‘Mother J’ Gets Her Day

LaVonne “Mother J” Jones of Paxton, Ill., has spoken with hundreds of truckers via CB since she first started dabbling on the radio in the 1970s, occasionally helping them by making phone calls when they needed assistance, reports The Pantagraph of Bloomington-Normal, Ill.

Few truckers ever stopped to see her, but one group made a special trip this year to build a porch and wheelchair ramp for the 77-year-old woman. Mother J treasures her many trucker conversations over 27 years, as well as other communications. “One Yellow (truck) driver, WD – Witch Doctor – would sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ every year,” she told the newspaper.

Lots of truckers think about putting their thoughts from the road into writing. Matt Wade, with 15 years of driving over the road, did so – in poetry – and found a strong reception. The Indianapolis Star reports that Wade, 38, now driving part-time, has been published in three literary magazines and received $1,000 from the Indiana Arts Commission in 2002 to publish the Interstate Traveler’s Guide. Containing his poetry about lot lizards and other aspects of trucking, as well as photographs, it was printed in the form of a folding map and distributed at Indiana rest stops, the newspaper said.

“He’s taking his act on the road, and delivering it in an 18-wheeler,” said nationally known poet Jared Carter, who taught Wade in college. “Tom Paine, Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac would have approved.”

A few years from now, should you notice those orange-and-white barrels moving on their own like R2-D2 in Star Wars, don’t chalk it up to fatigue-induced hallucination. It could be that Shane Farritor’s remote-controlled robotic bollards have made it into the real world.

In addition to decreasing safety risks for construction zone workers, the robots would save labor in situations where barrels or cones have to be frequently moved as a construction project progresses. Or they could be programmed to move back and forth at the same time to fit a daily work or traffic pattern.

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Now if Farritor, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nebraska, could just put arms on them, maybe they could deliver truck stop meals to your cab.

“A meteor strike would have been further up my list.”
– John Jelte, a trucker and legal assistant, who told The Washington Times he was shocked to discover a cougar in his garage in Sandy, Utah. Wildlife officers tranquilized the cat and removed it.

“Fortunately for us, he was left with a nasty taste in his mouth.”
– John O’Hare, 73, commenting to the Scottish Daily Record about a thief choosing the incorrect tank for siphoning diesel while O’Hare’s camper van was parked overnight. O’Hare found a plastic hose, a fuel container, the contents of the septic tank and a puddle of vomit the next morning.

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