Memories: An Overdrive model, splurging on ice cream and a forgotten profile of founding firebrand Mike Parkhurst

user-gravatar
Updated Jun 30, 2021
parkhurst-in-esquire-2020-01-23-15-03

Anyone familiar with Overdrive’s early years under founder and editor Mike Parkhurst knows that photographs of models were a staple of the magazine.

Models were often used on Overdrive covers, such as this May 1974 issue.Models were often used on Overdrive covers, such as this May 1974 issue.

One particular unidentified model played a role in a funny recollection of the magazine in the mid-1970s shared by Bryan Baker of Lodi, Ohio. Baker hasn’t driven trucks, but he met Parkhurst through his late grandfather, small-fleet owner Carroll Guindon, who became friends with Parkhurst during the 1950s. Parkhurst launched Overdrive in 1961 and died in 2014.

“My grandfather taught him how to drive a semi,” Baker said. “I’m sure he’s been here a couple of times,” he said of his grandparents’ former home.

Baker has a souvenir of Parkhurst’s work under Guindon. It’s a note Parkhurst wrote on the opening page of an in-depth Esquire magazine profile of Parkhurst: “To C.J. ‘Red’ and Florence Guindon, my first trucking boss, (and still on speaking terms!) who can appreciate what went into this article!”

The article, “The Trucker Militant,” appeared in the August 1977 Esquire issue. It was written by the late Harry Crews, a notable novelist, short story writer and essayist.

Overdrive founder Mike Parkhurst autographed this Esquire profile on him for Carroll Guindon, noting Guindon was “my first trucking boss (and still on speaking terms!).” The story by Harry Crews details Parkhurst’s crusades against the Teamsters, railroads, truck makers, fleets and regulation under the Interstate Commerce Commission — fights contentious enough to draw personal threats. Crews writes of his visit to Parkhurst’s office: “When I raised my eyes, Parkhurst was unholstering a long-barreled thirty-eight revolver, one of the truly mean-looking handguns of the world.”Overdrive founder Mike Parkhurst autographed this Esquire profile on him for Carroll Guindon, noting Guindon was “my first trucking boss (and still on speaking terms!).” The story by Harry Crews details Parkhurst’s crusades against the Teamsters, railroads, truck makers, fleets and regulation under the Interstate Commerce Commission — fights contentious enough to draw personal threats. Crews writes of his visit to Parkhurst’s office: “When I raised my eyes, Parkhurst was unholstering a long-barreled thirty-eight revolver, one of the truly mean-looking handguns of the world.”

“I remember the first time I and my sister got to see Mike was at some type of banquet,” Baker says. “Mike had one of Overdrive’s models with him.”

Parkhurst, who lived in the Los Angeles area and produced two trucking-related feature movies, made lavish use of models in the magazine during the 1960s and 1970s. Many were photographed in or outside of a truck, occasionally in suggestive poses.

Baker says his sister, now Terri Baker-Helton, believes the banquet in Columbiana, Ohio, was tied to a premier of  “Smokey and the Bandit,” which was released May 27, 1977, shortly before the Esquire article was published. It wasn’t a Parkhurst production, but Overdrive was involved with it, notably helping stage a truck race with a banner bearing the magazine’s name visible in the opening moments of the film.

Baker recalls that the banquet was too late for him and Terri to attend at their ages (8 and 10 or 11, respectively). “We got to stay at the room that the model was using. She said that we could order anything we wanted to eat and it would be on her, just call room service,” he writes. “So later on that night me and my sister did just that and ordered 25 different flavors of ice cream sundaes each – 50 all together.”

Baker says the two of them at least sampled one of each flavor.

“Needless to say, my grandparents were not happy with us when they got back, and offered to pay half to her. Me and my sister still laugh and talk about it.”

Bryan Baker says his grandfather Carroll Guindon (here with his wife, Florence Guindon) taught Mike Parkhurst how to drive a truck.Bryan Baker says his grandfather Carroll Guindon (here with his wife, Florence Guindon) taught Mike Parkhurst how to drive a truck. Bryan Baker and his sister, Terri Baker-Helton, were kids when an Overdrive model’s generous offer led to a massive order of ice cream.Bryan Baker and his sister, Terri Baker-Helton, were kids when an Overdrive model’s generous offer led to a massive order of ice cream. In Overdrive’s coverage of the release of “Smokey and the Bandit,” it wrote: “In a re-creation of a truckers’ drag race sponsored by Overdrive, many tractors line up for the beginning of a laugh-filled film.”In Overdrive’s coverage of the release of “Smokey and the Bandit,” it wrote: “In a re-creation of a truckers’ drag race sponsored by Overdrive, many tractors line up for the beginning of a laugh-filled film.”
The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
Download
Partners in Business Issue Cover