The truck is just over four feet long and little more than a foot wide, a red cab with a powder blue box made of tacked and glued quarter-inch plywood.
To me, it looks enormous. I couldn’t be more surprised if a diesel smoke belching Peterbilt shoved in the kitchen wall and rolled over the living room furniture.
Grandpa walks around the front bumper, a silver strip of bent aluminum and kicks the lawnmower tires. “It’s all yours,” he says, and I can’t believe what I’m hearing. He points at the blue Nebraska plate nailed to the rear. “You’ll need to keep that license up over the years,” he warns.
Owning and operating your own big rig is a heavy responsibility.
Especially when you’re hauling around your toys. (1971)
Grandpa builds the truck on a whim. He sees the toy box plans in a magazine, thinks his five-year old grandson might like it, and knocks it out in a weekend. Grandma finds the white plastic furniture feet they use for headlights and adds a few more details. It’s her decision to not put hinges on the lid.
“It gives you one less thing to break,” she says.
The toy box stays in mint condition for a long time. Six or seven days.
Then comes the first stickers. A pair of Super-Bee racing decals one of dad’s buddies lets me have.
Then the Ski Devils Nest bumper sticker. The Wacky Package stickers. The monsters and the miscellaneous.
By the time I’m twelve, I’m keeping my comic books inside the box, and it’s hard to see the blue paint under the plaster of gum-backed paper. (1978)
Five years later, the inside is equally marred, but with oil paint. The truck has become a rolling art center. (1981)
To celebrates its twentieth anniversary I give my truck a detailed sanding and a fresh coat of paint. Its cherry red cab is brighter than ever. It’s box, now a thick sky blue.
The original license plate is reattached to the back. Inside our all my VHS video tapes. (1991)
Twelve years later, it’s showing its age.
The truck gets handed down to my son, Wyatt— a new generation! Newly christened Great-Grandpa Prosch decides on a complete restoration of his original handiwork.
Icehouse-brand beer in hand, he’s in charge of the project from his place on the couch. Directing the bodywork, ordering a new set of wheels.
For some reason he decides to jack up the rear-end. “I always wanted to build a hot-rod,” he shrugs.
Wyatt’s room is yellow and blue and green. So the truck gets a paint job to match.
Within a year, it hosts its first sticker of the new century (2004).
It holds wooden train track and Thomas toy engines, HO-Scale railroad cars and N-Scale buildings and trees (2007).
Electronic equipment, a crystal radio, and a couple model airplanes (2013).
Today we clean the box out yet again, and Wyatt thinks about what should go inside.
“Should we strip the decals? Give it a new paint job?”
“Nah,” he shakes his head. “One day my kid will want to use it. I’ll wait and see what colors he wants. Maybe put a racing stripe down the side or something.”
Looking forward to being a grandpa, I smile. “I always wanted to build a hot rod,” I say. (20??).