Speakout: The Voice of the American Trucker

Overdrive staff | December 01, 2009

Trucker’s kindness vivid decades later

In 1963, I was 14 and one of four boys running away from home in Toledo, Ohio, to become surfers in California, probably a dream for many boys since the Beach Boys were popular then. I was escaping a miserable home life.

One of us returned home, but the rest continued. We slept in cornfields, walked mile after mile, cold and hungry. Then one late night in Indiana, on a dark two-lane road, a flatbed driver gave us a ride.

The driver, in his late 20s or early 30s, introduced himself with a big smile, “Hi, I’m Keith Ketchum!” When he pulled into a truck stop, he asked if we were going to eat. We declined, not mentioning that we were broke. Keith said, “Well, boys, you can have a spaghetti dinner on me.”

Words can’t describe how good that big plate of spaghetti and meat sauce tasted!

Keith was headed in another direction, but he gave each of us $2. For three penniless boys, that was a fortune then.

My first job was at a Toledo truck stop, where I put in oil, pumped diesel and washed windshields. I washed rims and looked over the rigs for details that needed attention, as if each rig belonged to Keith. My next job included changing tires at a Florida truck stop. After serving in the Marine Corps, I became a skilled tradesman.

If Keith is still living, I’d want him to know that every time I’m at a stop light and a big rig pulls up, I think of his kindness toward three hungry and cold runaways. God bless you, Keith, wherever you are.

R. GREG MYERS, Waterville, Ohio


Speakout-texting“I see it all the time.”

— Trucker Baldomero Tapia tells the Dallas Morning News why a law is needed to prohibit texting while driving.




Do you use an electronic bypass system?

Mary-Carpenter-2Mary-Carpenter-speakMary-Carpenter-speakMary-Carpenter-speak“It’s easier, but whenever you pass through, you’re in their [law Mary-Carpenter-speakenforcement] system and they can track you.”

MARY CARPENTER, Childersburg, Ala. Floyd & Beasley Transfer

Eddie-Proctor-speak2“I use the bypass because then I don’t have to go on the scale.”

EDDIE PROCTOR, Decatur, Ala., Wiley Sanders

David-Boswell-spek-3“I prefer it because they just wave you on and you don’t have to stop and waste your time.”

DAVID BOSWELL, Aberdeen, Md. | U.S. Army driver

Joe-McLenden-speak4“We’ve got PrePass. It was already in the truck, so we didn’t have a choice.”

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