Friday, January 18, 2013

Sepia Saturday: 2013 January 19th, Uncles and Old Trucks

The prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday suggests 'waggons' and 'aunties.'  In my world, Uncle Clive and trucks - or cars - seems to be a close variation of this theme.  I am pleased to introduce my Uncle Clive and a few of his beloved "wheels."



1934, Clive McPherson
(1910-1980)
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives


The McPherson brothers, Harold (my dad), and my uncles Clive,Allen, and Ralph, came of age with that infernal internal combustion machine. If it had an engine and  wheels, they took it apart, put it together;  improvised, drove, raced and took daring-do chances with this new plaything of theirs.  In 1938,  my  uncles, Clive (age, 28) and Allen (age, 21), were involved in trucking accidents. The wrecked truck shown below was well photographed but with little information about it, other than a scribbled date. However,  from a description of the incidents in a letter written by my Uncle Ralph, it appears that the incident was on involving my Uncle.  

[From a letter written by my Uncle Ralph, which included the truck wrecks and some other driving experiences:]  Clive quit them (Zuckerman's) in 34 & worked in Klamath F as a mechanic at the Chrysler garages while there the garage entered a racing club out at the fair grounds in Altamont. Clive was in 8 races & won & of them & as the winner was supposed to get 100.00 a race, but I don’t think he got any or it. There was always some excuse, After that him, I & Harold were in the trucking business. Our only luck was a lot of Grief, got out of that business when I started to drive Gasoline transport for Red Cockerill & Clive was hired as mechanic. Just before that we hauled some timbers for Cockerill from Wildwood to Lewiston over in the Trinitys & that's when the universal drive shaft broke, Clive, truck & all went over the 400’ cliff into hayfork creek. The truck was a total wipe out but the Ins co fixed it back up & the 1st load after that Allen who altho just a kid was always rearing to drive started to drive the load to Lewiston. 

The 1st steep hill the universal broke & he bailed out right away, anyway it rolled back & crosswise to the highway & flipped over on its back. The chains didn’t break but there she was with all the wheels sticking straight in the air, so after getting a new joint & looking them over we found out that all the universals were factory spot welded & wouldn’t stand any strain. So that ended the timber hauling. Clive & I worked for Cockerill till the fall of 38 when we both went out & drove truck out at Shasta Dam. That was quite an experience. There were 24 contractors working on the dam at that time so trucks were like ants running all over those hills out there & traffic was so thick they had watchmen on every curve. The outfit we went to work for was to take the top off of a hill & fill a canyon across he river from the dam. They had the shovel on the top of the hill which was real steep. These trucks held 7 yds & you drove straight up to the shovel & backed down to the edge of the canyon close enough for the load to be dumped over the edge. Clive got along fine but he was a better driver than I, I got loaded & went to back down & you couldn’t see over the top or around the sides, The only thing you could lean way over and look underneath & the boss standing down there with his watch in his hands & he said you’ll have to do better than that , it took you 3 minutes to make the trip. The only thing about that job was the gas co came out & filled & serviced everything about an hour before quitting time including all the cars so we would just have a gallon or so in the tank every day & each drove a car out. I didn’t get fired but after a couple of weeks we both quit...

1938 Clive's Truck Wreck
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives



1938 Truck Wreck - Another View
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives



1938 Same Truck Wreck - Head-On View
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Clive's brothers and sisters always said of him, "if it had wheels, Clive would drive or race it."  A different kind of Clive's driving abilities is shown below in the 1936 picture of Clive racing in Klamath Falls. His brother Ralph wrote that Clive was in eight races and won all of them. Supposedly, the prize money was$100 a race, but according to Ralph, Clive never received any prize money. Knowing my Uncle Clive,  money was not the reason  he raced.

1936, Clive McPherson Racing No. 9
Klamath Falls, Oregon
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives\


Happy driving, Uncle Clive.



~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

21 comments:

  1. Wow and double wow. The photos of the wreck are amazing, and it's easy to see why still today people driving along will rubberneck at a wreck in progress. The story of your Uncle Clive is likewise interesting - don't we all admire a daredevil?

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    1. My sentiments exactly. This set of 3 pictures has always been some of my favorites --- then he was a favored uncle. Always amazed that he just walked away from this wreck.

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  2. Great back story to these photos - it's fortunate you have his reminiscences to go with them. Thanks for sdharing.

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    1. My Uncle Ralph's letters have been a wonderful source of history --- and sometimes I am fortunate enough to have pictures to go with the written word.

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  3. Your uncle Clive should have started a demolition business! But I guess he was lucky to get out of these wrecks alive. The wrecks reminded me of similar ones I saw in the Saudi desert. Whenever a driver had an accident there, he fled. And besides, at the time there were no repair shops in Saudi Arabia. You just bought a new one...

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    1. To my knowledge, this was the only vehicle accident in which my Uncle Clive was involved. He really was a good driver and logged many thousands of miles driving truck -- plus regular family-type driving. Thanks for reading.

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  4. I was expecting the worst when you said the truck went over the edge; anyone seeing those wreck photos would have expected the driver to have been badly hurt.

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    1. It was amazing that he wasn't seriously injured --- and I don't even remember him ever talking about the accident -- just my Uncle Ralph's written description.

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  5. Oh my goodness, he was lucky to live through that wreck. Very interesting; especially about helping to build the dam at Lake Shasta.

    Kathy M.

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  6. That's an incredible wreck to walk away from. The "live" part of Clive
    must have been a charm. Great descriptions of work on the Shasta Dam.

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  7. All I can say is ouch! What great information you supplied and the coolest of wreck photos ever!

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  8. The truck looks like it collapsed with exhaustion.

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  9. Wonderful. Uncle Clive could have driven some of those wrecks into the local Sculpture Park and put them on show. A perfect representation of life in the modern fast lane. Great post Joan, thanks.

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  10. My goodness, I'm still amazed that Clive walked away from that wreck. What an interesting family archive to have.

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  11. Men's keen interest on wheels and machinery fascinates me. Those truck wrecks are amazing. Thanks for showing them and thanks for dropping by my nook.

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  12. Ouch! They were lucky escapes! Some men are just vehicle-obsessed: my cousin was always one of them.

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  13. My grandpa! I never knew of this story. What fun to find and read your blog.

    Jennifer McPherson-Urquidi

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  14. My grandpa! What fun to find and read these stories...this is the first time I heard this story of my Poppa! He was quite a guy!

    Jenny

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    1. Jenny, for your information, I (and my sister Sue) are working on getting the book of Uncle Ralph's letters for publication. We were hoping for a February date to send it to the publisher, but with my accident causing some delay, it will probably in March -- I hope. There are lots of stories about the McPherson's and Ralph's family(i.e., the family of my dad Harold and Uncle Clive).

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  15. Thank you for doing this for our family! Is there any help that you need at this late stage? I'm really looking forward to the stories in the book. I do remember uncle Ralph. Did he live in San Diego? That is where I recall meeting him when I was a kid. I hope your recovery goes well. Do you happen to know anything current on aunt Verna?

    Stay well and take it easy with that leg of yours!

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    1. Ralph lived in Escondido during the time that he wrote the letters. I know at one point he lived in ElCajon with Aunt Verna, but not sure where he lived in between those two times --- probably someplace in close proximity to San Diego. He was a wonderful storyteller -- and I think he would be surprised that he is our family historian.

      Aunt Verna and and Aunt Lorraine are doing pretty well and both live in Redding. Cousin Jerry is planning a reunion the first weekend in April at his ranch. We had Thanksgiving with them, but haven't seen them since. However, Sue and I are in regular contact with them--phone and email.

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