Larry Banman: Old Green and I, style, class and ugly
Without a Doubt
It was about 15 years ago when the Kremmling Chamber of Commerce had an Ugly Turck contest as part of the annual Kremmling Days Celebration.
I had a truck that was old then and it was ugly then. I pondered entering the parade that year, but duties at the Kremmling Rotary Club concession booth held me captive. Besides, I thought there would always be “next year.”
Next year didn’t arrive until 2009. The theme of this year’s parade is “Keep on Truckin'” and there is an ugly truck contest and I’ve still got that truck.
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Built in 1967, my Chevrolet pickup is as original as the day it rolled off the assembly line. Save for a new windshield, this old girl shows every dent, every scratch, every rust pocket, every patch of fiberglass patch, every crack in the vinyl that has been earned over 42 years of working, playing and just plain driving. Shoot, you can practically hear Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the USA” every time you tool down the highway. She is so old, they don’t even sell the fuel that makes her run. I have to buy an additive just to keep today’s watered down fuel from burning up Old Green’s valves.
I call her Old Green because, well, she’s old and she’s green (at least that’s the color that peeks out at you from behind the patches, the rust and the black oxidized paint).
Today, I heard a rumor about the Ugly Truck contest. I heard that people can enter trucks THAT DON’T EVEN RUN. At first, I was incredulous. I don’t mind losing to an old Chevy Luv, but if I lose to some heap that somebody drags out of a gully somewhere, well, that just wouldn’t be right.
I purchased my pickup in 1990 from a family in town. One easy monthly payment and she was mine. It was love at first drive. Four gears of pure driving pleasure. The lowest gear is known as compound low, a phrase you rarely hear anymore. She starts instantly and has never failed me. The only time I broke down, I was actually able to fix her with duct tape and drive back home from Denver.
Old Green had 115,000 miles on the odometer when I purchased her.
Today, that same odometer reads 239,000 and I am bound and determined to pass a quarter of a million miles behind her steering wheel before she and I (or both) expire.
Pickup trucks built in the ’60s were built when trucks were utilitarian in nature. They were built to do work. The extra low gear is to be used for driving out of the field with a load of wheat or out of the forest with a cord of firewood. There were no step-side beds, those just take valuable space for hauling cargo. There is an AM radio and a heater that is either off or on. Everything about an old truck says, “take me to work.” Old trucks are kind of like sled dogs that aren’t happy unless they are pulling a sled.
Today’s trucks are basically cars that have a bed for taking home the groceries. Sure, they have four-wheel drive, power-stroke engines, leather seats, surround sound and crew cabs. What they don’t have is character. When I load my labrador retriever in the front seat and head down the road at dusk, well, if you aren’t thinking Norman Rockwell you aren’t holding your mouth right.
I don’t know if we can win the Ugly Truck contest, but we are putting my money where Old Green’s metal is. Look for us in the parade. We’ll be in the truck with style. And, WE WON’T BE ON THE END OF A TOW ROPE.
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