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Old school flier shows how much has changed (and how much has stayed the same) in trucking


A decades-old flier written in honor of the American truck driver is a stirring reminder of the old school trucking mentality.

The prose poem “What is a truck driver” by Dan Valentine appeared in 1960 and pays tribute to the truck drivers who kept America moving.

See below for the full text:

“What is a truck driver?” — Jim Valentine.

He’s a BIG GUY …. He’s a small guy.

He comes in all sizes and shapes… short, tall, skinny, fat. Laughing, serious, happy, sad.

He’s transportation with a grin on his face…Distribution with a cocked left eyebrow…He’s progress with diesel fumes in his hair.

He makes his living holding 10 tons of steel in his hands…He has highways in his eyes.

He’s a truck driver!

He hauls milk for the nation’s babies, dresses for the nation’s ladies…Steel for the nation’s war machines…and bread for the nation’s breakfast tables.

Big boots, work pants, and a cap on the side of his head, he’s a businessman with grease on his elbow, philosopher with a bill of lading in his pocket, diplomat with a steering wheel in his hands…

He likes straight highways…Blond waitresses…Slot machines that pay off…Friendly cops…and bonus checks.

The road’s his home…He drives today so the world can live tomorrow…

Laughing, cocky, husky, he’s tough enough to hold his cargo against a hurricane.

And gentle enough to stop 10 tons of wheeled steel…to let a 12 ounce kitten cross the road…

He can tell you where to get the best piece of apple pie on the highway…and where the radar traps are, and which roads to take to make the fastest time…

He hates, in the order named, phonies, roadhogs, tough traffic cops, highway weigh stations, small-town justices of the peace…Steep hills…Cackling cargo…and weak coffee.

He’s America on wheels…He’s big business with a roadmap in his pocket.

He’s a truck driver!

Without him, there would be no gasoline to run the nation’s automobiles…No steel to make the machines, no concrete to build the highways…No merchandise to spin the wheels of trade.

Born 200 years ago, he would have been a buccaneer, a privateer, a freebootin’ soldier of fortune.

Born 100 years ago, he would have been a frontier scout, a stage coach driver… a rider of the Pony Express.

He has eyes that look over the mountains … he likes to see the other side of hills.

He eats better than a banker, dresses like a Texas rancher, is more independent than a newly-elected senator…and as temperamental as an opera prima donna…

He’s an authority on politics, women, highway construction, baseball…and the best way to run a trucking company.

He likes the feel of the night wind on his face and the sound of a purring motor…

He lives by the code of the road…and passes no man by who needs a helping hand.

He’s got problems, and is not bashful in aiming complaints about the state of the world at large…

And every trip he threatens to get off the road and live like other men….

But he never does…Because the highway is a flirting Lorelei who hums a haunting tune for the men who chase the horizon on spinning wheels…

And when the tires sing…and the road is straight…and the moon is bright on a ribbon of cross-country highway, he’s the happiest, most useful man in America…

He’s a truck driver!


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