This Trucker Learned a Lesson That Stuck

This Trucker Learned:

 “There Are Far Worse Things Than Going to School”

He was only 17. They’d thrown him out of school for his accidental burning of the woods right next to the school. Oh, he didn’t mean it. He’d just ducked out a side door of the school to sneak a smoke break with his buddy, Joe Grover. When he finished the butt, he flicked it off. It landed on dry kindling. That’s how the fire in the woods started.

The worst part? The school (Joe T. Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas) was named in honor of a relative. Now, he’d dishonored the family.

At first, he thought “Being thrown out isn’t so bad. I’ll get a job and earn some money.”

And so, the next day he started working for a roofing company. The boss had him high up, on a hot roof, in 120 degree heat of a summer day. His job? Spreading the hot tar that made the roof shingles stick. He was breathing in the fumes and sweating so much he thought he’d pass out.

“Argh…Ugh…Phewie…” he said, all day long, pushing the long broom handle up on the roof, moving the black resin, to even it out.

The tar stuck to his fingers and clothes. Try as he might, he couldn’t remove it.

When some days were too hot to work, the crew went up on the roof at night, to work under spotlights.

It was dangerous, sticky work.

He realized only later that his roofing job was much harder than any school day.

***This trucker, Paul Wesley Gates, would go back to school, years later, and earn his GED and an Associates Degree in college. But he had to learn the hard way.

***To buy “Grandpa and the Truck” books for kids, go to colleenkellymellor.com (an Amazon  link is provided).

 **To get future posts on “Grandpa and the Truck,” please sign on  to this website.



christmas present--booksThey’re rolling on the superslab of the internet…Our “Grandpa and the Truck” stories, that is.

And you know what? We’re the ONLY official, real-life truckers telling these stories to little kids.

Stories of a 30-year, award-winning, long-haul trucker who traveled every state (but one) in the United States.

In these, he’s witness to a several-car pileup on a fog-enshrouded, coastal highway in California…or being chased by a pack of bloodhounds in the Virginia foothills, in quest of fuel, late at night….or waking up to a cat #5 hurricane in Biloxi, Mississippi…or seeing 2 Rhode Island women “show the boys” they’re top-rated, long-haul truckers.

His stories are real. They all happened. Just as he tells.


Just like the main character—“Gater.”

Kids love our stories because they love the big rigs and their super-hero drivers.

We think: It’s time American truckers got the attention they deserve for the job they do every day in moving the nation’s products.

Order personalized, author-signed books, now, in time for the holidays.fleet of trucks--grandpa and the truck


I Heard Him Say “Breaker…Breaker…1…9…Do you copy?”


(Here are 2 of the 3 often wrestling with who’s going to drive the big rig.)

Then he followed it up with “I got a “smokie” on my tail…”  I could barely contain myself and stifled back the giggles.  Little Finn said this to no one in particular as he pushed the model big rig across the carpet.

In that few seconds, he confirmed what I know:  Little ones will love the Grandpa and the Truck stories.

The “he”?  Our littlest grandson who’s 4 and a half years old. Oh, he doesn’t know that’s his age.  He’s got 7-year-old brothers, and for that reason, he always joins them in their play –or tries to.

But he loves the big rigs, and he’s listened to our stories—attentively. That’s why, when I overheard him, all alone, on this recent visit, he convinced me of that fact.

You see, the family came to stay with us, when New Jersey got socked with Sandy.  My daughter’s family were without electricity, heat, and the means to cook their food. So, at my direction, she bundled the kids into the car and they came to us, in Rhode Island (her place of work was flooded, but her husband still had to go to his job during that time.)

 They stayed for 5 days.

As soon, as the kids entered our home, they went for the model big rig (one we use for presentations.) I knew they would:  It’s a pretty cool facsimile of the real deal; its’ fire-engine red; its doors open; they could see the interior where a trucker sleeps on long runs (in the sleeper area behind the front seats.)

And every day they fought over who’d be driving it, across the carpet.

But because he’s the most difficult to entertain (usually), the little one won. So, over the next 5 days, he pushed the big rig across the entire floor of our home, all the while, chatting to himself.

I was thrilled. Why?  I knew he’d absorbed the stories we’ve read to them. 

You see, the Grandpa and the Truck stories pack a lot into the pages: We include Lesson as focus: “It’s not always wise to follow the leader;” “don’t go into unfamiliar territory alone;” “boys and girls can do anything as careers, based on interests and abilities;” respect nature for it is powerful, indeed.”

They learn trucker jargon like “truckers use CB radios;” diesel is fuel for trucks; a “smokie” is a policeman.

Question pages accompany each story and maps give kids the all-important geography lesson we promise.

Plus, the illustrations are beautiful, indeed, the work of a professional artist.

Yep, we’re packed with useful information in a vehicle kids love:  Stories of the big rig and its driver, Grandpa as younger trucker, when he traveled across America.

He went through every state but one (and kids learn which one he didn’t go through and why.)

So, we invite you all to climb aboard, and soon you, too, will hear:  “Breaker…breaker…1…9,” as your little one mimics the language of a trucker.

We’re not ‘just for boys,’ either:  Book 2’s “Girl Truckers,” highlights two Rhode Island women who cracked the glass ceiling of the trucking industry, making the men sit up and notice. That story is paired with “Grandpa Meets the Hurricane” about this trucker’s staring down a Category 5 hurricane, in Biloxi, Mississippi, a storm that blew the roof clear off his motel. 

Book 1 and Book 2 are clearly described on the site, with instructions as to how to purchase.

We hope you’ll join us on our journey across America.

(Here’s what they can’t get enough of…the model big rig.  The Grandpa and the Truck stories bring a trucker’s life “home” to them.)


Rhode Island’s Next “Alex & Ani”? I Can Dream…Can’t I?

Last year I wrote a blog post about them on my Biddy Bytes website—the little company that grew out of nothing to become a national phenom. Its adherents wear thin little bangles of recycled, non-precious metal ‘round their wrists signifying all sorts of things.

It’s believed each wristlet is imbued with some kind of spiritual essence, and the company’s brilliant marketing plan pushed these little body adornments into the stratosphere, for they’re everywhere—most notably on most of Rhode Island’s female population (whose wrists are almost exclusively encircled with dozens of the little dears.) But men wear them, too.

With all their success, Alex and Ani has never forgotten who they are—a Rhode Island company.

You see, that’s important to them, for the jewelry industry used to be BIG here, but in the decades since it’s heyday, that industry’s fizzled and tanked.  And recently, when other states’ unemployment rates spiked at 8% unemployment, we’d already ‘gone there,’ and topped out at 10%.

So when a little company harkening back to our “King of the Jewelry” era was born, we all embraced it. It was just good karma.

But Alex & Ani is the brainchild of one woman who followed her dream to follow her jeweler father’s lead, developing her product. Now people clamor for her and their company product. And her product is in all the supposed fashionable places like Newport… Naples…Hollywood.

Her mission is to doubtless encircle the wrists of all who wear jewelry.

We, at Grandpa and the Truck, have a similar mission. Curiously, we find ourselves alike our sister RI company, in other ways, too.  We’re both…

  •  Products of a small, grass-roots efforts.
  • “Made in the United States”…That’s important to us, as we do our little part to grow the US economy. Our books are printed in Charleston, SC—not China, like so many others.
  • Formed from ‘recycled materials’…Our books are made out of paper which is made out of trees.
  • The brainchild of Rhode Island women.
  •  Share a similar mission:  Alex & Ani hopes to be on everyone’s wrist, while we want a Grandpa and the Truck book in every child’s hands.
  • Committed to our products.
  • Known for charitable component: We go to hospitals to cheer up sick kids; they have a corporate charitable component.
  • Bringing joy to others with our products.
  • Named for one of us. Owner/designer, Carolyn Rafaelian, named her company after two of her children; we honor Grandpa (the trucker) in ours.
  • Inexpensive.  Alex & Ani cost about $25.00 per bangle, while Grandpa and the Truck books cost $9.99 for 2 beautifully-illustrated stories, plus Lesson as focus, Question pages, Trucker Terms, Maps…

 **Quite simply, in today’s market, we both offer a lot of bang (or bangle) for the buck.



Tyler Triplets Love Grandpa and the Truck

“Who are those adorable kids?” you ask….

They say “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” or “The proof is in the pudding,” and I say:  “Folks, we couldn’t stage this—believe me.”  See the little ones in the big banner picture atop the site?  They’re the sons of a daughter’s co-worker enjoying Book 1 of the Grandpa and the Truck stories.  It just helps a lot that these Tyler triplets are adorable!

Look at the expression…pure enjoyment as they follow the adventures of Grandpa as a young trucker, when he trekked all across the United States in his truck “Proud Mary.” What happens in Story 1?  Well, little ones learn the wisdom of independent thinking (no, I don’t put it that way in the story) as they follow a chain of cars following a “smokie” (“policeman” in trucker lingo) on a fog-enshrouded highway. This story will teach them to think before they blindly follow.

In Book 1, Story 2 (each book contains two stories), excitement is ramped up even more when Grandpa’s trucking partner goes off into the Virginia woods after dark and falls into a pack of bloodhounds.  The merry chase is on, as Ralph races down a moonlit path yelling “Paul, open the truck door…they’re after me!”

When I’m reading the story and get to the part where the dogs are at Ralph’s butt, the little ones convulse in laughter.

All good, wholesome fun…teaching good things…with remarkable illustrations sure to get little ones’ imaginations running (But, I swear:  It looks like the Tyler tykes are actually reading–at least the middle one! Considering they’re only 4, that’s pretty amazing!)

In approximately three weeks, Book 2 will be released containing “Girl Truckers” about two Rhode Island women who became a long-haul trucking sensation and “Grandpa Meets the Hurricane” where little ones will learn about one of Nature’s most powerful forces.

“Stay tuned…good buddies.”

PS…Some have said, “But I don’t have little ones 4-8 years of age.”  The answer to this?  Grandpa and the Truck stories make great gifts for little ones in the 4-8 age group, so if you have event coming down the pike where you’ll need, they make unique, personalized gifts. Or you could stockpile in case you will need and avoid rushing out for that last-minute gift.

Not sure your little ones will like? Just look at the faces of the little boys in the banner picture…There is no better testimony.

See you soon when I tell you more about the trucker…the model behind this series…things you probably don’t know, even if you think you know him.