We Did Things Much Differently Back Then

I grew up around construction equipment and trucks. In the 60s when I was in high school, my dad, Cecil Lewis ran a fleet of dump trucks. Among other things we had the contract to haul the blasted rock from the Pure Stone Quarry out south of Marble Falls back to the crusher in town.

Even as young and as small as I was at 14 or 15, I would single-handedly pull transmissions and replace clutches in those old dump trucks and did brake jobs. I knew how to do all that then. For sure, there was always a lot of mechanic work to be done.

Now I would have trouble putting a spare tire if I have a flat, much less understand the working of today’s cars and trucks.

One day he sent a couple of trucks loaded with building stone down to Lake Livingston in east Texas. When they dumped their loads and headed back, one truck lost an engine. Both drivers returned in a single truck.

The next morning he and I took off for Onalaska, Texas a distance of nearly 250 miles. Upon arriving, seeing that nothing we could do would bring the truck back to life without a new engine, we hooked a chain to it and dragged it back to Marble Falls behind a half ton Ford pickup. I wasn’t old enough to have had a commercial drivers license.

We had a winch truck setting in the yard that he could have sent to retrieve it, but that wasn’t the Cecil Lewis way.

Only if you ever rode with that man can you really understand what a feat it was that we made it back alive. Not only did he drive fast, he didn’t always pay attention to the road. He didn’t always come to easy stops. With that truck on behind didn’t change any of that.

This was a 63 Chevrolet 5 yard dump truck and was it was equipped with hydraulic brakes that didn’t need the engine running to operate the air compressor as with some of the other trucks we had. It even had good brakes, was an oddity in itself. Since it had good brakes I just had to pay attention every second. If not I’d likely be right up in the middle of that pickup with that dump truck.

By the grace of God we made the trip back to Marble Falls with everything in tact, perhaps except my nerves.

No one else I know of would have towed a truck that far behind a pickup.

I have no way knowing how many miles I’ve driven during the past almost 50 years since my last at fault accident, but I’ve estimated it to be we’ll over 3 1/2 million miles. In September of 1971 in rear ended a Williamson County Road maintenance pickup in Liberty Hill. It was before daylight and I had drifted off to sleep, waking up about a half second before impact, at about 60 miles per hour.

I walked away from that wreck with no real injuries, but a really messed up Ford automobile. The county truck was barely damaged. The toughness of those old trucks and a big pipe welded across the back made that Ford car no match for it.

To date that was the last wreck I caused. I’ve had a few where I’ve been rear ended or sitting and been run into, but no at faults wrecks.

I credit the training I got on trips like the one above and the many others, albeit much shorter ones, with my lightening fast reflexes that have keep me from being involved in many collisions.

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