Pictured above, long ago, is Craig Ryan, whose 1965 International cabover you may well recall from the recent round-up from the Reader Rigs Gallery published at this link.
I was with a small (two-truck) company out of Wisconsin who leased both trucks on with Dart in 1977. I was very young at the time, and it was my first real break into trucking beyond driving for friends and a local beekeeper who I helped take bees to Florida and back from Wisconsin and Minnesota. I had a very positive experience at Dart and have always thought I should never have left. I was in a very old and worn truck, though, and I thought I saw greener pastures back with the beekeeper and elsewhere. I will always remember my time at Dart fondly. I went on and drove a lot of different trucks, then drove for Greyhound from 1980-’86. After that I got off the road and spent 26 years as an art teacher in Noblesville, Indiana. I am retiring from teaching this June and have plans to get back on the road for another career.
When I showed up at Dart in St. Paul I was put through orientation with paperwork, then given a load for Milwaukee. I worked hard and ended up getting as far east as Boston and as far west as Colorado Springs. I drove a load of Coors beer to Des Moines when I think it was in very short supply that far East. I felt like I was always treated well, and money was never an issue for me. I could take time for home whenever I ran through the Neenah, Menasha (Wis.) area, but I liked having a load going. My truck was a 1965 International CO4000. It had a 250 Cummins with a 5 speed main and three speed rears. I learned a lot about fixing trucks! No A/C, no power steering, roll-up windows, air wipers, lots of noise, not even a sleeper curtain. The speedometer didn’t work, but I don’t think I ever got going very fast. What I remember most is the other drivers I met who were so willing to help me. We ran together often, and if I ever had a problem one of them was always there. One even gave me a new pair of socks.
I’m sorry I don’t remember any names, and since I was pretty young I’m sure many of the drivers I knew are long gone. I remember we all had cabovers so we could be 55 feet legal, with many Petes, KWs, Macks and of course Internationals. Most of my loads were either dry van or reefer, and we went about everywhere in the Midwest. I took sugar up to the cherry orchards in Door County, Wisconsin, and hauled cherries back out. We also ran a lot of glass and supplies for the beer industry. Cheese, apple cider, cans, grocery items, frozen food — you name it, we hauled it.
I exchanged an email or two with Dart’s Kristin Oftedahl putting this piece together, and another of the Dart owner-operators who was there at that time, Larry Severson, she reports, remains with the company, at least, now in an office role after an injury. Read more about Severson’s history with the company, the story written after my visit with him in Minnesota in 2012, via this link. And enjoy Ryan’s photos below.