A Legend In A Big Rig
I was cleaning out the garage last Friday night, looking for items for a garage sale. I’ve got a dozen boxes of books, most of which I haven’t seen since I moved here eight years ago. A lot of paperbacks from the mid ’60s to late ’70s: stuff like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., M*A*S*H Goes To (fill in the blank), and most of Larry Niven’s Known Space stories.
And then there was this interesting novel by B.W.L. Norton. It’s a Dell paperback, first printing, 1978, a buck ninety-five. It begins
The giant tank lumbered into position on the northern approach to the bridge. It was an M-60A2, one of the most advanced prototypes, not usually assigned to the National Guard, but this was a crack unit, the best in Texas, and sure to be the first called up in any national emergency.
While the men on the tank completed their final course and range adjustments, the rest of the squad fanned out into the rocks and scrub on either side of the road.
“Damned if I know what we’re doing here,” one of them wondered aloud. “This ain’t no war.”
“Shut your face, man,” his buddy ordered curtly. “Listen.”
From the distance came the low-pitched rumble of powerful engines approaching rapidly like a summer storm. The noise sent a wave of activity through the two Texas State Police cars and the single armored riot-control vehicle that were backing up the action across the bridge.
Suddenly a black Mack diesel came roaring around the curve and semijackknifed to a stop about fifty yards from the tank guarding the bridge. Before the dust had a chance to completely settle, another M-60A2 pulled around the bend behind the truck, effectively cutting off any escape to the rear. Behind this second tank was a line of big-rig diesels that stretched back around the curve and out of sight. In the abrupt silence that followed, the giant machines seemed to be holding each other at bay like prehistoric animals.
“It’s him all right,” the guardsman spoke again. “Look at the hood on that truck.”
The hood ornament on the Mack had been replaced by a Woolworth-type rubber duck, identifying the driver as their quarry, the man who spirit and determination had brought them all — the police, the truckers, the National Guard, even the FBI — to this time and place: The Rubber Duck.
Yeah, it’s the novelization of The Motion Picture “Convoy”, and the novel begins at the end of the movie. The cover blurbs are pure hyperbole:
TO MEN HE WAS A LEGEND IN A BIG RIG. TO WOMEN HE WAS A LEGEND OF ANOTHER KIND!
BREAKER ONE-NINE, BREAKER ONE-NINE — HERE COMES THE RUBBER DUCK AND THE BIGGEST, MEANEST, RAUNCHIEST TRUCKIN’ ARMY EVER!
Somehow, I just can’t picture C.W. McCall looking like Kris Kristofferson… Bill Fries is a much nicer person.
I’ll post scans of the book's cover on the “Convoy (new version)” page.
Song A’ Th’ Week
Thought it was “Convoy (new version)” didn’t you? Ha! Here at TechRen Enterprises, we celebrate our holidays on the correct day. No three-day weekends around here, unless the holiday actually falls on Monday. And Convoy Day isn’t until the sixth of June, don’t ya know.
But the weather’s getting better, and it is time to start travelling through the wind and rain and thunder… and we ought to be about a hundred miles west of Fort Kearney by now.
(C.W. McCall, B. Fries, C. Davis)
From the album Black Bear Road.