My husband, Chub, and R.J. "Joe" Martin were personal friends who worked together in the local Rural Electric office and felt the need to combine physical labor with fresh air and sunshine. One day in the 1950s Joe said, "Chub, do you have a few not-very-valuable acres on your farm?"
"Lots of them," Chub said.
So they set out hundreds of pine trees and started the first "Cut Your Own Christmas Tree" farm in this area. Joe, on the spur of the moment, also bought a "probably restorable," rusty Model T Ford at auction and then wondered where he could store it. Our son-in-law, Mike Russell, hauled Joe’s bargain to our car barn.
When Joe’s health failed seven years later, Dorothy Martin and her son, Charles, brought the Model T’s title to Joe’s longtime friend, W.F. "Chub" Gerard. Dorothy and I had graduated from journalism school together.
Now, with Joe and Chub both "translated to the higher life," we often recall their friendship on these summer days.
Mike Russell and a few helpers have "translated" the rusty 1923 Model T truck into a beautiful dairy truck like Dad’s. I call the truck "Joe."
A few years ago Mike and Nancy surprised me with a huge package: canvas snap-on curtains for the truck, with Dad’s message on each curtain: "O.D.MEYERS DAIRY, CLEAN MILK, Fresh From My Own Cows."
Dorothy and I recall the friendship of Joe and Chub at ice-cream-making time. My daughter, Nancy Russell, mixes her famous ice cream recipe, pours it into Mike’s huge antique freezer, and their Sam manages the 1923 truck as it turns the freezer. My grandson Sam Russell manipulates the truck’s speed as his dad adds ice and salt.
In 1917 Dad was ready to buy a Model T Ford truck, but Columbia’s dealer, Mr. Clinkscales, didn’t have a truck.
He created a Model T truck by selling Dad a passenger car chassis and getting a truck body from a fellow dealer in another state. That 1917 T was the beginning of our family’s love of Henry Ford’s "Tin Lizzie," which was said to have put America on wheels.
Joe Martin’s bargain is now a treasured keepsake in our family.
Dad’s dairy truck was followed by our family’s black two-seated, canvas-top touring car with isinglass windows in its side curtains that snapped in place for rainy and wintry days.
That brand-new $375 Model T became Mom’s car. Times change, but the love for Henry Ford’s simple contraption, nicknamed "Tin Lizzie," is never without boosters.
Today our family cherishes Joe’s l923 Model T dairy truck, almost completely restored by our son-in-law, Mike Russell, and a few helpers. It is protected from parades lest the stopping and starting would be punishment to the brakes, but it brightens many displays and makes wonderful ice cream.
"It’s easy to load on a trailer," says Sam, who sat by me as I drove it around our circle driveway two times. I let him take the wheel to put it away and lock the doors.
"There aren’t too many trucks like this around anymore," he said.
Everyone is thrilled when Sam and Brianne’s 10-month-old, Fionn Nan, holds the wheel and pretends to drive. Fionn will learn that this "Tin Lizzie" and homemade ice cream are a great combination!