‘America respected and loved truckers a lot more back then’

Gregg Blair | July 04, 2014
  • jim stewart

    There is still a handful of us “old as dirt” drivers around. My first tractor was a GMC cracker box with a screaming 238 Detroit.. That was in 1969. The tractor was a 1964 model. I felt lucky to own such late model equipment I thought at that time… Now today everyone tells me how old my 1984 Western Star is! Funny ,, the Star feels as though almost new equipment to me. Why do I need anything later model with all the expensive electronics when I get decent fuel mileage & can work on my truck with a box of standard tools? Am I missing something? I guess it’s all about what you grew up with. I’m perfectly satisfied to operate what I have today. I believe it makes better money too or at least I get to hold on to more. Trucker attitude is so much different today on the road. I really miss the special tight community of professional truckers that we had at one time but of course sadly today that’s mostly over with. They’ve been replaced by road-rage impaired drivers of all size vehicles. No, there’s not a lot of independent moments nor joy of driving left while sitting long hours behind the wheel anymore. I think sometimes it’s really a damn shame that truckers of today will never experience what we had some thirty plus years ago..

  • Fageol

    Your comments were spot on. And it made me recall so many good old events. I started trucking full time in late 1965 or early 1966. In those days few trucks had single sticks (at least in or around the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up and began my work life). So maybe my comment might not register with many skinners. But in those days most of us carried a couple of chromed gear shift extensions, a couple of handles (drilled out and threaded 8-balls were highly favored as was a any type of beer tap handle), and an 8″ or 10″ Crescent wrench. Truck stops had big displays of the extensions and handles. When one driver left the truck he took his extensions and handles and just put the stock ones on the shift levers. Then the next guy jumped in and one of the first things that he did after bumping the tires, etc., was threading on his extensions (of various lengths and angles) so that the sticks were identifiable by feel (very handy in the closely spaced levers of cab overs) and were convenient for him. Thanks again for some good memories.

  • Greg Haymon

    I just lost a good friend that had been trucking since 1949 he had 65 years n trucking and the stories he could tell. Like driving big trucks with gas engines and no sleepers. I dont know how those tuff son of a guns did it back then trucks were primative back then no ac a fan on the dash and the windows down was ac no interstates we have it easy n our rigs. Any of u old hands know him, jimmy Burt ft payne al. Had 03 purple pete ran LA a lott pulling flats last few years.

  • martymarsh

    We didn’t really know we had it so bad, until we compare it to today, now I cringe just thinking about it. Didn’t know old Jimmy, and you didn’t lose anyone, they will all be there when you get there, God Bless.

  • Kendall Oakleaf

    Great stories

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  • Dean F. Corp

    I, too, started driving in ’95…I was 17.75…hauled to the meat-lockers in Pittsburgh; after driving school bus in the a.m., I’d go back and hop into the truck, deliver the beef (or whatnot) in 4-6 hours and get back in time to drive the kids home (I was a kid calling kids ‘kids’, hehe!!!) I do know, FOR CERTAIN, if it wasn’t for you graybeards, I never would have been able to complete that first trip, for the knocking together of my knees while trying to dock…hahaha…I miss some of those guys as much as I miss my own Daddy….

  • RichieC

    You would never see me peeing between my tandems……I pee between YOUR tandems…so mine dont smell….anyways…you need the adjustment. Whats worse…a scumbag…or a little pee ?

  • RichieC

    HMMMMMM Murdock……I learned on a two box hanging on a cummins 250…to make a spicer 5 into an 8 speed. Later I learned the rice burner and ten speed…10 gears in 10 seconds…with your left foot through a strap on the floor…and a rod for smacking the hand if you scratched the gears.

  • BX

    I’ve noticed that as the trucks got bigger so did the drivers.

  • BX

    My 1st tractor was also a ’68 Krackerbox
    12 speed transmission with a separate lever for forward & reverse. It could go just as fast backward as it could forward. (I tried it)

  • Cam

    Anyone who took keen interest in this great article summarizing trucking in the mid-’70s forward is encouraged to join the American Truck Historical Society at aths.org! I used to have a long wheelbase KT-powered Freightliner Powerliner that started out life as an O/O for IT’s Western Division. Like all trucks ’75-’78, it started out life with a 121 system…

  • James P. Lamb

    I remember in the 70s as a kid thinking truckers were cool… watching BJ & the Bear (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._J._and_the_Bear) and listening to “Truckin'” by Greatful Dead… We encourage truckers to join the new Small Business in Transportation Coalition as we work to improve truckers’ image for the next generation: http://www.smalltransportation.org.

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  • Kidd

    I would like to say THANK YOU to all of the TRUCKER’S who came before me. I have been driving since ’96 and I too am very disgusted with the way the trucking industry has become extremely cutthroat and predatory. I am very saddened and appalled by the way these steering wheel holding, key turning, mutants are running rampant. And that are nothing more than poorly trained circus chimps that have destroyed the reputation and good name for those of us who are Truckers..! Instead of us being respected and revered for our contribution’s to the country and the economy as a whole. We have been made into bad punchlines for terrible jokes! And again I say THANK YOU TRUCKER’S…!

  • Kali Smith

    Gregg Blair! This is the first time in a long time that I’ve seen you. I happened to stumble upon this article after hearing about your retirement. I Googled your name to see if you were still in San Diego or Texas…and this came up. Thank you Gregg. You have been instrumental in my trucking career for the past 12 years. I won’t go into all the details here, but for anyone that reads this, know that Gregg Blair is one of the finest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with and know. Many of us wouldn’t be where we are today without him. His innovative approach to trucking has inspired many drivers, sleeper manufacturers, and parts suppliers to push the envelope for the advancement of our industry. All the best to you in your retirement.

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