"The Forty"

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Our 1940 Chevrolet Pickup - One Owner

Stay tuned - more pictures to follow! Updates in RED

In the fall of 1940, my Dad decided that the '35 Chevy Coupe and trailer weren't filling the bill on the ranch in southeastern Colorado, so he dropped into Ray Chevrolet in Lamar on one of his weekly trips into town. He was actually looking for a '41, but there were none in stock. There was, however, a brand new '40 available, so he left the coupe and $700 with Bob Ray, and drove the pickup home.

This is the story of The Forty.

He said it was so new that "the paint stunk as it burned off of the engine."  Since he didn't need it any longer, the salesman gave Dad his salesman's truck manual for the '40's, which I've still got, along with the owner's manual. He also told Dad the The Forty would go faster than the '35 Chevy Coupe he traded for it. This was not true; the coupe would do over 80 mph. 

Cousin Judy with <I>The Forty</I> standing guard - 1947 Cousin Yvonne - 1947. More cousins - Dec 1947
Cousin Judy with The Forty
standing guard -1947
Cousin Yvonne - 1947. (Judy
is there, behind the ink splotch.)
A row of cousins - 1947.
(Try that with a new pickup) I
wonder where the cat's going.

Then, in 1947 my Mom came along, and in 1952 I came along. Although we had a car, and other trucks came and went, for some reason The Forty was the favored vehicle, and sort of became a member of the family. From the time I could stand up, I usually stood in the seat between my Mom and Dad. (Infant seat? What's that?) Although I have no memory of it, I'm told that the only time I came to grief was one time when my Dad slammed on the brakes, causing me to collect a shiner on the gear shift knob. Why did he stop so fast? He saw a leather binocular case laying in the road - turned out it was empty.

Mom on the tractor - The Forty in the background - Aug 1949 Dad on the tractor - The Forty in the background - Aug 1949 '32 Model D John Deere - abt 1949
My Mom on the tractor with
The Forty doing Field Duty
- Aug 1949. That's her Dad
behind the tractor.
Dad on the tractor with
more of The Forty visable -
Aug 1949. That's still
Grandpa behind the tractor.
'32 Model D John Deere -
abt. 1949 (I know The Forty
isn't in it, but it's a cool
picture!

My sister on her 3rd birthday -1957- Pickups in the background My sister on her 6th birthday -1960- Pickups in the background
My sister on her 3rd birthday
-1957- The Forty is one of
the pickups in the background.
My sister on her 6th birthday
-1960- The Forty is in the
background.

By the time I was 10, I was becoming interested in more than just riding, so when we were on county roads, Dad would slide over to the left, and I would steer as we drove. Then, one day, he stopped The Forty, and we changed places. He coached me though clutching and shifting - the 4-speed, non-synchro transmission - and, with a few jerks and a couple of grinds, we were off. From then on, when we left the paved roads, I drove.

The Forty followed me from Colorado to California, then on to Washington, and, most recently, to Medford, OR. It was driven regularly until the early 80s, when it became kind of "extra," and was parked. (I'm REALLY paying for that now!)

Yes, old memories are the best when they're yours.  I recently took the gas tank out and found a couple of tools and a handful of expended .22 brass mixed in with almost 60 years of dirt occumulated between the tank and the seat frame.  I remember many times when that brass could have fallen in there.  (The dirt was apparently the only thing keeping gas in the tank.  It's rusted so badly it practically fell apart.)

I also remember when the tie rods ends were replaced: in 68 or 69 - after one end of the steering arm fell off just as my Dad turned into our driveway.  Mortals cannot pick that kind of timing!

When my Dad died in 1994, one of the pictures at his memorial service was of him climbing out of the pickup after coming home from work sometime in 62.  My sister and I had each gotten the first camera of our very own, and wanted to get a candid shot of him as he got out.  We weren't quick enough on the trigger, so the picture is acutally a pose. 

"Hello!" Home from a hard day's work - 1962.
"Hello" - Home from a hard
day's work - 1962.

I ran up on a big dry spell (an old farmer's term) for pictures. I know I've got some more, but I haven't found them yet. So... We skip to the 80's.

The Forty behind my '78 Gold Wing - 1985
The Forty behind my '78 Gold Wing - 1985.
(The Wing - and the other vehicles - are long gone.)