March 7th, 2012Newsbnewlook 0 Comments

As I contemplate writing my garden column, I’m thinking about the usual autumn chores: cutting back plants, repotting house plants that vacationed on the patio for the summer and fall cleanup.

However, my mind keeps drifting to a bigger concern in my garden.

When we talk about gardening, it involves the obvious: plants, topsoil, mushroom manure, mulch, trees, bulbs, tools, wheel barrow, garden gloves. The list is endless.

You need all of them to have a successful garden. But how do you get them from Point A to Point B, which is your oasis? For many of us the answer is a pickup truck.

That brings us to Bessie.

Bessie is my big green’79 Chevy pickup. I can’t really think about much else when it comes to my fall concerns. Sure I have other dump trucks. I even have a big box truck for tools. That is the truck that is almost 12 feet tall that one of my college crew guys learned cannot fit under a train trestle that is 11½ feet tall. But that is another story, and although that truck as opened up like a can of sardines, it did not matter to me that way it would have if Bessie would have been wrecked.

The other trucks did not get names. Bessie deserved hers, through. She was named after my aunt who lived next door to me while I was growing up. Aunt Bessie was one of those women who could not understand how I could tolerate dirt under my fingernails, but she did appreciate my persistence to break into a field that was dominated by men. She was feisty and fun and never doubted my ability to to do whatever I set my mind out to do.

When I finally got my first truck to dive into the world of landscaping, it was that big green truck that made it all possible. Aunt Bessie pushing me to try harder also made it possible. Aunt Bessie had passed away in the meantime, but the name fit and stuck.

Bessie and I have been through a lot together. She is one of those trucks that they make commercials about. I can’t tell you how many times one of the guys would be stuck in a yard with a dump truck. Did we have to call Pancake Towing every time? No way. Not with that truck. One big chain, one push into four wheel drive, and Bessie would come to the rescue.

Two years ago, we were hit in front of the Union Grille and the Observer-Reporter office in downtown Washington. As the light changed green and we started through the light, a woman came down the hill, ran the red light and ended up crashing into Bessie. My truck had a few nicks and dents, but she ran fine back to the shop. The poor lady’s car was totally disabled, but Bessie took the lickin’ and kept on tickin’.

Five years ago, I was on my way to drop tools off to a couple of crews when I heard a funny noise. I pulled up onto the top of the hills where I could safely look at the tire I thought was going flat. As I shut the truck off and started to climb out, Bessie decided that since she did not have brakes anymore, she would start to drift across the road, down the hill and through the woods.

I had seconds to decide what to do and decided to play stunt woman and jumped out before I too, went through the woods. The door to the truck got bent the wrong way as it jammed between a couple of trees, but once a new door was in place, she was as good as new. I, on the other hand, have given up all thought of stunt work for a living.

This 25th year has been a touch one for that ol’girl. Once this summer she was in the garage for weeks and my guys were teasing me that the mechanics had dismantled her and she was never coming back. They said she was terminal and I should accept that. You know, the entire time she was gone, bad luck was in the air and rain was in the clouds. It just did not feel right until she was back here.

Now Bessie is sitting next to the mulch pile and there are big decisions to ponder her fate. Just like an old woman, she has her share of aches and pains. The doors don’t want to stay shut. The body has rust, holes and damage. Her batter was donated to the box truck one cold morning, and I felt like I had just witnessed and amputation.

Everyone says its time to junk her. They don’t understand. She is more than a truck to me. She is my mascot, good luck charm and constant companion. That engine starts up after weeks of non-use, and her frame can handle as much weight as a sumo wrestler.

I almost caved into common sense.

Once night I was flipping through channels when I came across the show “Pimp My Ride.” The body shop and mechanics out in California take the mnost incredible piece of crap and turn it into one of the coolest rides on the road. It is unbelievable what they accomplish. Miracles, I swear.

So I told my son that I was thinking about writing to them, and he burst m bubble saying that they take young people’s cars and make them cool. Well, I have never let my age or gender interfere with my thoughts of “cool.” Bessie is one of the coolest vehicles I have ever seen. I refuse to give into the thought of rejection. Even if we are on the other side of the country.

What would Aunt Bessie do? She would say do it. It is my last chance to help my ol’ girl.

I know that it is not wise to sink a lot of money into such an old truck. I know that the truck is not getting any younger.

I’m writing the show. How else am I getting all my garden stuff here next year?

LesliePryor is a local landscaper. Her e-mail address is

OBSERVER-REPORTER – Sunday, October 17, 2004

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