Runaway Truck, AppleImages



Daddy & I and the Big Truck

I raced across the porch and jumped up into the big truck. Daddy and I headed up through Harrisburg past the street where sometimes we picked up big farm equipment like a tractor or combine. Today the truck pointed north toward the mountains in coal country.

We climbed the last big mountain. Daddy backed the truck bed right up under the coal chute. He hopped out while I knelt backward on the truck seat to look out the back window. Then down came the chute and with it the loud rumble of coal. The hard dark black kind that looked almost wet.

Soon we eased out onto the road again heading back down the steep, winding mountain road. I heard the metal brake pedal hit the floorboards. Suddenly daddy grabbed me, sat me on his lap and said, “Steer.”

Tons of coal pushed us down the mountain, faster and faster. Daddy used both hands to pull up on the emergency brake to slow us down, then release. And so we went fast down the mountain. Me steer, steer, steering while daddy pull, pull, pulling up on the brake – then release.

We finally sailed off onto the emergency road, tires kicking up stones before we came to a stop at the bottom of the mountain.

All was quiet. I don’t remember a word spoken, but I did have a big smile on my face. My little 7-year-old hands helped daddy bring the big truck safely down off the high mountain. The truck crawled back through Harrisburg, past the Dairy Queen.  No 10c ice cream cone with a curl on top for me this time.

At home, I watched daddy from behind the front porch door. He bent over the coal mountain on top of the truck scooping one shovel full at a time down the chute, through a square hole in the porch floor and into the cellar coal bin below.

We would be toasty warm in the cold months ahead.


Jean Longenecker, first grade



My sister, Jean Longenecker Fairfield, told this tale to her grandchildren not long ago. This served as a rehearsal for the post you are reading today.

Thank you, Jean, for prompting readers to recall scary times in their own childhood,