Curbside Classic: 1937 International Demi-Semi-Tractor – Loggers Need Them Some Entertainment Too

(first posted 6/3/2012. Updated with info about this truck’s working history at bottom of article)

After a long week of felling giant trees with axes and those new-fangled smoky chain saws, Oregon’s hard-working loggers need them some hearty entertainment. So they unhook the semi trailer after dropping the last load at the mill, hop in their suddenly spry-feeling International truck, and head to Main Street in Cottage Grove, to The Axe and the Fiddle, where there’s a traveling burlesque review booked. After manhandling logs all week, these guys need to see something to remind them of the softer and more feminine aspect of life. And while the guys are inside enjoying themselves, this 1937 International is also feeling the pleasure of getting its load off its fifth wheel.

Now you might think this pint-sized International might be a bit petite for such hard work, but back in those days, men and their trucks were built of sterner stuff. The logs were bigger, the men were tougher, and the trucks were smaller. Today, young guys drive around in jacked up giant diesel pickups twice the size of this little ’37 Chevy. But their loads are empty; all show and no go. Not these guys.

Yes, we can only imagine what it was like, felling trees this size with axes, hand saws and the like.

And then hauling them to the mill with such modest-sized trucks. Hardworking rigs indeed.

These trucks are maybe a size or two bigger than our featured hauler, but here’s an old Ford about the same size. I take it back; it has somewhat bigger wheels too.

This pint-sized demi-semi cornbinder has all of 16″ wheels, and the tires look like they haven’t been changed since the Korean War.

But here it is, sitting one door down from The Axe and Fiddle on a Friday night. Well, the hardworking loggers need a little entertainment after a hard week of felling giant logs with their axes. And who better to entertain them than Trudy Bauchery and her Burlesque Review? Why do you think we were in Cottage Grove on a Friday night? To look at books? Not that night.

When you’ve been in the woods for a solid week or three, the thought of a good-old burlesque show has some genuine appeal. And thankfully, it’s still in style, or has become so again, in the retro-hip North West. So headliner Trudy Bauchery, along with Angelique DeVil, Babs Jamboree, Dada Ne Nada, and Dandy Pie find receptive audiences up and down the Willamette River Valley.

Now, Sophie Maltease was not part of this Review, but she does have a video giving those of you in the Bible Belt an idea of how we debauched West Coasters spend our Friday nights. It ain’t at prayer meeting.

Nowadays, a pickup-sized truck is used either for show, maybe for hauling sissy fifth-wheel recreational trailers. Turns out, the 1937 International actually has a colorful history with that too, as well as logs. “Commander” Gatti’s famous “Jungle Yachts” were hauled by 1937 Internationals.

Designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, these colorful and luxurious rigs were ahead of their times. But there’s little chance that our featured truck spent its life hauling anything like that. This is the deep woods of Oregon, a Heart of Darkness of a very different sort than Gatti was exploring.

I can see why deSakhnoff was drawn to the International; for 1937, it was a very handsome truck indeed. Actually, this could be any model year up through 1940, as they didn’t change them. But 1937 has a nice ring.

These were smartly styled indeed; Streamlined Moderne finally arrived in the tough and tumble truck world.

And under the sleek hoods beat the durable OHV sixes that International became famous for; in trucks as well as tractors (well, fours mainly, in the tractors).

And a smartly designed cab and dashboard too. A bit cozy for three, but a little bromance among loggers was inevitable.

Lest anyone doubt that this is a genuine work truck, and not some effete poseur, here’s the business end. Fruehauf! That name rolls off the tongue, like the millions of trailers hooked to it (and also made by the same company).  Makes sense. Needs a bit of grease though, guys. Maybe after the show; first things first.

Update: The owner of this truck found it here at CC in 2014, and added the detailed history of it. Turns out it wasn’t a log hauler exactly, but it did haul a freight trailer all over the West. And it’s still hauling today.

John Barrong writes:  This is my truck! and it is a workhorse it is a 1938 d15 had the six removed in 1967 and replaced with 1957 Chevy 283 V8 and 4 speed with 3 speed brownie, and I have its original matching freight truck trailer. I have log books that show this truck hauling from Montana to Santa Fe, with repairs in Durango, Pagosa Springs as far south as Arizona. It spent most of its life hauling sheep in Eastern Oregon; now it hauls antique steam and gas engines and glue lam beams from the mill I work at for friends I bought this truck for $3k four years ago, and it is continually being restored as it is used.