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]