In this story my Aunt tells how a Model T truck helped keep her family going during the Great Depression. I don’t know if it was the same truck or not but my Dad and Aunt also told of a vehicle their dad owned with wooden spokes on the wheels. When the weather was hot and dry, the spokes would dry out and become loose. They would then have to stop and soak the spokes in water until they swelled and would once more stay in place.
by Iva Bailey
In 1930 the depression had started. The logging camp my dad worked in closed down. It was hard to find a job then. There was a box factory in town that made berry boxes, but it was only working part-time and they were laying off workers. It was the same with the two lumber mills we had. There were fruit canneries but they only ran in the summer time.
Dad decided to start cutting and selling wood. He bought a Model T Ford truck and he leased some logged off land up above Orting on Stony Creek. It was some of the same land he had worked on as a logger. When the loggers went through they had just taken the larger trees. There were lots of trees left that were good enough for wood.
I’ll never forget that Model T Ford truck. It had solid rubber tires. He didn’t have to worry about them going flat they were already that way. It wasn’t the most comfortable riding truck, but it was always fun for my brother and me, when dad would let us ride in the back. We were also the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood.
Dad would start out early in the morning and cut a cord of wood and come back home. If he had an order for the wood he would deliver it, if not he would take it to town and set on the street until someone came along and bought it. There were others selling wood also so it wasn’t easy to sell. There wasn’t much money in the wood business then. He was lucky if he got five dollars a cord, most of the time it was less.
It was quite a job keeping that truck running. When dad wasn’t cutting and hauling wood, he was working on the truck. He picked up an extra motor and when one motor gave out he would change it for a good one. Then he would repair the bad one and have it ready for the next time the motor gave out.
One time when he was coming down a steep hill with a load of wood the brakes gave out and he couldn’t stop. He managed to ride it out down the hill without any damage. After that when we kids would go with him, as we sometimes did, he would let us walk down the hill and pick us up at the bottom. He didn’t trust that truck.
Another time a wheel came off when we were coming down the road. He stopped fast that time. He had to unload the wood fix the wheel back on and reload the wood.
The steering gear broke once when we were all riding in the truck. I can remember wondering why Dad was driving down the middle of the road. After he stopped he told us he hadn’t been able to steer it. We were lucky we didn’t have the traffic then like we have today.
That truck was a real challenge to my dad but he managed to keep it running and to make a living for a while. Times were bad and it would be quite a while before they got much better.