Gerry's Uncle, Guy McRobie and I had been good friends before the war and our friendship continued afterwards. Guy was one of the best mechanics around. We did work together for a short time in Blair shipyard. After the war Guy went to work for an International Truck Agency in White Plains, The Interbrite Corporation. Guy pointed out the greater money in truck repair and suggested I change to trucks. Interbrite needed a mechanic at that time and I took the job.
Interbrite was owned by two partners, Bill Eddy and Carl Lindlow. Bill was a super salesman who traveled to every construction site in the state. His success was phenomenal. During the war the draft board insisted that one of the partners must serve. Bill having a degree in business administration and no children volunteered. He was given a commission in the Navy and served as a lieutenant aboard ship.
Carl handled repairs and new truck preparation. Through Carl I learned to stock the parts department and handle sales. He taught me to paint milk company trucks of multiple colors. He was pleased with my mechanical ability so he did not need to get into the grease pits unless I wanted his opinion. I became the all around gopher taking road repair calls and purchasing parts from Albany to New York City.
Trucks were very much in demand from 1948 and later. Production lines could not always supply the requested chassis lengths or the spring support for different loads. Guy and I would cut and extend chassis to meet the need. We welded as much as three more feet to extend the frame and fish plated the entire length for added support. We built lumber beds on altered frames with rollers for quick load releases.
Our customer businesses varied from coal delivery, oil delivery, lumber trucks, refrigerator trucks , tractor/trailers. Railway Express stored five trucks in the garage each night. We had to monitor their mileage and service them as required. Bambace Beer trucks required the same attention. It was a very busy operation with four full time mechanics.
I received a road call from Hawthorn, about 20 miles away. It was a Sheffield Ice Cream truck with a full load from Poughkeepsie. Not only was the load heavy, but it could not set long or the temperature would rise. The right rear wheel was stripped of all the lug nuts. The truck could not be moved or towed. To do so might cause the wheel to separate from the truck.
I loaded the pickup with all the tools I thought I'd need and started a hurried trip to Hawthorn. Along the way I encountered Radar for the first time. The Smoky Bears were in ecstasy. They had a bona fide criminal recorded on their new gadget.
I explained the delicate situation, but they were adamant to prosecute me to the full extent of the law.
"Officers", I offered, "While we stand here talking, $20,000 dollars worth of ice cream is about to melt all over the highway."
They didn't want to admit it, but that reached them.
"Well, hmmm, errr what do you think Joe?"
"Maybe we aught to let him go Bill."
"Awright, go ahead."
Coogy did a curtsy and gave them the finger when he was out of sight.
Another road call took me to Main Street in White Plains. The driver of a lumber truck reported a dead battery. I brought a battery with me to replace the original, but out of curiosity I struck a spark across the terminals of the presumed dead battery. When I left for service, all batteries were six volts. If a battery seemed dead we would test it by striking a spark across the terminals. All vehicles after the war had batteries of twelve volts with much more energy.
The problem was not a dead battery, it was a jammed starter. The driver's continued attempts built up a volume of hydrogen gas that blew the battery to smithereens. The noise was so great I couldn't hear the rest of the day. I was a very lucky fellow.
Pepperidge Farms, during this time, offered me an opportunity to accept a new route they were establishing in Columbus, Ohio. They even offered to finance a new truck until I was secured. Gerry refused to go. I thought after I should have been more firm in my decision, but a better opportunity did appear later.
Much of our recreation time was spent at Guy McRobie's weekends. The Cross County Park Commission own a large piece of land behind the McRobie house which, eventually, was to be converted to a super highway. In the meantime the Commission granted us permission to farm as much of the land as we liked. Fifty by fifty was as much as we could comfortably handle and it took most of our weekends to maintain it properly. The land proved ideal for farming. All summer long we enjoyed the best of Vegetables. On the same land under a group of trees, we built a picnic table and horse shoe pits. It became a favorite recreation spot for other neighbors also.
Red and Marion Robison, a couple from Poughkeepsie joined the picnic one day. During the course of discussion, I mentioned how I looked forward to finding a job with long range security. Red worked for a coal company and Marion worked for the IBM Corporation in Poughkeepsie. The factory produced Garand rifles during the war. Now they were into electronic data equipment. (Notice the word computer is not used yet.)
Marion said there were plans to build a new plant in Kingston. She told of the many benefits the company offered and what wonderful people they were to work for. I decided to travel to Poughkeepsie the following week and submit an application.
Charles had started kindergarten and I could see the beginning influence of New York City in the White Plains area. Whether I would be lucky enough to get a position with IBM became secondary. I wanted to raise the family in a less street influenced area. Charles was now five and Linda had made her debut a year earlier.
GO TO the next chapter in my life
RETURN to the table of contents
RETURN to the home page