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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Still trucking

  • Dennis Tate doesn't go unnoticed when he's out driving his truck.
    He can be heard approaching several yards away and by the time he gets from Destination A to Destination B, just about every other motorist has slowed down to stare, wave, give a thumbs up or a combination of all three.
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  • Dennis Tate doesn't go unnoticed when he's out driving his truck.
    He can be heard approaching several yards away and by the time he gets from Destination A to Destination B, just about every other motorist has slowed down to stare, wave, give a thumbs up or a combination of all three.
    Of course that would happen to pretty much anyone driving an 84-year-old truck.
    "Most people don't have a car or a truck they drive the whole time that they're here," Tate said.
    He was 13 when he learned how to drive in this truck, a 1929 Ford Model AA ton truck to be exact, and it has gone from family farm tool to family heirloom over a period of 54 years.
    "In the late '40s, there was a junkyard where Logue's Restaurant is at, and they converted it to a boom truck. They kept it till about '56, there was a guy out on West Ely who had a junkyard and he used it till '59 and my father bought it in 1959," Tate said. " We've roughly used it as a water car on the farm from '59 till about 1980. We always used it for hayrides and stuff like that."
    Not too shabby for a vehicle that started out as a funeral coach.
    "When we bought it in the '50s, it had no cab, had a small wooden box and the axle was moved up to about where the cab is and welded to the frame."
    The old Ford gets 14 miles to the gallon with 47 horsepower at a maximum 45 miles per hour.
    "That's on flat ground," Tate said of the powerful speed. "You got a long hill, sometimes you got to go down to third."
    The Tate truck has a phone charger, a dome light and a few things that weren't really standard in cars in 1929, but Dennis made a few changes. Every so often the truck makes it up to the family's land near Palmyra and recently a trip to Ohio.
    Because of the car's age and ability, Tate can't drive it on the interstate, so the backroads of the U.S. highways were the only option.
    It took 13 hours to get there and 14 hours to return. Normally it's a seven-hour trip.
    "It's not like today's car. You can see the brake rods, it's all manual brakes. Whatever power you got in your legs is what you got for braking," Tate said. "In today's standards it's not that safe. You can't stop it on a dime. You have to always be alert and always watch around you."
    And the original purpose of the truck may be used when Tate's time comes. He said he might use the truck as "one last ride" when the time comes to go to his final resting place.
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