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Out On The Mudline

Flapping Hood Makes Chevy Truck Fly

By W. P. Sissell

Our First Chevrolet

Sometime in 1928 my uncle Arthur Crocker and my Dad bid on graveling state highway 7 from the north city limits of Water Valley to the community of Springdale. The gravel for this contract was to be washed rock brought in on rail cars (boxcars) on a siding at the south edge of town. They got the bid. This called for each of them, Arthur Crocker and Reuel Sissell, to purchase a truck. They chose or got the best bargain from the Chevrolet dealer.  

When they got their trucks mother carried me across the railroad tracks to Main Street just south of the railroad station and let me ride in the new truck up and around the station on Cemetery Street (then) and back down the alley street to the back of our house. Although I had no knowledge of it the competition between Ford and Chevrolet was going strong as it still is –Ford and G.M. Our other car, at the time, was an aluminum bodied Model T (this one would go all the way to the top of Peter Brown Hill without backing part of the way). The price of a vehicle in those days was in the hundreds to the low thousands. My first car was less than three thousand plus trade in (a second hand almost new Ford from Jimmy Wilbourn).

The Contract

Dad and Uncle Arthur C. the carpenter, (I had two Uncle Arthur’s—the other, A. Walker, was a barber) had completed the building of three dump beds by the time the trucks came. Why three—one was mounted on the shoring in the door of the rail car. While Dad and Uncle Arthur were traveling to and from the dump site two men (with grain scoops) filled the bed in the door. By the time one of the haulers got back from the dump the men had the door bed ready for dumping. As you must realize, the filling of that door bed required a lot of work—in those days most people were accustomed to hard work—the hydraulics of today were not applied—although we knew about them.

The beds I have talked about above held exactly one cubic yard of gravel. The trucks were the forerunners of the monsters of today but were more kin to what we refer to as a pickup. After the gravel haul  Dad’s dump bed was set aside under a shed and used occasionally. I do remember him hauling gravel for the county on one occasion. The haul was out of the Will Austin Pit and the loading was done by a number of men with spades. I loved to go with him on these hauls for he always kept a sack of “goodies” in the cab. There was no radio, no heater, and no air conditioner. One friend of later years, who made his living hauling, solved the winter heater problem with a blanket over his knees and a coal oil lantern between his feet.

 Our truck served dutifully for about ten years. When my brother entered Northwest it made the trip to Senatobia to carry him back to school (every child did not have their own car in those days). When I got to make the trip I remember Dad often going maybe forty miles per hour when he came down the Tallahatchie River hill. The hood on those vehicles had four latches—two on either side—which Dad always kept unlatched in hot weather. At that forty mile per hour speed the side flaps on the hood would begin to flap. At this Dad would say, “Look we’re fixing to take off—hold on tight.” (David there’s a sketch just for you.)

As long as we had the dairy—until after I went into the service in 1944—Dad always made a trip to town daily for he had milk customers. Every morning after milking, fresh milk was bottled and delivered to Jitney Jungle across the street from the theatre. I remember an occasion, when I got to make the trip, that a man walked back to the cold box took a pint of our fresh milk and drank it without stopping. When he took the bottle down he said in a loud voice, “I’ve finished off a pint of old man Sissell’s milk.” I never liked that gentleman after that remark and I hope no one else knows who I’m talking about.

Yes, that trip to town was made on Sunday. For we, Ruth and I, were carried to Sunday school and church where we were under the watchful eye of Uncle Ray. I have a friend who lives in another state now who always said that you could set your watch by Mr. Reuel’s passing on the way to town—but we never timed it Pat.

Now they tell us that General Motors is very possibly a thing of the past—there’s still somewhat of a maybe—I never thought that International Harvester would go down either. That reminds me to say happy birthday to Bill Trusty, a long time good friend.

I just talked to a former student at NWCC who said that they would get through planting beans today hopefully. Their farmlands are in the delta along the Yocona River and twin ditches area that have been flooded until just a few weeks ago. Maybe the rainy season is over.  Our wish for you is a great week. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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