Bill Packard commentary

Chapter 1: Lobster to Chicken

Mon, 01/30/2023 - 9:30pm

In the current environment of almost everyone being angry, I cannot get excited about having a conversation about current events. But, I thought people might find it interesting to hear what truck-driving life was like back in the day. If there’s positive feedback, I’ll continue the journey, but if not we’ll leave it at this.

I was going through some personal issues after having a business and just decided to check out  and ride off into the sunset in a truck.  I had what at the time was a Class 2 license, which meant I could drive a straight truck, no trailer.  

Graffam Brothers was looking for a driver and I got the job.  Five days a week to Logan, then to the fish pier, then up to Chelsea to load packaging to bring back home. This was my introduction to trucking. 

At first it was a little uncomfortable being on the road alone, but I soon realized there was a whole supportive community out there that I never knew existed.  

One night, I was hearing a strange noise in the running gear of the truck coming back from Boston. I was running with a PenBay Transport driver so I wasn’t really alone.  

At the Hampton tolls, the truck motor blew up. The PenBay driver towed me through the toll booth and a wrecker was called. The truck was towed and the tow truck driver gave me a ride to Dudley’s Diner, where I connected with a driver who was going to Portland.  

Before we got to the former 6A exit, he was on the CB radio and found me a ride to Rockport.  That driver got me to Rockport in the middle of the night and I was ready to go back to Boston the next day.

This was the beginning of my understanding of the tightness of the trucking community. The Graffam Brothers deal was great. Good people to work for and it was fun to be in Boston five days a week. I was single and would sometimes take a female friend on the trip and after the work was done, the Hilltop Steakhouse would let me park at the loading dock while we enjoyed dinner.  

One trip, I picked up a lady who had flown into the airport Hilton and needed a ride back to the Midcoast.  I had a drop at Jimmy’s restaurant down on the fish pier and she was helping me drag empty lobster crates past the people waiting in line in her designer clothes. That drew a lot of strange looks.

There were so many people that I knew. Some I actually met, but many I only knew from CB conversations. Other drivers with base stations that would stay up at night to talk to drivers.  

We were not very woke back then. One of my favorite drivers was part French from up in the County. He played a wicked harmonica and his handle was Superfrog!  

Heartbreaker was another lobster hauler from the Midcoast and we would often have dinner together at the Bel-Aire diner in Peabody, Mass., before heading home. 

One night, during a snowstorm, we got invited to a house in Warren for cookies or brownies or some other sweets.  It was pretty neat to have someone in their home bake goodies for us. I never felt alone. 

Many nights I would meet the R. C. Moore drivers headed south from Waldoboro and we would always tease each other. They would run together and it was said that the front truck knew how to get where they were going, the last truck knew how to get home and the trucks in the middle knew all the good places to stop.  

I made up a silly song that I would sing when I saw the four white marked lights on the bumper coming southbound about how I wished I was a dumbduck hauler.  They hauled chickens and that’s what we called them. 

Funny thing: When I started pulling trailers and Richard had pulled out of Maplewood Poultry, I was then a dumbduck hauler myself. 

That pretty much covers the lobster hauling days, and if you would like to read the next chapters please comment.  If you’ve had enough, comment that, too.