Old Truck


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?


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.


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.


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.

Old T-Shirts

This Shirt is Long Gone

This Shirt is Long Gone

How many T-shirts does one person need?  That is the question that has bounced around my little pea of a brain many times.  The thing is, I have a lot of them T-shirts, not brains).  Occasionally, I weed through them and get rid of a few.  I turn them into rags if they are in really bad shape.  I give them away if they are in really good shape.  I sold one on eBay–a 1986 Dartmouth College Winter Carnival shirt with a Where the Wild Things Are theme in egg yolk yellow–that I had been hauling around for years.  I got 14 bucks for it.

I have too many T-shirts right now.  The problem is, they aren’t just random T-shirts.  I got them from all kinds of moments in my life–running marathons, working at outdoor education centers, time with friends, you know what I’m talking about.  Each T-shirt has a story.  I have one red T-shirt from the Atlanta Olympic games, 1996.  I was working at the University of Vermont and the woman whose desk was next to mine was wearing it.  I really liked it so I said to her:  ” I really like that shirt.  Can I have it?”  She said she wouldn’t just give it to me but would trade it for the one I was wearing (aqua, with a person jumping for a trapeze in the woods).  We both took off our shirts right then (I definitely got the better deal there) and I had a new shirt.

It is hard to give up a shirt with a story like that.  What about the high school program I did as a junior?  I still have the shirt, a one of a kind long sleever, but it is mighty tattered.  I keep it, rarely wear it, and decide to keep it again each time I rummage through the pile.  I have shirts that are over 20 years old.  That just seems silly.  I managed to get by just fine twenty years ago without twenty year old shirts, so why do I hang onto these?  Good question.

Nostalgia, that’s why.  I don’t need them all.  I mean, I have a whole drawer full of T-shirts.  So again the question:  How many T-shirts does one person need?  I know there isn’t really an answer to that question; at least, there isn’t only one answer.  But I think I may be ready to pare at this point.  I need to come up with a number so I can make some hard decisions.  I want some to wear around.  They are good summer wear, after all.  They aren’t all 20 years old, so keeping the newer ones seems to make sense.  I also sleep in them sometimes.  And I want some to wearing painting or weeding the garden or even just going for a hike.

Five clean ones and five for messing about?  That sounds good.  But I may have some trouble ditching the memory garb.  Maybe I can try for ten and give myself a maximum of twenty.  That might work.  Maybe I would end up with fifteen.  Last night I wore a marathon shirt from 1998 to bed.  I love that shirt.  Maybe I’ll keep that one.  And get rid of the marathon shirt from 2002.  I have two of those.  And I might be able to sell that Olympic one on eBay, but I like that one.

I don’t miss the Where the Wild Things Are shirt.  I can’t imagine that, once they are gone, I will miss any of the others.  But crap, kids, this could take a while.