Chicken Dinner News
Airtabs, snowdrifts, and Billy’s music

By Kerry Evans-Spillman
Land Line staff


This issue’s trucking community news leads off with a couple of stories about truckers who came by OOIDA headquarters. We wrap up with the story of a trucker whose songwriting talent was showcased in the most impromptu, most unlikely mini-concert ever.

Gadgets – the new chrome
James Koronka, Davison, MI, has been an OOIDA member since 2006.

Before Christmas, James came by OOIDA headquarters to visit. While he was here, we got a tour of his truck.

James drives a red Freightliner Columbia under the colors of U.S. Express. It’s nearly paid for. Not much fancy about the outside of the truck, neat, practical, not a show truck. But as you approach the truck, you can’t miss the Airtabs. James has more than anyone we’ve seen.

You also notice the side view cameras. A peek inside James’ ride was like a gander inside the cockpit of a commercial airliner. He has Sirius XM radio, of course, right there in his Generation E rolling business office, along with his CyberTrucker work station. On the computer, he’s got his Drivers Daily Log – he’s really high on it, too. Plus, he’s got a stand-alone Cobra navigation system (the new 7700) for which James is a beta tester.

The day he was here, he was all excited about a new acquisition, The Brake Inspector by Spectra on his steers. Oh yeah, he’s got his Air Weigh on-board scales as well.

Ain’t afraid of no snow
During a foggy, soggy day in January, OOIDA Members Tony and Kim Haan of Ocala, FL, came by to visit, bound for Flagstaff. The forecast that week was threatening some big snow along their route. Thankfully Tony is a native of Nova Scotia and has a lot of experience driving in that white fluffy stuff.

Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland caught up with the Haans a few days later by phone to see how their travel was going. They had encountered a big storm on their way to Anaheim but they were waiting to hear from their dispatcher to see if blizzard conditions were on their horizon for the trip back. 

We heard from them later that day, and as Kim had hoped, they were routed around the snow for the next leg of their drive.

Tony told us he likes the challenge of driving in unforgiving weather conditions.  He also enjoys the fact that there is less traffic when the snow drifts get high.  

Prior to trucking, Kim had a career as a nurse and Tony played for a Canadian hockey team and worked as a mechanic.

Tail gunner turned trucker
OOIDA Life Member Wayne Baker of Worthing, SD, is one of the most interesting people you’ll meet on the road. When Wayne finished his duty with the Air Force in 1957, he says he didn’t find a lot of work as a B-29 tail gunner in the civilian world, so the highway beckoned.

He had always liked big trucks and considered himself footloose and fancy-free with a desire to see the country. So trucking was how he would fulfill that wish and get paid at the same time. When Wayne started out, hauling a load from Tampa to Cleveland would pay $85.

He entertained himself on the road by learning to play guitar Dobro-style. Wayne’s friend Roy Acuff (yes, THE Roy Acuff) would often give him free tickets to the Grand Ole Opry where Wayne and his wife would listen to country music and see performances by Flatt and Scruggs (also personal friends of his), Kitty Wells, Johnnie and Jack, Bashful Brother Oswald, and Shot Jackson. Wayne had fun playing guitar in a few clubs but he knew trucking was how he was making his living and it was much easier than trying to make money playing music.

Wayne credits his survival in the industry to a simple philosophy that has mostly kept him out of trouble. He says, “It takes longer to fill out an accident report than it does to give the other guy the right of way.”

Wayne’s son, Tony George, is a trucker, too. In December, Tony joined OOIDA. He lives in Versailles, IN.

Grand Ole OOIDA Cafeteria?
The OOIDA Truckers for Troops Telethon has just wrapped up its third and most successful year yet.

Our military personnel stationed overseas aren’t the only people touched by the telethon.

OOIDA Member Billy Pettibone of Sioux Falls, SD, says his heart was so inspired by Truckers for Troops that he wrote a song about it.

Recently Billy stopped by HQ and treated the staff to a very sweet and sincere live performance. We gathered around him in the cafeteria and heard his Truckers for Troops song as well as two other original tunes – a song about the tragedy in Haiti and one about his life with his family in the great state of South Dakota.

Billy, we may not be the biggest audience you’ll ever have, but we hope you know how much we appreciate you performing for us. LL