A Talegate as old as Time 

By Troy Bishopp

It’s been said that a man and his truck is a beautiful thing. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson waxed poetic on this subject by saying, “I love driving the cool cars but there is nothing like driving a pickup truck”.  Forget Uber, repel the notion of driverless motion and certainly resist the temptation of substituting a car pulling a trailer as a replacement truck.

It’s almost a rite of passage (and in numerous country ballads) that country boys drive pickup trucks. The love for one’s pickup truck is as genuine and old as time.  It’s important to recognize the bond between a man (or woman) and his or her pickup as very special.  For me, the truck transition of moving from one memorable piece of iron to another is a difficult one.

The older I get, the harder the decision to choose a particular hunk of steel, rubber and vinyl. The internet has so many reviews, pop-up ads, deals and decision-making tools it makes my head spin.  Back in the day, my decision was mostly influenced by how much money was in my checkbook and who was close enough to fix it, not the brand my fellow farmers were bustin’ on me to buy.

My list of former motorized compadres includes a 1948 Ford one ton dually, a 1967, 3 speed on the column, step-side Chevy bought at a farm auction covered with 5 layers of brushed on blue paint, a 1990 Isuzu space cab so I could fit the car seats in, and a brand new 2001 Dodge Dakota that eventually transitioned my daughter off to college. If you notice, I usually keep my buds around for awhile as they become like family. All told, these pickups cost me nary $30,000 dollars to buy over a 30 year period which ranks high on the value and memory scale.

In 2009, I fell hard for a cherry red 2004 Ford F-150 5.3 liter, king cab, 4-wheel drive with 18 inch tires that my friend Linda Wightman meticulously maintained for 50,000 miles. She was selling this beauty to buy a new Ford.  As husbands sometimes do, I figured every way I could think of to justify having this slightly used behemoth.  I could haul and pull more, it was safer when town budgets ration road salt, we could put the whole family or a group of Amish farmers in it on a trip and perhaps the best reason; I looked darn fine in it. 

I got financing locked in and went about lobbying my wife, who also looked fine behind the wheel. “Well, if you’ve done your homework and it fits within our budget and it makes you happy, then let’s buy it”, she said.  Ah victory!!

The truck has lived up to its billing. We drove through snow storms and pastures like a champ, we hauled round bales, post pounders, tools, portable gate panels, kayaks and kids.  We sat on the tailgate eating lunch and sipping Fingerlakes wine, and we created memories.  Alas, when you enjoy a pickup truck as much as I do, you rack up the miles.  In our case we topped 186,000 miles.  By 2017, it was becoming evident the 36,000 dollar beauty in 2004 was racking up maintenance costs and limiting our travel plans.

To replace this truck it would be pushing 50K, a number that makes me queasy given my limited resources. So I went about trying to find a similar pickup with around 50,000 miles like before at an affordable price.  The power of the internet allows you to pick the parameters you are looking for and with a click of the mouse you have truck candidates; lots of them.  The process takes diligence, work and phone calls to secure viewings.  After looking at countless brands of trucks all over the Northeast, my choice coincidently landed at an independent dealer right next to where I work. 

In the driveway was a 2011 Silver Dodge 1500 Ram, 4 wheel drive quad cab with colossal 20 inch tires with 48,000 miles and neat as a pin. I literally cried because this was the mate to my brother’s silver truck, ( who tragically died two months ago at age 52.)  All I can say is; it was karma that this pickup found me from a gentleman in Massachusetts.  When I drive it now, my brother’s spirit rides along.

My old red truck found a new home locally with a retired Army Veteran. My new pickup was christened with cow pies and hay bales, fulfilling the break-in period.  The only thing left is to share stories of life on the tailgate with my grandchildren who may be driving by the time I get another truck.

Published by The Country Folks and Lee Newspapers