Thanksgiving at the Jimco Truckstop

me and an old road truck

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Like the old Johnny Cash song where he sings about all of the towns he’s been through while trucking down the road-it is exactly the way it was while being on the road as long as I was-construction or trucks,things kept me on the move….but the trucks were the best.
People always ask me if I miss it. That is easily answered with a yes.
There is a lot to trucking folks generally do not see-and do not care to know. Trucking people are a parallel society that co-exist with the rest of the population…greatly cussed about and cussed at-the,perhaps-most unthankful jobs a guy could have because we drag this stuff from one end of the planet to the other and usually get greeted with a smileless face -not always,but often enough to tell you something about how most people think about you.
In Maine-I used to go up through the wilderness to haul potatoes from Presque Isle…by far the sweetest kindest place to truckers anywhere in the good old USA. The place where the city made us park and wait to load was right up on the river front with a wonderful view across to the other side into a forested vista. Locals would drive by and chat or offer rides to a store if you needed a way to go…they would wave at you as you walked down the street-and even wait longer for thier dinners to come at a restaraunt-just so a trucker could be served first.
The life to me was wonderful-to be away….thats what they say in Maine…’he’s from away’ ! To be from ‘away’ was what the lifestyle of trucking is about-I believe most who drive are independent spirits that seek the solitude…just as I did.
Like that song Johnny Cash sings-I could sing it about every inch of every interstate ihighway in the country. I have felt every hump and bump and can never forget I-40 crossing Arkansas and was always happy hauling wide loads across that state because they’d route me onto highway 70 that ran paralell to I-40,and was a much smoother ride.
You live holidays on the road. I know I’ve spent Christmas in a motel in Moline-snow up to the door and the highways closed. Once in Mora, Minnesota they had to dig the snow away from the door to get me out of the room…that was a Christmas too. It was so cold that the air in my brake lines froze and I had to hoof it down the highway to find a phone…pre cell phone days,and remember a family turning around to pick me up-not because of Christmas cheer…but because they did’nt want me to freeze.
My most surprising holiday on the road was at the Jimco-at Ripon, California. Jimco is the old style Ma and Pa kind of truck stop. I’ve talked about it before because it was such a neat place and its old style put my mind back into the older days of trucking where we were the cowboys of the roadways and kept pride in our service as a trucker…we never wore shorts and sneakers to operate. We looked the part.
I was at the Jimco on Thanksgiving day one year .I was watching the owner walking from truck to truck talking with the drivers and shakeing hands and patting backs-soon enough he was at my drivers door knocking and greeted me with a warm pat on the back,kind of rubbing my shoulder with his hand. He held out a slip of paper and told me to go into the restaurant and have turkey dinner on him. You could look into the eyes of this old guy and see the many years of looking down the length of a hood of an old Diamond Reo or a Mack-year after year and million miles if not more. Theres a way a guy walks and if he ain;t walking-its how he stands,all around-the grip of his hand and the feel of the roughness in his right palm-caloused from all the millions of times he shifted those gears.
Across the highway about a mile from the Jimco was a chain truckstop…by far a classier place than Jimco-only in interior style,but way far behind in the real personality of the old truck stops. You can be certain on thanksgiving dinner was not offered there unless you shelled out fifteen bucks for it,and its only one dinner a year.
Jimco is a place you could describe as a shambles of a place-but the trucker instinct that grows into you over the years tells you that the brick and morter ain’t what solely keeps the place together-it is the atmosphere and the aura in the steam that comes off of the parking lot and the scene of the truckers sitting on the benches out side of the old motel-now being used as brokers offices…all guys NOT wasteing time-all drivers waiting for another load.
I hauled an old dog with me-Joe,an oscar myer wiener dog…a dachsund. Best traveling dog in the world-and he was a smart old chap,and by howdey -he knew when we dropped a load at the defense depot in Tracy that we would be heading up to Jimco. Joe loved the walnut groves that covered acres between the greatest truck stop and the major chain from across the way. Joe and I would go up and down through the lined rows of walnut trees-it was such peace to go into that grove from being cooped into the cabin of a big rig and after thousands of miles of asphalt.
Think about it as your families get together during the holidays-eating and being close and happy and all that cheer. A trucker was the primary facility for everything you have-and countless guys and gals are humping loads across the United States and Canada-Mexico,and all across the world. But right here in our own land there are these folks who work so we can have…sitting alone in a truck somewhere. You should see how things do take place around the truckstops of America-places like Jimco that show you appreciation and like the people in the state of Maine where they are by far the most kindest people to truckers I’ve ever known. Yup…I miss every bit of it!

6 Responses to “Thanksgiving at the Jimco Truckstop”

  1. retro Says:

    This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. We soaked the bird in a brine solution she got at William Sonoma it really kept it moist. OMG, the turkey was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!

  2. Montana Trucker Says:

    Been there done that…. your story brings back alot of memory’s of when I sat in the cab of my truck. For the 20 yrs and 2 million miles that I drove. I remember a couple of Holidays and Thanksgiving at Jimco’s in Ripon CA

  3. jayherron Says:

    Thanks for reading…glad my memories brought back some of yours!
    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  4. Marquees Leeds Says:

    Daniela Laughlin in Yorkshire X

  5. Jeannee Waseck Says:

    Hi! I love, love, love! the way you write!!!! Seriously – print it all out and put it in a book!

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