Our flyer announcing our first BIG show….
Named to Atlas Van Lines’s “Elite Fleet” (of drivers,) “Gator” drove millions of miles, flawlessly, across America in the big rig.
Now, he tells his exciting adventures to student audiences, focusing on the men and women who drive these big metal beasts….their challenges…natures’ role (hurricanes, fog, ice) and the beauty and diversity of our great land.
“Grandpa and the Truck’s” trucker and 30-year retired teacher, Providence Journal Op-Ed writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor (trucker’s wife and author) bring their lively show to Tiverton little ones.
Signed and personalized books may be ordered right here, on this website
This past Saturday was our first appearance at RI Authors’ Expo…We are the first to produce the Grandpa and the Truck books (for kids 4-9), about husband’s 30-year big rig career, transporting household goods all over America. OOIDA has named us “Cool Gifts for Kids” and Women in Trucking endorses us, too. And now, schools are inviting us in, since we’re the perfect vehicle to teach geography, nature, science, math, and important life lessons. They love the fact, too, that we meet Common Core standards.
This is our first entry into the book fair circuit but we’ve got lots more appearances on tap. We’re especially thrilled with the schools who are signing up to test-drive our books.
Our books are perfect as gifts for the countless children’s birthdays folks need a present for…Christmas…Channukah…kwanza.
If you’re a trucker, why not give a gift that tells others the important job you do, in moving ALL of America’s products? So far, no one’s done that. We aim to change that.
If you’re a trucker’s family, you’ll love the fact we recognize truckers as True American Folk-Heroes.
If you buy our books for a child, tell us how to personalize and we’ll autograph (how cool is that?) Then the books become a rare, individualized gift for a child, instead of a store-bought, everyday item…
Finally, your purchase will enable us to continue telling a trucker’s tales to our biggest fan base (kids), so truckers can finally get the recognition they so richly deserve.
Pay buttons are above….and “Thank you.”
I go into the classroom again, after a break of some years, but just like bike-riding, it all comes back.
Wow! That was fun! Went to Rhode Island Tractor Trailer Training School Thursday and spoke before the class of new recruits, about 25 young men and two women. This retired, 30-year schoolteacher found it thrilling. Back in the saddle, so to speak.
Told them all about what drove husband and I to write the Grandpa and the Truck stories…how we wanted to share the stories with little ones everywhere..how a trucker’s experiences are too wonderful a treasure trove to ignore.
Told them they’ll be the future heroes and heroines on the road…the ones little kids will wave to and thrill at. That fact brought forth smiles, as they doubltess remembered their own occasions of seeing their first big rigs and their drivers.
I left them with the idea they have big shoes to fill, those of the honorable men and women who drove the big rigs on the nation’s roads before them. Let them know many of us recognize the most important job they do, bringing America’s products to market, against often-impossible odds.
When we were done, a young man (former Iraq vet) jumped up to help us carry our box of materials out. I gotta say: I was moved by his help. I’ll do a story on him (for this site), for he’s the kind of trucker I want to see on the road. He’s had multiple life experiences (in National Guard as E-5); he’s trucked before; but now he’s getting his license in Rhode Island.
Yes, I found the day exhilarating….I know: I’m going to like my new gig as teller of the tales of truckers and their big rigs.
I couldn’t write these stories if I didn’t believe in the man. He had to be a folk-hero type, a man who knew his industry and one who little ones could learn from.
Oh, he told me the stories over the years, and I thought them remarkable…so much so that when I told them to our grandkids and saw their reaction, I decided to “put them out there,” in books.
You see, Paul Wesley Gates was born in Humnoke, Arkansas, in a one-room house aside a field, where his parents worked long hours, picking cotton. According to him, it was ‘so far back in the boonies, they had to pipe in sunshine.’
He’d eventually have 2 brothers and 4 sisters, but one died. It was a tough life and they were poor.
At 17, his formal schooling ended, when school officials suspended him for inadvertently burning down a copse of trees adjacent to the school. He’d hastily discarded a cigarette….all the more embarrassing because Joel T. Robinson School was named for a relative of his.
That’s when he went into the roofing business. But he hated spreading hot sticky tar on roofs in 110 degree Arkansas summers and when the conveyor truck delivery man took out mailboxes, hit the sides of buildings, and screwed up deliveries, the boss fired him.
That’s when Gates became a trucker. He slid onto the seat of a cab and never left—for the next 30 years.
Two years into that job, he was foreman, running a crew at 19.
From there, he joined the Navy as one of the Seabee construction crew and went to Rhode Island which became his ‘home port’ for the next 52 years.
But he’d go lots of other places, too.
He began trucking for a Rhode Island company, hauling freight and a few years into the business, he bought his own big rig …and then a second one. He was training men, too, who’d became his driving partners in a career that saw him travel every state in the United States—except one.
He was now officially, an owner-operator, hauling households (a “Bedbug Hauler,” as they say in the industry.And don’t our little ones squeal in delight over that?!)
When his 4 year Seabee stint ended, he joined the Army National Guard and rose to Sergeant First Class. In that capacity, he traveled the world, using his trucking skills in other lands like Sicily, Spain, Germany and Guatemala, building airstrips, hospitals, and schools.
Because he had exceptional talent in shooting (all that hunting as a young ‘un, getting supper for the family, paid off,) he took his National Guard’s combat pistol team to Arkansas for annual competition, even coming in 4th. in the nation one year. He did this for 20 years.
And, remember his shortened schooling due to a cigarette tossed aside? Well, that same man went on to get his GED and Associate’s Degree, in college. He gave up smoking, too, in his 30’s. He’d learned, by then, the value of both an education and being physically-fit (he still jogs.)
So, this is just a small capsule summary of the trucker behind this series. Was he an exceptional trucker, too? You bet. He was named one of Atlas Van Lines’s Elite Fleet of truckers, drivers who logged millions of miles without accident.
That meant he didn’t just drive well; he avoided accidents, as well.
So, trucker, sailor, soldier, marksman, world-traveler, patriot… and a darned good American. Just some of the reasons he’s the Model Trucker for the Grandpa and the Truck stories…
Nature’s Fury in Another…….All on the same road trip!
Hubby had a crazy thought this week. It occurred to him that one particular trucking gig years ago saw him experience two monumental events in one week: The Woodstock Music Festival, in Bethel, New York, on Aug. 15, 1969 and Hurricane Camille in Biloxi, Mississippi, on August 17, 1969.
He experienced both… as only a TRUCKER can.
First, he headed out on a northwesterly route, out of Rhode Island and was driving along in that central region of New York when he hit the “parking lot” the highway had become. Cars had been ditched everywhere, in breakdown lanes and on grassy strips of median dividers.
Truckers from the opposite direction hadn’t been able to warn him of the problem—they got stuck, too, and their CB radios were out of range.
Everybody just sat there, watching the human parade pass by–young people carrying their favorite accessory—boomboxes, shouting the music they loved.
Many would be stuck for 3 full days, as unintended ‘guests’ of the Woodstock Music Festival.
You’ll read about what this trucker did, during that event, in Grandpa and the Truck Book 3, coming out later in the Fall.
What book’s out soon? Grandpa and the Truck, Book 2, with “Grandpa Meets the Hurricane” and “Girl Truckers” (remember…it’s for little ones 4-8 years old.) That 2nd. story (every Grandpa and the Truck book has 2 stories) tells of 2 Rhode Island women who made male truckers sit up and notice, as they became phenoms in their industry…
But they didn’t start out as such.
What’s ironic? Hubby did the Biloxi run on the reverse side of the Woodstock Music Festival run….two potent events on the same road trip…. two that might have driven anyone else (but a trucker) “bonkers.”
Book 1 and 2 are available now on the www.grandpaandthetruck.com site ….
Book 2’s story with “Girl Truckers” has been endorsed b Women In Trucking. OOIDA gave us a shout-out, too, and Overdrive’s given us two.Women InTrucking and OOIDA’s edorsement are proudly affixed to the back of every Grandpa and the Truck book.
PS…We know you’ve got your own ‘chilling moments’…every trucker does. We aim to tell them to a public that knows very little about what we truckers do—via stories told to little ones. After all, they’re our best Fan Club.