Truckers work to preserve the history of their families – and their industry
Every once in a while, you see one out on the open road.
At first glance, they look like every other truck out there. But upon closer inspection, you realize you’re looking at a piece of history.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of truckers purchase, restore and drive antique trucks, keeping the trucking industry’s past alive for the next generation.
At first, you think those truckers and the events where they display their rigs are all about the trucks.
But when you talk to the people who own the trucks, a very different picture emerges. This is about families.
Ed Rocha is a good example. Rocha had several rigs at the annual antique truck show and national convention of the American Truck Historical Society, held earlier this year at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, KS. And those trucks are directly connected to his family’s history in the business.
Rocha says his family’s company is the oldest livestock hauler in the state of California – a tradition that started with his father and that continues in his family to the current day.
“Well, the company started in 1924 by my father,” he said. “I came aboard in 1952, and I have a son now who came in 1992, 1993, and he’s kind of running the show now.”
One of the rigs Rocha brought to the show is a cattle-hauling rig his father used in the 1940s.
Rocha has taken a hobby that started as a way to preserve family history and expanded it into one in which he helps preserve the history of his entire industry.
“I’m also the executive director of the Hays Truck Museum in Woodland, CA,” Rocha added. “We have over a hundred trucks in there of all years and makes.
“Trucking has been my life, it’s been good to me, and that’s why I want to support it.”
Rocha isn’t the only good example of the role family plays in the preservation of the trucks that were on display at the show.
George and Lois Wacker came to the show from their home in Manchester, MI, with a replica of the truck George’s father drove. And although it’s a replica, the vehicle is made entirely out of parts from other trucks of the same make, model and era.
“Took me 30 years to find the pieces,” he said. “My dad’s original truck was 29-115 for the tank number that was on the plate. And this one was -168. So, considering that he was in Michigan and I found this tank in Minnesota, it’s not too far off.”
Like Rocha, George Wacker followed his father into the trucking business. And his children have followed him into trucking as well.
“We had our, a year ago July we had our 75th anniversary,” he said. “Between him and me, and now my son, daughter and daughter-in-law, we’ve been in business, July it’ll be 76 years.”
Wacker and his wife, Lois, are clearly proud that their children have followed him into the family business. But it’s not just the trucking part that their children picked up.
“Yeah, I got a son that’s already accumulated five Macks in various stages of disrepair,” Wacker said.
It’s not just collecting old trucks – the next generation’s restoration work has already begun as well.
“In 1980, I bought a ’76 Mack Cruiseliner, which was made in California, so it’s a western,” he added. “It’s in the shop right now being restored. So, he’s working at it, but at the rate he’s going, it’ll take him 30 years, too.”
While some were in Hutchinson to show off their family’s history, others were there looking for it. OOIDA member Ke