Long-Haul Trucker Relives a 2-Day Gridlock in One Instance…

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.


Nothin’ Worse Than an Arkan-san Trucker Speakin’ Spanish

There it is–looking oh so pretty, but pretty darned impossible to find if you’re a trucker not familar with Spanish… 

The dispatcher, Howard Jolly (I kid you not—that was his name), told my hubby he’d need to go to La Hoya…and that’s what hubby remembered.  Oh, my man was methodical and always prepared. 

Hubby’d been trucking for years and he knew to write down all of the addresses.  It was well before the time anyone had a GPS strapped to the dashboard. He wrote it as it sounded: La Hoy-a.

You see, truckers need to be attentive to details and find destinations on their own.

After all, it’s not like a trucker manning a big rig can pull that baby up to a corner and yell out, to any passerby: “Hey, fella (or ma’am,) do ya know where La Hoy-a is?”

No, siree, that won’t work.

Ok, so he went all over the region he’d been directed to, and he just couldn’t find La Hoya, anywhere.  It wasn’t even on the map, for God’s sake. He looked and looked.

Now, at the time, there was no Siri on the cell phone…No Google to look something up…No anything that takes “stupid” out of the equation. He was on his own.

Finally, on his third go-around in the general region of 12 miles north of San Diego, he caught a break.  Pulled alongside another trucker who solved the mystery for him. La Hoya was actually “Lo Jolla”…a Spanish word.

No, it doesn’t sound like it’s spelled—especially if you’re like my hubby–an Arkan-san (that’s not Arkansaw-an).

What did this experience teach trucker Paul Wesley Gates?  How very difficult it must be for Spanish-speaking truckers to understand American road signs.  They’ve got a whole lot more to process than he did with understanding that one town name.

Yep, this La Jolla  (pronounced La Hoya) thing gave him new appreciation for what his Spanish-speaking brother and sister truckers go through as they perform their jobs. And he salutes them everywhere…

“Hasta Luego, Amigos…”

***Stay tuned for the Grandpa and the Truck stories (first children’s book went to the printer yesterday—ready soon.)



“Grandpa and the Truck” Stories for Kids: A Tribute to the American Trucker


For latest updates to how we’re doing as we get the word out about Grandpa and the Truck Stories, scroll down.  It’s there, I give running updates…



Truckers are key to the American Success Story. How?  They transport every product we use in our daily lives.

The “Grandpa and the Truck” stories focus on the career experiences of one of them.  Written for kids ages 4-8, they show what truckers deal with via Mother Nature, crazy drivers, and tough road conditions.

They teach important life lessons as well.

The stories are based on the career of veteran, long-haul trucker Paul Wesley Gates, one of Atlas Van Lines’s “Elite Fleet” of drivers who logged millions of miles without accident.

He drove the big rigs for 30 years, clear across America, from Canada in the north, to the Gulf region in the south, and from his home port of Rhode Island on the east coast, to Washington State, in the west.

And in that job, he became expert at many things: how to run a business…how to interact with people..how to deal with emergencies. He met extraordinary folks and faced almost-insurmountable tasks.

But he is forever grateful for a job that taught him much about life and exposed him to the wonder of America with its diversity, amazing geography, and the goodness of its people.

His stories are from the perspective of “Grandpa,” and they’re the tales he told me.  Then, I told them to our 3 grandchildren.

But make no mistake:  Grandpa’s tales are the stories of all truckers as they go about their business every day—moving America.

For that reason, Grandpa’s stories are a tribute to them all.

Colleen Kelly Mellor (author of “Grandpa and the Truck” Stories and wife to this trucker)