How one specialized hauler for some of the biggest names in popular music survived early COVID lockdowns

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Updated Apr 25, 2022

I've reached an age where I've had to reconcile myself to the notion that I probably won't be able to do every type of trucking I once dreamed of. Cattle hauler? Nah. Probably too late. The closest I ever got to that was hauling dairy bull calves in the back of our rusted-out Ford Ranger. Nothing really screams audacity of hope like a custom cattle rack on a subcompact pickup. Ol' Theldon and I stayed up until about three in the morning once in a fit of backyard inspiration making that rack.

More accurately, I held the flashlight and tried to stay out of his way while he was in all his carpenter glory. When the outfit was finally complete, we stood back and contemplated what we had wrought. There was a certain Sanford and Son chutzpah to it all.

Then I brought out my best imitation of voice actor Don LaFontaine, famous for his film trailer work: "Marhoefer Land and Cattle," I intoned. 

We were punch-drunk from being up too late and busted out laughing over the nothingness of it all. It morphed into a mantra, then: Marhoefer Land and Cattle.

Theldon's brother Tim, out of the blue, even made us a sign to commemorate the venture. I tried to pay him, but he would have none of it. Those were some of the best years of my life. The old rusted-out Ranger has long since been junked. My aspiring cattle baron days, for now, are done, and Theldon has passed away. 

Marhoefer land and cattle signThe sign, however, remains.

Another dream job was to one day be a hauler for Upstaging, the iconic show-transport company with their pressed-out red Petes. I would talk to them on the CB a lot back in the day. They might be heading west on I-80, just having left Broadway and heading for Chicago. Sometimes they'd tell you about all the different shows they had hauled, and which of the big stars were nice in real life and which ones weren't.

These days, their clients include everyone from the Rolling Stones to Taylor Swift and Sting. Upstaging continues to stand among the most highly respected fleets in the country. But these past two years, I couldn't help wondering how they even survived given what COVID did to the world of concert touring for quite a time.

Then I met a longtime Upstaging driver, now safety man, in Chip Warterfield. At the Mid-America Trucking Show last month, Warterfield was kind enough to tell me their survival story, featured in this week's edition of Overdrive Radio: 

[Related: Read Chip Warterfield's tribute to longtime hauler and mentor Kenny Jones]