Saturday, August 15, 2009

Truck Driver

My dad drove a truck.For most of my growing up years until he retired Vernon Ruse drove for the Anderson Cartage Co. out of Stockton CA.He tried long haul before I was born and for a bit when I was a baby but most of his life was spent driving up and down the valley on the then main road highway 99.In the years my dad drove a truck you loaded and unloaded it pretty much yourself.No air shocks or plush seats.It was a hard,physical job.But not as hard as the job it helped him escape from,working in the fields or cannery's.Cutting grapes or chopping cotton.Driving a tractor or laying irrigation pipe.It was a way out,and up.A union job.when that really meant something.Medical,a retirement,decent wages,and a turkey every Christmas.My parents often told me about when the truckers union went on strike for 6 months when I was very small,maybe a year or so old.My mom and dad cut grapes to make ends meet.They told me they set me in a high chair in the shade at the end of the row while they worked.We bathed in the river and slept in the car.All this is probably child abuse today but then it was survival,and the norm for farm workers children.My father and mother made sure it was temporary for us.My dad worked long hours and many days,he did not get to see much of us kids growing up,that was normal for family's in those days to.He did not have hobbies,he worked.The places he would talk about read like a litany of small town California-Merced,Madera,Colinga,Oakdale,Patterson,Vacaville,Dinuba and Kerman.Small towns that needed goods delivered in the days before Wal Marts and Superstores.I remember him talking about delivering appliances for the new housing subdivisions going in around Sacramento and Stockton.Delivering to the Army Depot.And a winter night around 1967-68 he came home from work late at night with two toes crushed by a 50 gallon drum.The company he worked for got a special order to do a emergency delivery to Travis Air base of inbalming fluid.They were loading it on planes for Vietnam because they were running out there.A drum had rolled off the hand truck during unloading and rolled over dad's foot.He never got the feeling back in those toes.
It remains my most vivid memory of the Vietnam war.

3 comments:

Family Curator said...

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Tina. This is a great post. I love hearing California stories, I'm a native too.

Rebecca said...

Yes, welcome, Tina! I'm a California native too, but your 8 generations puts my 2 to shame. :)

Deez said...

You know I'm a Cali guy. I didn't know you had this blog. Great story. I frequently travel 99 myself. Matter of fact I was just in Merced last Friday...