I ran across this shot at Dave Gelina’s Flickr page. It’s from about 1963, at the Benton Harbor, MI weekly farmer’s market. And it shows how pickups were more typically used back then.
Here’s another from that location:
Great pictures! Did trucks make up about 40% of red vehicles back then?
I see almost all Ford and GM, maybe one International (the red stake bed near the bottom left of the top shot)?
It is sad that 30 miles north of South Bend Indiana there is nary a single Studebaker identifiable. Which probably reflects real life back then pretty well.
Grandpa’s ’53 Chevy 3600 was red. It had stake sides. He grew apples and pears, but there were no farmer’s markets nearby. Sold crates of fruit to supermarket chains and at his stand on US 50.
I still see some pickups used this way at my local farmer’s market, some vintage 1970s ones even. But many of the farmers seem to be using cargo vans or box trucks for this purpose now.
What is that big open area in the back people keep putting stuff in? Sure looks handy.
I’m not sure, but I think it’s like a primitive data center for stuff. People used to carry around stacks of phone books, computer punch cards, and telegraph wire back there to stay in touch while on the road. That’s what the old legends say, anyway.
No, that open area is just a mobile trash can. Throw your refuse out the window while going down the road and, if you throw it just right, it’ll land in the trash bin. Ain’t that nifty?
Beautiful pictures, love the variety of colors!
Yup we got plenty of variety now – black, gray, white
Notice how many men are wearing suits, too! I remember going to our local market on occasion as a child, then when I moved in with my grandparents when I started uni, Grandpa would always drive down to the market on Saturday because gas was a few cents cheaper there!
back in the day people used to dig up the road wearing suits.
I remember as a little kid all the men digging up the road seemed to be middle aged “Teddy Boys” wearing donkey jackets
What would be fascinating to know is how many of the pickups pictured still exist somewhere. Given the basic utility in even the crappiest pickup imaginable, I would be willing to bet a number of them are still around.
What also jumps out is how none of these pickups appear to be that old. Sure, there are some that aren’t so new, but I’m not seeing any 30-odd year old ones as I will see at farmer’s markets around here.
For that matter, one of the survivors from here may still be hauling to a farmers market in Michigan.
Those were my same thoughts, Jason!
And growing up in farm/factory country (northwest Ohio) in the 60’s and 70’s, pickups were strictly utilitarian. They were used for work. it wasn’t until the mid-late 70’s when that began to change,
I grew up in South Jersey with a Dad whose work involved lots of interaction with farmers. I remember their pickups had lots of patina (if not outright rust), even the ones that were driven to market or into town. I’m surprised how these look fairly new.
I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of them have 6 cylinders and three-on-the-tree.
Pickups were for hauling, cars/wagons were for towing. Now pickups are for towing (and hauling, though most buy them for the former) and vans are for hauling. And there’s nothing wrong with either arrangement.
Pickups did not have big V-8 engines available for heavy towing until the late 1960’s. Mid-price cars had huge engines by the late 1950’s. Luxury cars had even more displacement, power and torque.
If you could afford it, which would you tow with in 1959, an Imperial 413ci V-8 or Dodge pickup 230ci flathead six?
I still see older Toyotas, Nissans and Mitsubishis at lumberyards and other such facilities being used the way God intended. You will more likely see the new ‘fancy’ pickups parked outside a bank or another corporate office, with a tonneau covering the tray!
I’ve owned 2 older Rangers now in the last 2 years, with the basic stick shift/4cyl/rwd layout, and have totally been smitten by cheap old pickup ownership. Awfully handy, and can haul their rated 1200lb no problem (and then some, as seen in the pic hauling pavers).
So now a days we use trucks as daily drivers and most of them won’t haul anything heavier than a coffee table in its entire life. But what is a truck? A V8 in one end, a solid axle in the other, auto trans, a chassis holding everything together and a body on top.
Isn’t the same recipe for the our cars back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s?
Creatures of habit.
The future of FO.MO.CO. is in these pictures,all trucks,no sedans.
It takes a LOT more bushel baskets of produce to buy a truck today than it did then.
For nerds of a certain age, Benton Harbor brings up memories of Heathkit, a manufacturer of ready-to-assemble electronic products. As a longtime ham licensee, I got to build one in the early 90s before they went out of business. But in their heyday, you could build a Heathkit ham radio, a television, and even a computer. Hell, the old Heathkit VHF radios were called “Benton Harbor Lunchboxes” due to their size and profile.
You brought back great memories of building my Heathkit AR15 in the winter of 1969 or 1970. A wonderful AM/FM receiver (later to be paired with Advent speakers) which gave me the pride of completion of an initially,seemingly daunting task. To this day, for this reason, I always have a smile when I hear of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
My old guitar teacher had a Heathkit guitar amp. The reverb and tremolo gave it surf tone for days. I’ve never seen another one.
Cool pics. I also noticed how dressed up everyone was.
My dad was the classic blue collar guy back then, even wore literal blue collars, remember those blue button up work shirts? Long sleeves usually, tails always tucked into those matching blue work slacks and finished off with the khaki work boots and a hard hat. Metal lunch box. Dad wore that uniform till the day he retired in ’87.
And he and his dad, grandpa, always drove pickups. This went back into the ’40s, with a new pickup every decade or so. Grandpa and grandma were a one car family, so all they ever had was a pickup. We were richer so mom had a car, always a coupe, and dad a pickup.
These trucks were used mostly just like they are today, groceries, trips to the hardware store, the occasional sack of concrete in the back. This was in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, etc. Hauling the kids for short trips was easy, in the bed. Longer trips or bad weather just saw us all stuffed in the cab. Mom’s cars were strictly for Friday shopping and Sunday church.
Dad hated the extended cab/ four door trucks that came on in the ’70s. Said he’d never own one. Then his last rig was one, ’92 F-250 extended. He liked it.
I’ve usually drove a pickup since I got my license. My 26 year old son as well drives one. He don’t need it. I don’t need it. Dad didn’t need it. Grandpa didn’t need it.
I love your comment. My mother’s family from northwest Ohio was the complete opposite. They were farmers in the 30s, 40s and 50s yet never owned a truck. Everything they did on that farm was with a tractor and a sedan – first a 1935 Ford V8 and then a 1951 Kaiser. What is odd is that my grandfather (who died in the late 50s) was a very mechanical kind of guy, but apparently figured that a sedan pulling a trailer could accomplish everything a pickup could.
I get a kick out of the people fascinated by seeing men in suits and ladies in dresses at a market. People forget that “back in the day”, casual was not acceptable for being out in public. Those people are dressed “appropriately” for the day, with the guys in suits probably buyers, and the sellers dressed in their nicer clothes. Everyone understood that for events in public spaces, one went dressed. Showing up in jeans, or unshaven, or wearing old clothes was noticed and not appreciated. It showed a lack of respect, at least to those folks. Now, casual is not only accepted, it is almost mandatory. Not that I mind, as I enjoy going to work in shorts and a t-shirt, but things are certainly different.
Where are the giant rims with the low profile tires? Could you actually go in dirt or over bumps with those old trucks? They need more angry faces and gatling gun eyes. And those 10 billion watt LED light bars. On ALL the time. Stupid things being used to “carry stuff”. Blah! (Now that’s some good sarcasm!) Why are they all dressed up? Now people go to funerals in socks and sandals.
Go to a produce auction in Lancaster County PA and you’ll see something much like this with open horse-drawn buggies. These are an extension of those.
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