Ode To Old Blue

At the honky-tonk outside of town
A bit off the gravel driveway
You see Old Blue hangin round
Just standing there, thata way.

Old Blue was hard, you got the feel.
When you first saw her
You thought of cold blue steel.
She had a heavy rear end, yes-sir.
And when you got her loaded to the gills
She could be a half ton of pure go, an' in a blur.

Easy is the way some describe Ol' Blue
But tough and with no regrets.
Walk all over her if you dared too
She never bent, never broke and life left few dents.

More than a few teenagers
Got their first ride in her bed
And nobody complained of the danger
Least of all Old Blue; it's said.

Sometimes you got hot
Cause she'd give you the air
Other times cold, like as not,
My God she could be cold; but to be fair.
If you knew what it's about,
You could get her going without a care.

One day, a feller made a proposition
That couldn't be refused.
And, Old Blue fell prey to another's infatuation.
To my lifelong regret an' others to.
They don't build ‘em with a constitution
Like Old Blue's anymore, it's true.

Who Was Old Blue?

Inside, Old Blue wasn't much to see.
A bench seat of some material
that was next to being indestructible
stretched from door to door
and four could sit there in a pinch.

Behind the seat was a gun rack,
some put a shotgun or rifle on the arms
but mostly it was handy for a cane or a hotshot,
or even fishing poles and rods (if they came apart) .

On the steering wheel was a spinner
that made it easy to turn the wheel with one hand,
no power steering needed.
This was particularly good when backing a trailer.

She had three on the tree,
not four on the floor
and sometimes the shifter would stick
and she just didn't want to go,
so you had to get under her bonnet,
give her levers a jiggle
when they were locked up,
jiggle the arms a bit and
she was ready to go.

Old Blue had six-cylinders
on the rails with points and plugs.
And the carburetor with air filter
was right there on top
so you could easily pour
in a bit of gas if need be.
Old Blue wasn't particular about gas,
distillate right out of the ground in Texas (about 80 octane) ,
or tractor gas and
of course regular if you had the money.

This was before air pollution control devices,
so she was easy to work on.
Old blue started smoking
when she was six,
and it only got worse.
Seemed the only way she could get along
was a pick-me-upper in the morning.
A quart or so.

The long wheel base
and stepside made her stand out
around the square.
The heavy sheet metal all around
meant that if you brushed up against something,
like as not that something came out second best.
You could actually stand on the hood or cab roof
and not put a dent in them. (Try that with trucks today.)

The custom rear bumper
was put together in a welding shop
and looked good but tough.
Best of all she could be turned
‘round in a short radius.

Many a nail
we put in the wooden floor
to fix the cargo,
no ropes or chains were necessary.
We hauled a piano once
by just wedging 2X4's up close
and nailing them down.

And the rack on the back
was Georgia pine,
reinforced with angle iron and designed
so that with a double deck,
as many as twenty calves
could be hauled at once.
(Try that with the new trucks.)
Old Blue, built in 1972 by
Chevrolet served us well.

Other's appreciated Old Blue

When Old Blue turned the corner
about half mile from home,
Springy, Miss Cow and the rest
headed for the house.
They knew that feed was on the way
and all fell into their place in the parade
as they raced for the top of the hill.
Usually the disinterested bull
would be there with the rest,
running with two front feet together
with the hind ones getting by the best they could,
as he gained speed,
sometimes giving a buck
that would rival the best of the rodeo bulls.
A gallop I suppose you could call it
but regardless,
it seemed to get him to the front of the line.
The cows with heavy udders
swinging like pendulums
had a pace of left foot forward,
followed by the right,
which seemed to have an easy rhythm
that kept them in the race,
while the calves cavorting around,
first in the front then in the rear,
mindlessly running for they knew not what
since the hay had little appeal
as long as milk flowed freely.

What was the distinctive sound of Old Blue?
We never knew,
but it was enough to get the herd started.
Of course their clock was set
for feeding at about six
so they were probably more attuned to sounds.
And certainly if an outlook
had spotted the blue truck,
that would have triggered their stampede,
but since they were often
deep in the wood-pasture,
it is unlikely they had one posted for sighting.
No, it was some distinctive sound
from the six cylinder
that to the human ear
was well muffled and without any sound at all
from more than a hundred feet or so.
But to the cow's well tuned ear,
they picked it up and were on their way.
And they never made a mistake.
All sorts of other cars and trucks passed by
and never did they show the smallest bit of interest
and start the mad rush for the house.

They must have surely loved Old Blue.
After-all she was responsible
for their winter feed of hay and cotton seed,
and often for a bit of pellets from a sack
at other times of the year.
So, when they found her standing in the field unattended,
what to do was quickly answered,
as they gave her a good licking
not unlike that which a cow
gives her new borne calf
or maybe one that just needed
a good tongue washing.
You might think that
it could have been the antifreeze
with its sweet taste, but no,
they washed everything,
headlights, windshield, doors, windows, hood,
anything they could get their tongues on.
One would think that an owner of Old Blue
would be appreciative
but when you get behind the wheel,
fire up the truck and discover
you can't see out of the windshield
because of dried 'cow-juice',
and as likely as not
the windshield washer bottle would be empty,
you had other thoughts.
Make the best of it,
hang your head out the window if you can
and drive the worn path to the house
and wash her down.
I might add,
the cows had not the slightest interest
in following the truck to the top of the hill,
they just went about their business and ignored Old Blue.

Now Springy had a particular fondness for Old Blue.
Maybe it was because she had the pleasure
of riding in the double deck rack
with some thirteen other calves
all the way from Lake City, Florida to Brighton, Tennessee.
(Along with a bunch of chickens
that had the favored position of riding in the cab,
while the calves had to make do
with the hay padded long bed.)
And, Springy and the others
got another ride from Brighton
to the pasture in Brownsville.
At any rate anytime the truck was in the pasture,
they would investigate a
nd as I said before, give it a good tongue-licking.
However one day
when the truck was parked under a tree
down by the corral,
I had left the tail gate down
(supposedly that reduced air friction
and gave you better gas mileage,
a supposition that to my way of thinking
was never proven or disproven)
and I was doing something,
I don't remember what,
and when I returned to the truck,
there in the bed
standing there like a cat
who had caught the mouse,
was Springy.
At this time, she'd calved a couple of times
and was showing the mark of her genetics
with a heavy pendulous udder
and how she got in the truck is still a mystery.
The truck bed is at least
a couple feet off the ground
and the metal of the tailgate
is slick as glass.
Did she jump in?
That's my guess because the kids had
named her 'Springy' for a reason.
Well so much for how she got in,
now how to get her out.
She was facing forward
and much too big to easily turn around
(The bed's about four feet wide,
except between the wheel wells) ,
and Springy was a good eight hundred pounds
with a distance between front and rear legs
ofsome four feet or more.
Obviously, she wasn't going to turn around,
after all she was ready to go for a ride
and wanted to see where she was going.
Backing her out was possible
but having her step off the tailgate and
break a leg wasn't a good idea.
So what to do?
I decided that she got in
and she could just get out on her own.
So I cautiously drove the truck
over to the bank of the tank
(that's what we call dug ponds in Texas,
and I never could think of a better name
for the one on the farm.)
Then I backed up against the bank
so the tailgate was jammed against the dirt
and that's where I left the truck til the next day.
When I went down the next day
the cows had moved to another pasture,
Springy with them.
Don't know how she finally got out
but that's her story, not mine.