Heading north from CR after work, I glanced over to the southbound lanes and spotted four logging trucks, alone and single file, deadheadin’home, their log trailers on the truck (is there a proper term for that, Ernie?). I know the song “Convoy” made it on to Eric V. Kirk’s response to richard’s most disliked songs list but if my Mark had been with me, he would have joined me in…. “Looks like we got us a CON-VOY”.
We were married in 1975. I was just a child. No really, I wasn’t “legal” until we’d been married for a month. Before you presume, if you know Monica and can do math, you’ll know I wasn’t even in the “family way”. We drove across country so Mark could work at his dad’s diesel shop in South Carolina. We were there for seven months and money was plenty tight. We had cable spools for tables and some hand-me-down vinyl rocker. It’s hard to imagine in this age of cell phones and an inability to be without a telephone for ten minutes but what we didn't have was a phone. We did, however, have a CB radio in our Dodge maxi-van.
I don’t know if CBs were ever as popular up here without an interstate nearby but Camden was right off I-20 in South Carolina. Everyone had a CB in 1975. We were the Freedom Flyer. The only other “handle” I remember is a guy named “Stump Puller”. If you wanted to get hold of someone, you climbed in your truck and called for “breaker breaker one nine”…..one-nine, trucker talk for channel 19. You'd get a "go ahead, breaker".... to which you'd ask if your buddy "had his ears on". No privacy but odds were you'd find who you were looking for.
When we headed back home to California, we came across Interstate 10. We had our CB. We would flash our lights to let a passing truck know there was room to merge back in. He’d flash his lights, often hundreds of them surrounding the box and cab, in thanks. We’d monitor Channel 19 to find out when “Smokey” was on the prowl or “in the air”. But the ultimate “Convoy” moment was traveling one night, somewhere in Texas, listening to raunchy jokes crackling in the speakers from truckers traveling the same road. Eventually, as we approached the New Mexico boarder, one voice asked where the “front door” was of “this here convoy”? -- the front door being the lead truck. The front door was in Arizona. The “back door” was somewhere behind us in Texas. We, as well as probably more than a hundred trucks were “sittin’ in the rockin’ chair”….filling up the interstate and chiming in with the mile markers we passed.
I haven't heard Convoy in years but….when a clip of C.W McCall was on VH1 last week, damned if we didn’t remember the words. "Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck...."