By Mary Deaton

Mary Deaton is seen here lounging on the truck in 1981 while family dogs run around.  Photo courtesy Mary Deaton

Today I sold my truck. It is a 1962 half-ton, short-bed, step-side Chevrolet pickup. I’ve never really thought of it as my truck. It was my grandfather’s truck, my daddy’s truck, my mother’s truck, but I owned it for 18 years so, in its 57-year history, I’m its longest owner.

My grandfather bought it in May 1962 from Andean Motor Company in Cumming for $2,157. He died 10 months after he bought it and several years later after my grandmother died and her estate was settled, it became my father’s truck and our family truck.

My father worked at the General Motors factory in Doraville and we had a 65-acre beef farm a few miles east of Buford. The truck was used on the farm and was occasionally driven on the road to go to the farm stores in Lawrenceville or Gainesville, to take cattle to the auction in Cumming, and to haul hay from a field my aunt owned about a mile from our house.

When I was a child and teenager, every Saturday was about doing some sort of farm work and the truck was the workhorse for everything: hauling hay to feed the cows, hauling fertilizer, hauling tools and supplies to repair a fence, or driving to get someone who was bush hogging to tell them it was lunchtime.  It has been a part of my life longer than any other material thing in my life. I was five years old when my grandfather bought it and I can’t think of a time when it wasn’t around.

The truck did venture out on trips on the interstate occasionally. Just before Christmas in 1971 or 1972 my father called my brother from work with a mysterious mission. He wanted Jimmy to drive to Doraville and pick him up after work and someone else was going to drive his car home. The big mystery was that there had been a raffle at the UAW union hall. The grand prize was a color TV and my father was the winner. It was our first color TV and in 1971 a color TV was a huge big deal.  A few years later we bought a ping-pong table and drove the truck to the Sears warehouse in Tucker to pick it up.

The truck had a wood frame that fit on the bed to form an enclosure for hauling livestock.  When we were children, my brother and I would stand at each front corner of the bed on the bottom slat of the frame so the top slat was about at our chests as my father drove in the pasture.  For a seven-year-old standing on this wood frame on the back of the truck, riding and bumping across the pasture was like Leonardo DiCaprio riding on the bow of the Titanic: “I’m the king of the world!”

When I was about 15 my father taught me to drive it. It’s the only straight-shift vehicle I’ve ever driven.  It still had the pencil marks on the steering wheel where he made an H-looking symbol and labeled the gear positions.

My father used to cultivate hay on some land my aunt owned at the end of a dirt road about a mile from our house. After I learned to drive the truck I would drive there and hang out while he was working.  In the world before cell phones, I was there to drive and get help in case he had an emergency.

Now with the world so different than it was 40-50 years ago, it is hard to believe I ever lived in a world where every Saturday was about doing some sort of farm work; a world that was so dependent on the weather, hoping it would be rainy so the hay and garden would grow, and when it was time to harvest the hay hoping we got the bales in the barn before the thunderstorm came; a world where my family raised a large portion of what we ate; a world where my father planted our garden with a mule he borrowed from a neighbor, and the garden was almost as big as the lot where my current house is located. That truck has always been a reminder of that former life.  As I’ve met people since and told them I grew up on a farm near Buford, they can’t believe there were ever farms in Gwinnett County, but the truck was proof there were and it was my connection to a past life.

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