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A Truckload of Memories: The 1950 Dodge Ram

Bought new in 1950, this Dodge Ram is still trucking for the family that purchased it—with a grandchild at the wheel!

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MIllie's granddaughter Jaclyn with the restored DodgePhoto: Courtesy of Millie Clark

Our family’s 1950 Dodge Ram

In January 1950, my parents purchased a shiny, new half-ton Dodge Ram pickup truck from the dealership in Comber, Ont. I was too young to appreciate the details of their acquisition, but my parents never bought anything on credit, so I am certain they owned the truck outright when they drove it off the lot. They always took excellent care of their farm equipment and the new truck was no exception. A trip to North Bay may have been the only time it was not parked securely in our garage for the night.

On inclement days, the six to 10 public school kids living along our road would pile into one of the parents’ cars, four wide and two deep, for the short ride to the rural one-room school house. To make it possible for my parents to take their turn, Dad put up sides on the bed of the Dodge and covered it with a tarp. Most of us preferred to ride in the covered bed than in the cab. There was no heat, of course, but everyone enjoyed the novelty of sitting out in the truck bed rather than in a cramped family car.

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Millie's dad (Jim Vinter, white hat), grandfather Earl Roadhouse and great uncle William Thackwray alongside the 1950 Dodge RamPhoto: Courtesy of Millie Clark

Brought back to life

Like many other children, I learned to drive even before I obtained my learner’s permit. I was always ready to help Mom or Dad, especially if the task required me to be behind the wheel of the Dodge. By the time Dad retired from farming, my parents had purchased a car, but they still drove the truck, often decorating it with paper flowers and streamers as they joined in local parades. On occasion, a bystander would call out, “Hey, I remember driving to school in the back of that truck!”

After Dad passed away, Mom couldn’t bring herself to part with the Dodge, so it was moved to a shed behind the barn, where it remained for nearly 20 years. When my husband Tom and I retired in 1993, the truck was still in the shed. Although covered with dust and without the shine that Dad had so devotedly maintained, it still looked handsome and dignified after 43 years. We decided we would restore the vehicle, but also pledged to keep everything as original as possible. With work and quite a bit of coaxing, the engine struggled back to life; the wheels were turning again and fresh paint in the original blue made Dad’s pride and joy look and act like new, albeit with a rattle or two. Soon, just as my parents had done years before, we joined in local parades along with the children riding their decorated bicycles, the firemen on their polished trucks and the farmers in their air-conditioned tractors and combines.

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Millie and the brand new Dodge Ram in 1950Photo: Courtesy of Millie Clark

Generational shift

A few years ago, our granddaughter Jaclyn began to show an interest in the truck. She was always eager to go for a ride around town or in the parades, waving like royalty at the bystanders along the route. She patiently explained to her younger siblings why it was okay to ride three-people wide on the bench seat without a seatbelt, how air conditioning was obtained by manually cranking down the windows and why there was no DVD player or cup holders. Whenever she came near the truck her smile was as bright as the polish she had put on the vehicle. When she started high school, she announced that she wanted to pursue a career as a mechanic and began to stream her courses accordingly. This year she will obtain her driver’s license, driving her parent’s fully automatic van, but, like her grandmother at the same age, she has already learned the combination of the heel-toe starter on the Dodge, as well as how to use the clutch and “three-on-the-tree” stick shift.

As Jaclyn continues her studies, we are confident the truck will continue to be cared for within our family. I can only imagine my parents’ delight if they could see the enthusiasm that their great-granddaughter has for the soon-to-be 70-year-old truck. When she is ready, the truck will be hers. Tom and I hope to someday be at her side as she proudly drives her very own 1950 family-owned original Dodge Ram truck in the local parades.

Next, read about the Model A Ford restoration that took 40 years to complete!

Originally Published in Our Canada