Terri Kaiser

At one time, my dad had this big, blue pickup, and of course, I don't know what the make and model was. I was a teenager and could have cared less. As long as I got to borrow it on Friday and Saturday nights, my life was good.

My friends were impressed that I had this big truck as mine for a few hours. We, my friends and I, referred to it as the “Mack Truck.” It set up quite high and I felt ever so important being able to drive it. We'd all pile in and head out to where everyone was gathering. There were lots of good times shared within the two doors of that truck. That was back in the day when seat belts and limits on how many bodies could cram inside a vehicle weren't monitored by law enforcement. It's a good thing laws are stricter today.

Being that my dad was a logger, pickups were always a part of our lives. His were work vehicles and very important to his being able to put food on the table. But as kids we loved riding with him out to the woods, especially if we could ride in the back. Once we arrived at the logging job, it was time to get inside. Dad would grin and say, “hold on,” then gun the motor and over the bumpy road we'd go. All of us girls giggling and trying to hold on as the road pitched us forward and back, side to side. It was better than any carnival ride.

My grandpa would show up at our house from time to time asking if we wanted to go for a ride. He would take us out to see his old logging jobs and he had so many stories of the old days on the Roddis Line or out at the Finn Camp, places he lived as a boy and a young man. And always, a ride with Grandpa meant a stop at A&W before heading home. His pickups were always a fright — dents everywhere. Grandpa's focus was on the journey, not so much of what got in his way.

When I was just barely learning to drive, Grandpa let me take his pickup out into the harvested hay field to toodle around a bit. Now, you wouldn't think I could get into too much trouble out in an empty field, but yup, I did. I got going too fast and misjudged the distance between the vehicle and the barn. Now, I didn't hit it, but came awfully close. Grandpa and Dad could see from the edge of the field that the trajectory of the truck and the speed at which I was traveling were not compatible to a safe stop. They were yelling and waving their arms, which made me nervous, and I forgot how to shift. That was the last of my driving Grandpa's pickup. To this day, I don't know how that truck came to a stop. I'm just glad it did.

But the best thing about pickups back then was riding in the back. We girls would pile in over the tailgate to go visit the grandparents or go for a picnic. Mom kept an eagle-eye on us through the back window and if we got too close to the tailgate or rose up from our seats, we'd have Dad to deal with. We'd head down the highway, the wind whipping our long hair so we all looked like a load of hairy trolls. Once at our destination, we didn't look much better and it took forever to get the snarls out.

One of my favorite times in the back of the pickup was one summer evening as a teenager. My best friend, Julie, and I rode back to town from a dance at Sugarbush in the back of Dad's pickup. Together we lay on the floor of the pickup and watched the dance of the northern lights as we made the journey back to town. It was magical. So much so, I never forgot it.

My husband has always had an old beater pickup for hunting and hauling boughs or firewood. To this day, I love riding in a pickup. While I think it's too bad our kids didn't know the adventure of traveling in the back of a pickup, I fully appreciate the laws now prohibiting it. Honestly, it's amazing we never got hurt, but we didn't, and have great memories because of it.

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