August 28, 2007
West Green -- Most people think of a family heirloom as a special piece of jewelry, book, quilt or other object passed along from generation to generation, but have you thought that an old truck would qualify?
A family in 10 Country faced almost impossible odds of getting a special piece of their history restored, and even thought about giving up on the project.
"I'm writing to you today about a very unusual truck and story," says Justin Justice as he works with his wife on a very special letter at their dining room table.
Justin knows the hard way that sometimes a simply worked e-mail takes lots of time to get just right.
"I started the letter three or four times," says Justin. He composed a grateful son's appeal to total strangers to do something special for his dad that he could never do.
"Always wanted to fix daddy's old truck, wanted him to have something he's proud of," says Justin.
It was no ordinary truck, but a truck that lived an exceptionally hard life hauling trees to market, 80,000 pounds at a time. The truck worked hard, traveling about one-point-three million miles, so far.
"It shortens the life of a truck when you put it in the woods," says Mike Justice, Justin's dad as he stood near a forest as a special loader put cut pine trees on a trailer.
Their 1964 Mack, B-61 semi-truck, purchased new more than four decades ago and sometimes treated like a dog, pulled loaded trailers. "It's just amazing," says Mike.
But, heart felt wishes can come true if someone asks, and Justin asked Country Music Television (CMT) network's program "Trick My Truck" to select their special truck for a free makeover, called tricking.
"I couldn't believe it, but thank the Lord," says Mike when he heard by accident from one of his young granddaughters that Justin had e-mailed the network appealing his case.
It was a long shot. "They interviewed over 300 trucks [owners from] all over the United States," said Mike about their trip to Joplin, Missouri where the selected trucks get a cosmetic makeover.
The family's beloved logging truck got selected, one of only 10 trucks picked for the new TV season.
They would make four trips to the mid-west, almost a thousand miles each way. The third trip he left the truck for its makeover.
Mike called occasionally to check on it and tried to find out what they were doing.
It didn't work. They didn't tell him a thing for four months, but he had suspicions.
"I figured a lot of chrome," says Mike. He was right. Expensive chrome parts everywhere- battery box, fuel tanks, eight-inch exhausts pipes, and a surprise.
"Wasn't expecting purple-deep lilac pearl," says Mike, who hoped they would paint it red to match his other working trucks.
When he got inside the truck, he wasn't expecting something else either.
"I was expecting a bed in the sleeper," says Mike. Instead, he got a model train set with a sawmill scene complete with a mountain, along with a mirror in the shape of a saw blade overhead.
So, why did the group decide on a sawmill theme? Well, it goes back to the family. At one time it owned four sawmills.
Mike finally had his dream truck with everything bright, shiny and new, quite a switch from a truck they took to Joplin, Missouri to audition for the show.
"It's like winning the lottery," says Mike.
What will he do with the truck that was once on its last tires?
"More or less a show truck now," says Mike.
It shows a person's faith in dreams.
"It's been a journey," says Justin.
A journey that will keep on truckin'.
You can watch the complete makeover of the Justice's truck on CMT Friday night, August 31, from 9:30 to 10 PM.