When I hired in this outfit, there were a lot of things they didn’t tell me. They didn’t tell me I’d be ridin’, ropin’, and brandin’ too. If the agreement started with “once upon a time,” I might have suspected “butcher, baker, candlestick maker.”
As the owner, I make the decisions. That means I make the initial visit and bid the project. Next, I return with plan and presentation. After that, the crew will be with me to install and/or tear out.
As we progress through a landscaping installation, loads of trash may come out and loads of soil, mulch (or gravel) and plants will go in.
This will usually entail a half dozen trips with a dump truck at the minimum. When you see me on the road or in a yard, I’m driving one of several red, one-ton Dodge dump trucks and usually pulling a pup.
My dad, Ed Wooten, was a trucker. He drove truck for moving highway construction machinery from place to place for 30 years. He also was self-employed hauling lumber for 20 years. He always said, “If a truck ain’t red – it ought to be.” That’s the way we roll.
One of Dad’s best lumber contracts was hauling red oak F.A.S. 4/4 random width from Louisa, KY to Wooster, Ohio. He would go down to Luther Wooten’s sawmill in Louisa and come back to Minford in a day – go to sleep early and get up at 3:00 A.M to drive to Wooster. At that time there was no I – 71 or 270. He would go up 23 and go through Columbus on 23 (High Street). This was the way you got through Columbus then and if you were haulin’ 6 tons of R.O. Lumber, the time to do it was early before everyone else is out there,
To get on up to Wooster, we would take Route 3 or Cleveland Avenue through Mount Vernon and on to Wooster. I remember that stretch as being as foggy as it gets. Dad would have the 12 and 14 foot lumber on top of the stack and extending out over the cab. This would hold the front end down coming out of those hills and grades around Louisa and it kept the fog lights on the road at Mount Vernon.
The red oak went into U.S. Postal trucks in the box bed. A company named Gerten-Schlager was buying the lumber and fabricating the mail truck box frames in Wooster. That went on for 10 years. A guy named Harley was Dad’s contact then. I stopped in Gerten – Schlager’s last year, when Laura and I were in Wooster visiting our little sister Mary Ellen (Diehl) Senger. Mike and Mary have lived in Wooster for a long time and we always enjoy visiting them. When it comes to little sisters, life has dealt me a great hand.
These are just some of the reasons that I spend half my time in a dump truck. I think it just comes so natural and I enjoy it so much that I want to be the driver. Besides that, my name’s on the door.
You may call this dump truck driver mentality but I say it’s like my dad once told me early on in those Wooster adventures. He said, “Roll the window down, what do you hear?” Well, about then I thought I heard wind in my face. He said, “Listen to those ol’ tires. They’re sayin’ , ‘Make ya money, make ya money, make ya money.”
Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.