“My mom used to ask me what I was going to do when I grew up, and I told her, ‘I’m going to drive them big trucks and fix broken cars.’”
That conversation took place between Dennis Brown and his mother when he was in kindergarten.
In all the car stories and their collectors I’ve written about on these pages, I don’t recall any of them identifying their lifelong passion before they entered the first grade.
But Dennis came by his attachment helping his father work on big trucks. “I was fascinated by the big cattle rigs – bull haulers they called them – and dreamed of having one of my own someday.”
That day finally came around when he was out of high school and discovered that the city’s major propane dealer, Emmitt Godfrey, had a Mack truck stored in his garage as a backup in case his main delivery truck was out of service.
“It was a 1977 MAC RS 700L Westcoast model, and I had to have it.
“I told him several times that I wanted to buy that truck. The day came when I approached him one more time and asked him if he was ready to sell it to me.” He replied, Dennis remembers, ‘Dennis, I know you want that truck, and if you bring me $19,000 by 2:30 today, it’s yours.’”
Dennis, then 19 years old, didn’t hesitate, “I shot out of there, came back with the money, and it was mine and virtually new since it had spent all its life in Emmitt’s garage.
“I put more than a million miles on that truck in the dirt hauling business I had built that ultimately became an operation with 16 Mack trucks in service.”
That bit of Dennis’ history brings us up to now. Dennis acquired the 1960 Mack featured here about six years ago from a Fort Worth friend and he has put it to use in community service.
Most recently it was a crowd pleaser in the city’s annual Fourth of July Parade. Decorated to the hilt in the nation’s prime colors, he trailered his fellow board of director members of the non-profit organization, Men Serving God, along the parade route to cheers throughout.
He piped in patriotic music, provided seating for everyone, and even managed to set up an air conditioner for his passengers – likely the only such comfort afforded by any of the other floats on that 100-degree July day.
The big crowd got to see the only 673-cubic-inch Thermodyne diesel engine at work in the parade pulling its guests throughout downtown and using only a couple of its 10-speed duplex transmission gears to make the trip.
The Mack was first delivered from the assembly line at the company’s Allentown, Pa., facility to the massive Armour & Company meat packing plant in Williamsport. Armour used it to haul its processed leather shoe soles to customers throughout the country.
The Mack B Series, like this one, was touted in 1960 by the well-known company in its promotional materials as, “the only completely new line of heavy-duty trucks developed by any manufacturer since before WWII. New from stem to stern, they have set a new standard in design, performance, and reliability.”
Considering that it’s in full service with Dennis in the driver’s seat some 62 years later, such claims seem to have been proven out.
Dennis currently has a dozen of these trucks stored on his three and a half country acres, and I asked what his plans were for them now that his lifelong passion seems fully realized.
“I’m going to restore all of them when I retire to keep me busy and out of trouble,” he replied with a big chuckle – just what he told his mom he was going to do some time ago.