remembered? I know that Big Arkie and Peter Don didn’t write down how they wanted to be remembered, but they sure as heck lived a life that left a lasting impression on me.
What I wouldn’t give to just one more time turn the CB to channel 19 and hear,
“Breaker, Breaker 19, Peter Don you got your ears on?”
And to hear,
“Hey Big Arkie, you got Peter Don, come back.”
Oh, and can I borrow the Delorean and go back to 1985 and buy that 1961 red corvette with the white interior for $10,000?