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.


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.)