Old Truck

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It’s been there since we moved here twelve years ago, the old truck sitting in the field. Whenever I walked down the road and turned the corner, there is was, looking at me. I wondered how long it had been there. The first time I saw it, it had clearly rested in the same spot for many years. It sat low, sunk into the soil. Rust showed through the paint. Grass grew taller than its hood. It was an old truck with a story.

The farm where this truck resided had been worked in the past, but the farm sat untended now. The barn next to that old truck was sagging. Each spring the roof would rest closer to the ground. Swallows nested in the rafters. Windows had little glass remaining. The silo’s hat sat crooked, like a man too tired to right his shifted chapeau. The fields, while still rich with grass, no longer smelled sweet with spring cutting. The truck was a witness to the farm’s end.

But why was the truck there, in that spot? It was not parked next to the barn, or in it. It was not simply pulled off the road. It was well into the field, as if someone drove it there with a load of hay for cattle, and just never turned the key again. Or perhaps the truck was on its way out already, and when it would not start, was abandoned. Did a farmer die suddenly? Or did this farming family simply retire?

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It was not totally unused. Someone years ago found it made a good target. Bullet holes pierced the passenger door and window. Mice, I am sure, nested in the seats and dashboard. Kingbirds perched on the roof, scanning for grasshoppers. And it generated stories for passersby such as myself.

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A couple of days ago, whoever owns the place now decided it was time to move the truck. An oversized tow truck backed up and tried to haul it out. The tow truck got stuck. A second oversized tow truck pulled that one out. The old truck ended up closer to the road, out of the ground, but it is still there. The rear axle weighs down its bed. The rusted leaf springs were torn off and lie on the ground. It’s a wreck, but its new position meant I could get a better look at it than I ever had.

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The license plate registration sticker reads “APR 79,” so the thing has been there for 40 years. It had to have been registered some time before April of 1979 so perhaps the truck was abandoned at the end of the summer, maybe even October of 1978, if I can conjecture a bit. Several times I have wondered if the truck could be restored–cleaned up, tuned up, parts replaced, running again. Seeing it in detail now, that idea is dead.

I am sure this truck served its time well. From the day it was purchased at Shearer Chevrolet, it hauled people and tools and animals and supplies. This week, I suppose, it will get hauled away, scrapped, turned into steel cans or furniture frames or faucets. Some might say the field will look better without it–tidier, more natural. They might say that the old truck is junk. But I will miss its stories and, when I pass that way, I will wonder a little bit less.

3 thoughts on “Old Truck

  1. This is a great post. I love how you write. Even more interesting than the old trucks found in fields though are the ones one comes across way out in the woods. You know the ones I mean, all rust, barely recognizable as vehicles, more just hulks of red/brown metal. How did they get out there? Did there use to be roads that were more active than simple logging paths? Did people drive them out to leave them to die? Always seems like a mystery to me, and not really a pleasant one, as they mar the settings they are in, kind of like antique rural blight. Regardless, thanks for post, Allen

  2. I am so glad you were able to get up close and personal with the truck. Old vehicles in fields always bring back thoughts of times past. Perhaps you could call it clutter in the field, but I would call it a part of the field, like it was meant to be there to tell it’s story. Too bad it was unable to be restored, but now it will be recycled.

  3. Allen, I have found those old vehicles. Usually what I have discovered is the vehicle has been there long enough that the landscape around it has changed. What was once a field is now a stand of trees. So it appears it was abandoned in the woods when really it was abandoned in the open, the road just a rut and rust taking over. Landscapes, especially in the northeast, have stories to tell. An old rusted vehicle in the woods is just one more clue to what was once there, as much as birch trees surrounded by pines can tell how old those woods are, and apple trees shadowed by maples can tell of an orchard long past. Is it blight? Perhaps. But there is a quiet, slow beauty in witnessing the unseen transformation of steel to soil.

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