Us city dwellers are missing a lot.
Small town Americana is alive and well.
The musical group I’m in was hired to play last night at the County Fair in Lincoln County, Nevada. This fair is held in a small city named Panaca, population 963. Located about 20 miles east of the Utah-Nevada border in southeastern Nevada, Panaca is a clear throwback to the small towns of years past. Befitting its Mormon heritage, Panaca is the only municipality in Nevada that bans the sale of alcoholic beverages and is one of two cities in Nevada (the other being Boulder City) that does not allow gambling.
Before we played our good country music for the crowd of approximately 300 last night, they held a rodeo. Interspersed among the standard rodeo fare were events like calf riding for kids under 10 (no one stayed on for more than 2 seconds!), and wild cow milking, where participants had to corner and procure one glass of milk from a wild cow in under two minutes. The rodeo opened with a local girl singing the National Anthem while two girls rode their horses around the arena at full gallop with the United States flag and the Nevada state flag for the duration of the song.
Wandering around, I spotted a hand-lettered PARKING RESERVED sign hung on a prime viewing spot on the fence.
A well used 1965 Chevrolet C-10 pickup was sitting in the prime reserved parking spot. Two ladies were sitting in the bed on camp chairs. I hurriedly pulled out my trusty camera phone, walked up to the truck, introduced myself and met Connie Simkins (on left). Connie is an institution in Lincoln County. She has lived just outside Panaca all her life, and has been a volunteer at the fair for many years.
We talked about many things. Music (she likes country music and was looking forward to hearing the band), her life in Panaca (she wouldn’t even think of living anywhere else), and then I sprung the real reason for my interest. The truck. “You want to photograph my truck?” She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind even after I explained that this column was not for trucks that looked showroom new, but trucks that were a member of the family, were well used and loved, and had a story. She still looked skeptical but decided she’d play along with the tall bearded city man who was apparently deranged.
I asked Connie about her truck. “My husband and I bought this truck new 46 years ago for just over $2400” ($16,400 adjusted), Connie proudly told me. “It now has over 300,000 miles on the original engine, and I change the oil every 3,000 miles with Havoline 20 weight.”
Connie told me that the truck has a 292 (4.8l) I6. The truck has a 3 speed plus overdrive transmission with a floor shift. The air horns on the roof are not original equipment. But they are a nice touch. The rust is obvious. But it doesn’t seem as if it would be fatal, as the truck seemed very solid.
The truck is used. Used well and often. No question about it. But the character of the truck drew me in, as it obviously has been a member of the family for almost a half century and used with a great deal of respect.
No trailer queen, this truck is an institution on the streets of Lincoln County, as Connie is well known and loved in the area. You could feel the respect the locals have for Connie as they came up and said hello.
May they both have many more years of love and rodeos.
[PN: Here’s a short video of Richard’s Band, Honly Tonk Heroes, playing at the Panaca Fair]
That’s an awesome truck, the 292 rocks. You definitely get bonus points for having a cool story of finding the truck as well as the cool story of the truck’s owner. 🙂
Great find and story…and from the evident new rubber, Connie intends to hang on to this truck for awhile longer.
What did she do to the steering wheel? Tape to enhance grip or some decoration?
I taped it up to keep my hands clean when driving to work. original surfacing on the wheel worn off years and years ago. We have never had the head or the pan off the 292. Just change the oil every 3,000 miles and tune it up once a year. My husband actually signed for the truck 20 days before we got married. We had never made a payment on it when we got married almost 47 years ago. We bought the truck while GM was on strike, it was green with a white stripe, the day we paid if off, we had it painted metallic blue, but many miles, two teenagers, lots of weather have given us the current multi color. No I do not ever intend on selling or parking this truck. I joke when asked if I want to sell it and answer “I would rather give you my huband than this truck.”
Thanks for asking. We have had lots of good times in this truck over the past 46+ years.
I love stories like this about the longtime owner of an old car. When I was in college in the early 80s, I would occasionally see an old lady out in a really nice 46-46 Chrysler sedan. I always wanted to meet her and learn the story behind her car.
Been following Curbside Classics since it was on TTAC and I love it. Switched with Paul when he made the jump although I continued to follow TTAC until it got a bit, how should I say -confrontational- for my taste. Love how this site stays on topic and respects multiple points of view.
Mostly like to be a lurker but you hooked me Richard with this excellent post as pickup trucks are my thing. Although a southside of Chicago boy all my life, I’m a country boy at heart. One of the nice things about living in Chicago is I can drive 30 minutes south of my house and hit corn country and farm living. I know many people find the Midwest flat and boring, but I find great beauty in it.
There is something spiritual about driving down a country two laner along railroad tracks laid down in the 1840’s, looking at corn and soybeans till the horizon, and only the occasional house or town to break the mood. And there is no better way to do it than in an old pickup truck.
My first vehicle was a 1958, green, Ford F100 that I drove in high school in the late 70’s, early 80’s. It had three on the tree, midwest salt induced rust everywhere, and dumped more exhaust in the cab than in the atmosphere. I loved every second in it. As I went to an all boys Catholic high school, I didn’t have to worry about what the girls thought. Although my non-existant understanding of females at that time matched the knowledge I had about the workings of that truck. I now know more about trucks.
I’ve driven many different trucks over the years, some new or newer, but I’m back to an old one. Just bought a $500, 1979, Chevy, Big 10, Bonanza, rust bucket from an 80 year old farmer who’s had it for years, and I’m back in love again.
The farmer could be a Curbside Classic all to himself. He’s pretty much been on the same farm his whole life, and I don’t think he’s every sold one of his cars or trucks other than one he sold me. When they stopped running or he stopped needing them, he just parked them out back to sit.
Maybe one day I’ll go down there again, take some shots, and show you what he’s got. Or maybe I’ll just go back to lurking. Either way thanks for all the great posts from everyone and letting me share one. And Richard, please share the name of your band as good country music is another of my loves.
Pat, Thanks for the comment and for being here. As you well know, the joys of old pickups mean a lot to me. And no better place to drive one than out in the country; it’s where they belong.
It’s apparently not going to let me link to our You Tube video of that night. I know what I’ll do.
Our band is the Honky Tonk Heroes. We play throughout Utah, Nevada and Arizona.
Go to YouTube, in the search box type in Honky Tonk Heroes Panaca, and our videos will be the first two. This is us after the rodeo, on the flatbed truck. It’s only part of a song, sorry. The lead guitar player’s wife recorded this and the iPhone only does so much. Oh, I’m the keyboard player to the far right.
Let me try the direct link – if you don’t see a link, it won’t allow it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp0HbRdkZJs
Welcome Pat! Glad we hooked you in!
I’ve added your band’s video to the bottom of the story. Makes a nice addition; thanks for sharing.
Tell the guitarist I want my beard back. GO the GREYS cool vid bro Ive spent a bit of time in an F100 barrelling down dirt roads with Waylon autoreversing on the stereo scary at speed pickups can be but solid when you slide into the scrub.
Richard nice job on the 65 Chev truck article and pictures.
Slight additional information. the transmission is a four speed manual, no overdrive. Gear shift knob added by husband to match the 5-4 transmission he drove at work in an 18 wheeler. He put 1,200,000 miles on one truck in 11.5 years hauling tents and sleeping bags (Wenzel) made in St George to the Pacific North West and paper back to Moore Business Forms in St. George.
Thanks hope to see you again on the rodeo road
I certainly hope to see you again, Connie. Had a wonderful time. Thanks for showing up here and taking the time to respond.
All best to you and Sue. It was a pleasure meeting you both.
Paul, thanks for the response and for posting the video. I’ve been lusting after your truck and every other one you’ve shown since I found this site. I actually went down to the farmer to look at two trucks, the one I bought and a 1978, F100 that he bought new and parked in 1994 with engine problems when he bought the Big Ten. I’m actually a Ford truck guy; this is the first Chevy truck I’ve ever owned. Although I’m way past the age of arguing about which is better and consider the choice a personal preference.
I would have bought the Ford too as he only wanted $350 for it, but the farmers definition of not much rust and mine was a bit different. The Ford wasn’t far from returning to the mother earth on which it was parked, and I could drive the Chevy home. The Chevy was one of his daily drivers. About the only thing he did to it on its way to 150,000 plus miles is change the oil, tires, and battery and watch it rust. But it doesn’t smoke and I will enjoy wrenching on it a bit.
Rico, I loved the video and your choice of songs. Small town, truck, and country music had me greatly interested in your post, but I completely took the bait when you added Connie and the detail that she and her husband bought it new in 65. I have no use for our culture of celebrity but boy how I love to meet people like Connie and hear their stories.
I’m sure that’s why I’m so drawn to this site. Thanks for hooking me.
Thank you! And tell a friend 🙂
All ready have.
Pat, please keep us updated on your truck. My cousin had a root beer brown 1977 Bonanza about 20 years ago. It was a nice honest truck. The fact that it was a Bonanza was unique – there were a lot of 1973-80 Chevy trucks around back then, and most of them were Silverados or Scottsdales.
Will do Tom. As a Ford guy, I didn’t even know what a Bonanza or Big Ten was when I bought the truck. I later found out that the Bonanza was a trim value package and the Big Ten meant it was beefier, springs and brakes I believe, than a regular half ton C-10 but not a beefy as a 3/4 ton.
Mine is well worn, red, two wheel drive, 350, auto, with no air and crank windows. Been trying to change the gear oil and clean the differential, but my dad’s 76 Cadillac Eldo, convertible has kept me busy as he wants me to sell it for him. The Eldo is nice, but the truck is much more my style.
NICE ! .
I love this truck and remember when they were new ~ we had mostly prewar rigs on the Dairy Farm then .
I’m still using an old (1969 now) Chevy i6 powered short bed farm rig for my Shop Truck .
I have a couple 292 C.I.D. i6’s and i want to re power my rig with one .
EDIT: _none_ of your videos are available on you tube =8-(