Those Working Days

Those Working Days (…that I do not miss!)

Those Working Days Recalled…

November 2022

There sure were a lot of those working days! Somehow, we were blessed to be in our 21st year of retirement as I began writing this page, having sold our business in 2002.

During my childhood, I always wanted to become a truck driver. I don’t know where that notion came from, but it was pretty deeply embedded in me. I used to get in trouble in elementary school for drawing pictures of trucks in class.

Nikita ride on toy truck play delivery service - YouTube

But after graduating from high school there was no way for me to learn the trade. We didn’t know anyone who drove big rigs, and if they had truck schools back then, I never knew about them.

So, for about ten years I knocked around from one job I didn’t really care for to another. I was an apprentice carpenter, a warehouseman/furniture delivery driver of a box truck, a blue print machine operator, an assembler, a loan company employee  and eventually a loan office manager, a milker at a large dairy, and several other jobs. The last job I had before I finally learned to drive truck was selling door to door as a salesman for the Fuller Brush Company, and I did pretty well at that.

It  was during those days of knocking on doors and selling home goods that I met a fella at a truck lot in my neighborhood. He introduced me to a driver who agreed to teach me to drive logging trucks. I spent three months with him, learning to haul logs from the woods to the mills.

Zirkle Logger 2The is the old 1960s model Peterbilt on which I learned to drive big rigs. It was a rugged ol’ truck that spent much of its life climbing and descending and bouncing along logging roads in the woods of Northern Kalifornistan.  Photo C. 1971

Once I learned the trade and was driving for the log hauling outfit, it didn’t take long to tire of the that type of driving. It was dangerous, hard, dirty work. Too much of the driving was over muddy, rough, pot-holed, old logging roads in the forests of Northern Kalifornistan. It wasn’t even a year, as I recall, ’til I quit the log hauling outfit and went to work for a trucking outfit that hauled lumber and plywood from mills in Northern Kalifornistan to the Los Angeles area. I was off the logging roads and on asphalt and concrete, and I considered that a big improvement!

One of the rigs I drove hauling lumber from Northern to Southern Kalifornistan. Photo C. 1974

I enjoyed such work, and spent many days and nights on the road. When I found time to sleep, I often slept in the sleeper of my truck. My days off were usually one or two per week or perhaps it would be ten days or two weeks before I’d get a day or two off. I spent pretty much the decade of the 1970s driving trucks, and enjoyed my work. The only drawback was that driving big rigs and sleeping when I could was about all I did.

After a divorce in the mid 1970s, and being back on my own, I wanted some free time to socialize and find a new love. To that end, I began a lawn care business in 1980. The trucking outfit I drove for allowed me to slowly wind down my trucking days as I grew my lawn business. 

My first gardening truck before my sis came up with the name Earthcare. We were eventually incorporated as Earthcare Services, Inc. Photo C. 1981

Within a year I was doing yard maintenance full time and gave up the truck driving job entirely. Still, to this day, driving truck was my favorite job of all time even though the rewards of running my own businesses were much greater.

The lawn business grew and grew and became quite successful. My brother-in-law, John, joined me about a year or so after I was working full time in the business.

Click on any image to enlarge and read the caption. Double click the ⓘ to enlarge:

As the years rolled by, I grew the business to include a sales business of commercial lawnmowers, and they sold like hotcakes. The higher end Walker mower models I sold back then now sell for nearly $20,000.

At a mower shop in Modesto, CA where we purchased some of our lawn maintenance power equipment, the owner showed me a Walker Mower brochure. Max Walker, father of Bob and Dean Walker, had visited that shop trying to sign them up as dealers. The owner declined the dealership, but fortunately, he showed the brochure to me.

The moment I first saw a photo of a Walker mower in that brochure, I knew we had to have one. I was very impressed by its design and knew it would be a real profit maker for the gardening business.

Once I was aware of the Walker mowers, I contacted the company president, Bob Walker, at the factory in Colorado and soon had a deal to buy one mower at dealer cost, with the understanding that I would sell another within a certain time period. I don’t recall whether it was one or three months. (It’s been well over 40 years ago!) Our agreement was that if I didn’t sell a Walker within the time period, I’d send the factory the difference between dealer cost and the retail price of our first Walker Mower, and would not become a dealer. But I soon sold one to the city parks department where we lived, and our Walker Mower dealership was born!

Click on any image to enlarge and read the caption. Double click the ⓘ to enlarge:

After our first two Walkers were shipped from the factory in Colorado, I began hauling them myself. This Chevy Luv and small trailer was the first rig I used, and I was limited to hauling just three mowers. This ex-trucker thoroughly enjoyed the cross country drives to and from the factory. As sales increased, so did the size of the rigs I drove – and of course the number of Walkers sold. (Photo C. 1983)

I had several Walker hauling rigs over the years as the business grew. This GMC diesel ¾ ton and 30′ trailer was the last rig I used. Count the Walkers in the above photo – I could load 10 Walkers on this rig! I would haul three or four loads each year. During the last year or two, I had the mowers shipped by truck – I’d had enough of driving through the occasional snow storm! (Photo C. 1996)

Our Walker Mower Store

Click on any image to enlarge to read the caption. Double click the ⓘ to enlarge:

Lavonne joined me in the business in 1990 when we married. I stole her from an attorney, as she was a legal secretary. The attorney just couldn’t accept that she had quit working for him and joined a lowly gardener. She was a boon to the business as she brought along her wonderful office skills. We recall her often frustrating efforts in putting our books on Peachtree accounting software.

This photo was taken at our home office, although she put in many hours at the business office, as well. She was a very helpful and profitable addition to the business as it ran smoother with her gentle touch.

I was right; fishing sure beat working! Here I am aboard FishWisher IV on Suisun Bay, at ease while awaiting the soft bite of a sturgeon. The rod sits on the transom in a balance beam. Life is good!

Suisun Bay at sunset, where I spent many a day and night over the years. It is about as peaceful a spot as can be found. I pulled my share of mighty sturgeon from this same spot.

One of many sturgeon I caught on Suisun Bay over the years, and this was one of the largest.

I gave up fishing and sold my last boat in 2013. I was getting a bit old for all the work required maintaining boats and spending days and nights on the water, not to  mention the effort involved fighting big, angry sturgeon up to 100 pounds. As of this writing, December of 2022, we still have the motorhome and even it’s getting to be a bit much to maintain. Life continues to be good – even as we approach 80 years of age!

2 Responses to Those Working Days

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dale You tell a great story of life. Craig 12/2022

  2. FishWisher says:

    Hi Craig –
    Thanks for the visit. I’m pleased to know you liked my Working Days story. I’m looking forward to reading your retirement story – but you have to retire first!
    – Dale

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