Fruits of their labor

| September 01, 2006

James’ line includes Don and Jimmy. Don’s two children – Brad and Donnie – continue to drive. Jimmy’s trucking children included owner-operators Gary and Jimmy Jr., who is married to LauraLee. Nephew Lenny Bellou is also a trucker.

Jimmy, who co-owns the 75-plus trucking company B&J Trucking in Jeffersonville, Ind., represents a part of the fourth generation. He started working with his dad and uncles in 1961.

“I was 16,” Jimmy says. “We hauled produce out of Michigan and Florida. We bought and sold produce. We’d buy apples in Michigan and watermelons in Florida and haul them to small towns where we would sell them.

“The apples were thrown into the bed of the truck loose, and one of my jobs was to shovel apples from the bed of the truck into baskets.”

In his late teens, Jimmy began hauling produce for the Winn Dixie food store chain. He bought his first truck in 1970. It was a 1962 GMC for which he paid $2,500. In 1987, he – along with two partners – started B&J.

Early on, when the company was located in Borden, Ind., it was hit by a F4 tornado. But that didn’t stop Jimmy.

“I’ve never thought about giving it up,” says Jimmy, who occasionally still drives. “It’s not that bad of a living.”

Jimmy’s uncle, Sherman Fraley, was still in the buying, hauling and selling produce business until about five years ago. He started hauling coal in Beaver Dam, Ky., using a 10-wheeler during the winter and produce during the warmer months. Like other members of the family, he followed the growing season of whatever produce he was peddling.

“I was buying and selling watermelons to stores until about five years ago,” Sherman says. “Now, I still freight watermelons.”

Sherman says while he’s enjoyed his 56-year trucking career, an incident in 1964 almost caused him to quit. “I was on my way to Missouri to get watermelons. I came upon a seven-car wreck where three people burned to death,” he says. “You always think something like that can’t happen to you, but after seeing it, I almost turned around and came home.”

A huge increase in traffic and aggressive bad drivers top the list of changes the Fraleys say make trucking tougher today. But advances in equipment help balance things out.

“It’s a good industry to work in,” Jimmy says. “It’s changed a lot over the years, but it’s still the kind of living you can pass along to your kids.”

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