Waylon L 1951 Ford F-1

My Grandfather's Voice

My story begins as many other stories of old trucks and cars begins...with my Grandfather. He was a quiet man, a hard-worker who grew up very poor. The son of a share-cropping father and a "do what it takes" mother, he was raised in the hills of North Georgia. I was blessed to be his first Grandchild, and we quickly built a special bond. One of my first memories of spending time with "Poppie", as I called him, was washing his bright red, fully restored 1951 Ford truck. My first job in washing the shining truck was to clean the wheels. I was perhaps 4 years old, and I can still hear his gentle voice teaching me, not only how to properly clean the vehicle, but also teaching me valuable life lessons with a brush in his hand. "Now you have to do a good job..." he would say. "You have to take care of your things...If you do, they will last for a long time." I would scrub and wipe until I could see my reflection in the shining chrome of the wheels on "Big Red". I was allowed to give the truck this name, because of my childhood love for "Clifford the Big Red Dog" story books. Each and every Saturday, my Grandfather would come and pick my up, after cartoons, of course, and we would, brushes in hand, clean "Big Red." After his beloved truck shined like the sun, it was treat time. We drove through the small Georgia town where I was raised and watched everyone admire "Big Red." A trip to the local Tastee Freez for ice cream always ended our Saturday fun. When I got old enough, my Grandfather told me how he acquired his truck. He had just gotten back from World War II and started his first job as a bus driver. He and my Grandmother worked hard and, even though they had two children, the couple managed to save enough money to travel to a neighboring town in order to find a vehicle. Poppie said that when he saw "Big Red", his heart nearly stopped. He knew that the sticker price was way out of his price range, yet, he wanted that truck...and when Quention Neal wanted something, he always got it. He and my Grandmother worked out an agreement with the Ford Dealership to make up the extra money that the truck cost. For two years, my Grandmother cleaned the offices at the dealership, while my Grandfather did outside tasks to help pay for the cost of the truck. He mowed the lawn, washed cars and trucks, delivered vehicles in his spare time...He did anything and everything to afford "Big Red". I can still hear his voice--"When you want something, you have to work for it...It makes you appreciate it more." I will never forget the last time that my Grandfather came to pick me up in "Big Red". He had become frail...Cancer had taken its toll on his body, but his mind remained sharp. "Now, you are going to school in the big city...You are a man now..Remember that you have to work, Waylon...If you want something, work hard for it." My Grandfather died about 6 weeks into my freshman year in college. However, his words still guide me today. And we still have "Big Red", I am proud to say. Each and every time I come home for a visit with my family, I always visit "Big Red" as well. I drive to the local car wash, and as I carefully clean the truck, starting with the wheels, of course, I can hear my Grandfather's voice--"You have worked hard, Waylon...I am proud of you."

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