Memory Lanes

Lucinda Coulter | September 01, 2011
Bruce Wieser’s 1985 Freightliner was featured as Overdrive’s Tractor of the Month in June 1987.

“We sat down under a palm tree, and he did his story,” says 64-year-old Wieser, now retired and a Greenville, N.C., resident. “I told him that I wanted to do something really nice with the truck.”

Wieser had been an owner-operator for 15 years and already had driven more than 2 million accident-free miles when his rig, equipped with a 400 Big Cam IV Cummins, was Tractor of the Month. Overdrive said then: “To this Alta Loma, Calif., owner-operator, the American Indian symbolizes everything he believes in – struggle and freedom.”

GORDON ALKIRE: ‘Bitten by the trucking bug’

Owner-operator Gordon Alkire remembers the day he and his cousins raced an old Ford pickup near his uncle’s farm in Hays, Kan.

Gordon Alkire, leased to Landstar Ranger, paid $6,000 for his first truck, a 1968 Peterbilt cabover equipped with an NTC 335 Cummins. A Kansas native and resident, Alkire has been a trucker for more than 40 years.

“This was before I-70 was I-70,” Alkire recalls. “We took out the old Ford pickup to where the speedometer showed 100 miles per hour, and we were on a gravel road. We were in tall cotton until we got home.

“We stood up to eat supper that night – all of us,” he says. “Still, I was bitten by the trucking bug, I just didn’t know it then.”

Alkire’s first trucking job was with Scrap Haulers, based in Riverdale, Ill. His first truck, a 1968 Peterbilt cabover, had a compression release for cold winter starts, an RTO 9513 transmission and 4:11 ratio rears.

“I had a love affair with that truck,” he says. “When I sold the truck, it had 1,880,800 miles on it. I regret ever selling it.”

He also remembers when he could request early wakeups at truck stops from “the lady behind the counter.”

“Either she or someone from the truck stop knocked on my door and handed me a cup of coffee at the same time,” he says. “We were knights of the road and were treated like it.”

  • Nervous Wreck

    I drove for them for over 10 years. Knew everyone back then. We even kidnapped Shendals dog for a joke once. Grady was in charge of keeping everything clean. Played many a pool game in the drivers lounge. Was there when they had a wreck in Walton, NY when the brakes on a truck gave out. Remember the Hamburger brothers, Marty, Red, Gary Smith, etc? strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.