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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post My Father's Orange Truck
Created by John Eipper on 05/17/17 4:19 AM

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My Father's Orange Truck (Robert Whealey, USA, 05/17/17 4:19 am)

John E asked about my father's orange truck.

My parents were married in 1923, and my father, a Republican, worked for the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations as a patronage Postmaster in Baldwin, Long Island, NY, from 1923 until September 1935. It took Jim Farley, Roosevelt's Postmaster General, to fire my father.

So my father bought a 1935 Ford truck and hauled oranges, pecans, cantaloupes, watermelons, and trotting horses, following the seasons. Hauling oranges from Florida to Baldwin was the most profitable. He sold them by the crate, half-crate and quarter-crate to his friends in Baldwin.

From 1936 to 1941, every Christmas and every Easter, my mother, brother and I had about 10 or 11 trips to Florida.  My father bought wholesale melons from Laurel, Delaware in the summer. The orange business is good from Christmas to Easter.  It was a cheap vacation.

JE comments:  I found this image of a '35 Ford one-ton.  With an entire family in the cramped cab, it must have been a bonding experience!  How many days did the NYC-Florida trip take?  Around three?  I presume the destination was the orange country of Central Florida.  Orlando was an orange town before it embraced Mickey Mouse.

I have to keep peppering you with questions, Robert.  What did your father do when fuel rationing kicked in during WWII?



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  • More on My Father's Trucking Business, pre-WWII (Robert Whealey, USA 05/19/17 4:40 AM)
    The photograph John E posted on May 17th shows the 1935 truck as it was produced by the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Most of the truck drivers bought only a chassis, and they built a bigger body to suit the weight of their loads. My father had one truck from 1935, two 1937s, and his last truck was a 1939 model which he sold in 1942. So the trucks going to Florida were taller to hold the oranges.

    In the summer my father put on taller stilts and raised the body even higher for hauling horses. A driver could also extend the length of the trucks another three feet, with planks on the tailboard. With two canvases one could carry a load of light furniture.


    Most of the ton-and-a-half trucks were built in the Seaford Body Shop, Delaware, for the Ford and the Chevrolet trucks which were driving from Boston to Florida. These trucks were good only from New York to Chicago. The tractor-trailer business from Chicago to San Francisco was redesigned for the Rocky Mountains. The East Coast Ford-Chevrolet trucks had 70 hp.


    John also asked what my father did once gasoline rationing was enacted during WWIU. On New Year's day 1942, he sold his 1939 Ford truck to a potato farmer in Riverhead, Long Island, NY, the county seat of Suffolk County. The Office of Defense Transportation to ration gasoline was set up in the spring of 1942, so the trip to Florida and South Carolina was the last un-rationed trip possible. The orange season in October was closed for long-distance trucks. Freighters could carry more boxes of oranges from Jacksonville to NY Harbor, cheaper.



    In June 1941 my father took a racehorse to Chatham NY, near the Massachusetts border. I was his passenger and it was my first ride to upstate New York.


    JE comments:  Racehorses are a delicate cargo, and must have required special care in shipment (watering, periodic stops, and the like).  What are your memories of that process, Robert?


    I'm enjoying this series on Truckin' through the '30s.


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