Porterville Recorder

This boy does love trucks

- BY HERB BENHAM Email contributi­ng columnist Herb Benham at benham.herb@gmail.com.

I have an old truck. I shouldn’t love that truck but I do even after paying for a flurry of new batteries and repairs when somebody, in an effort to steal it, tried to tear off the steering wheel.

Henry, aka Hurricane Henry, our 2-year-old grandson down the street, loves that truck too. One of his favorite things is to walk three blocks from his house, and, as he gets closer to the white truck, run while saying “tuck, tuck.”

He asks for the keys first because next to trucks, keys are gold. You have to be careful with keys because when his mother fell for his winsome personalit­y, he hurled them to the floor and broke a $200 key fob for their Ford Edge.

A boy really has to be fond of trucks in order to sit inside mine with its Gorilla-glued-in-place side mirror, fallen leaves strewn all over the seat, floor and headrest and Bakersfiel­d dust on the dash and steering wheel.

Joy abounds sitting in the driver’s seat, putting the wrong keys into the ignition, pushing the air conditioni­ng and heating buttons that wouldn’t work even if the truck was on, playing with the radio that doesn’t play either, turning the lights on and then forgetting to turn them off causing the battery to go dead, scrambling over the front seat into the back and pretending we’re on a road trip.

He can spend 15 minutes there, half an hour and he’d probably sleep in there if he could.

Henry makes clear all a man needs is a pair of yellow boots and a truck.

The white truck is good and has been a steady source of pleasure for Henry since he was old enough to crawl but it was overshadow­ed recently when the city repaved the alleys in our neighborho­od. The residents were happy with the prospect of new alleys but happy does not begin to describe Henry’s mood when an army of men and sweepers, milling machines, asphalt pavers, compactors, rollers and dump trucks. descended on and camped in the neighborho­od for the better part of a week.

Henry couldn’t wait to get up in the morning, finish his breakfast, go outside, walk around the neighborho­od and check the progress and wave to the men who were coming and going.

“Would you mind if we park one of our trucks on the side of your house?” asked one of the workers, one evening around sunset.

“Mind?” Lauren said. “You realize this will be the highlight of my son’s life.”

It might have been. I’m not sure Henry slept and if he did close his eyes, he may have done so dreaming about trucks.

Sleep or not, his love and enthusiasm may have helped shield the heavy equipment from theft or harm. They were intact and ready to go when the men showed up the next day. So was Henry. In his mind, he was part of the team.

A few days later his grandmothe­r gave him a book about trucks. He hasn’t had a big interest thus far in books but this one he wrapped his arms around. This was a book worth reading.

No fairy tales for him. No “Giving Tree” either. Henry wants to drive, wave goodbye and take to the open road.

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