Old Trucks Make Good Commutes

| 6/26/2008 4:44:00 PM


Hank's International Harvester 1200 pickup.

I’ve always been a sucker for the lines of an old pickup truck. I don’t know whether it’s because I have been around them most of my life, or that I drove them, or that people who were important to me drove them. Now that I commute 20 miles to work each day in an old truck, I know that it isn’t just the lines that I love, it’s also the sound, feel, lack of intermittent windshield wipers, lack of air conditioning, and a bunch of other quirky things that encourage me to slow down and pay attention to the world around me, and think about things.

This particular truck is a 1964 International Harvester 1200 series machine with a big steering wheel and a tiny cab. It came my way last Christmas; a gift from my wife and daughters. Wow. I love the truck because of what it is and because it reminds me every day of how lucky I am to have a family filled with women who care about me. I drove a crew-cab version (with the turning radius of a loaded container ship) of this Binder for the county highway department summers during college. I like that it reminds me of the fun I had working with that cast of characters, and of whiling away warm summer lunch hours, in the shade, playing spades.

Plenty of folks complain that they dislike their daily commute; I don’t blame them. I, on the other hand look forward to the transition time at both ends of the workday. I am lucky that my trip is an easy one and that it passes through some lovely and ever-changing countryside. The commute helps me mark the seasonal progression and process memories associated with it. It helps me wind up to meet the day’s challenges and unwind when I have done all I can do. But, perhaps best of all, when wrapped in that noisy metallic cocoon of the old truck’s cab, the commute lets my thoughts lead me where they will.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

Scott Cross_2
4/26/2010 8:39:45 PM

Hey Hank. Better late than never on the picture. http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb274/ihcubcadet/IMG00494.jpg I finally got the truck licensed in PA with regular plates. I didn't want to be restricted by antique plate requirements. I drive it when I can, the picture is on route 40 in PA at the overlook east of Uniontown a week ago. We missed you and your camera at Plow Day this year.

Todd Markle
7/29/2008 11:39:52 AM

Hank, I really appreciate you attitude about your commute. I don't share it unfortunatly, but whenever something in my commute upsets me, I think about your attitude and it makes me feel a little better. As you know I also drive an older truck (79 chevy 3/4 ton 4wd) in the winter time. I do miss the creature comforts when driving it, but I like being able to work on it myself without any computer diagnostic equipment.

Hank Will_2
7/21/2008 9:10:30 AM

Hey Scott -- Great to hear from you. I know exactly what you mean about vent windows and west coast mirrors. My truck's mirrors vibrate in a very painful (to the ears) way when driving into the wind. Glad to know you got that F100 on the road. Do you have any recent photos of it?

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