Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 20, 2014

Diversity in any profession can build strong relationships


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — I can’t remember his name now because I’ve traveled so many miles since I last saw him, but during my trucking days I used to run a lot with “The One P-A Diesel Dog,” the only black trucker who was driving truck out of the Washington, Pa., area at that time. We used to load together out of Washington Steel, and run together out to Chicago and other places in the Midwest.

Diesel Dog was a big dude who drove a GMC tractor with a 12-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine and an Allison transmission. He called it “the Buzzin’ Dozen,” and it was a powerful rig for the time. The 12-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine could hold power on the hills. My 270 Cummins Diesel with the 16-speed Spicer transmission could outrun the Buzzin’ Dozen in the flat lands, but I had to work a lot of gears just to enjoy the view of his tail lights when we ran in the mountains.

One night when we stopped at the Shenandoah Truck Stop in Ohio to axle out before crossing the Zanesville scales, Diesel Dog said that he heard on the CB radio that an Ohio State Trooper pulled me over for going too slow. “I heard that the trooper asked, ‘Can’t you run any faster than that?’ and that you answered, ‘I can, but Ace Doran has a policy that you can’t leave the truck while you’re on duty.’ That’s what I heard.”

It was an old trucker’s joke, but I decided to move it into “the Dozens” just for fun, so I replied, “Ever since I was a little boy growing up in a log cabin out in the woods, I was dreamin’ about a day when I could be as fast as yo’ momma.” He said, “Mommas are off limits, but since you’re white, I didn’t expect you to know that.”

It was on. Diesel Dog was a ratchet jaw on the radio anyway, but now that we were engaged in a cross-country game of the Dozens, about all I did was spend my time thinking up ways to insult Diesel Dog. When we were trucking together, it was obvious that he had been working on his insults as well. When we were waiting to get loaded at a steel mill or truckin’ down I-70, we were at it. Obviously, because we used the CB radio to communicate, most of our exchanges were free of obscenities — but we both knew how to cuss when we were alone.

I guess the reason I can’t recall his real name is because the Diesel Dog found a steady run down South pullin’ for a company that paid a higher return to the truck, so he picked up and left with only a short notice. We said our good-byes at a vacant lot on Jefferson Avenue in Washington, Pa., and that was the last I saw him or heard him on the CB. We said that we’d probably bump into each other again, but now he’s just a part of my memories like a lot of this stuff that I write about in these columns.

He was the only African American trucker that I ran with. Back in those days — the early 1970s — it seemed like there were more lady truckers than there were black truckers. It was kind of a closed society, and when I didn’t hear the Dog on the CB radio any more, I knew there was something missing in my life. I missed talking with my friend.

I truly feel as though God has blessed me to have many different friends of different races, faiths, genders, sexual orientations and nationalities. During his presentation at the Mercer County Branch NAACP Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., luncheon, Dr. Chaun Stores talked about the need to spend time regularly in self-reflection and answer the questions of how you can become a better person or a better friend. He said that he believed that Dr. King would also recommend that for everyone.

My great-great grandfather Dr. John S. Eagleson was a Presbyterian minister in southwestern Pennsylvania, and was a member of the board of trustees of Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pa., in 1865 when Jefferson and Washington colleges merged to form Washington & Jefferson College — the college where Dr. Stores now works as director of assessment and institutional research. My great-great grandfather preached on the topics of abolition of slavery and for women’s rights from the pulpit, and from what I read in the pamphlet that the Presbyterian Church published after his death in 1873, he was successful in both respects.

After Barbara Lewis told me a little about Chaun’s success at Princeton Senior High School, I remembered him from those days. At the luncheon I said simply that my great grandfather would be proud to know that you were serving in an important position at a college that he, too, served about a century and a half earlier. Self-reflection is always a good exercise.

Bill Archer is senior editor at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at barcher@bdtonline.com.