The humble Farmer, left, and an unidentified friend pose with the Model T that humble used to tow a Model TT truck from Warren to St. George in 1954. Photo courtesy of Robert Skoglund

On sunny Maine days when there is a paucity of crime, newspaper reporters struggling to justify their existence dig some old character out of the woodwork and write an article about him. You might recall seeing the story about the 102-year-old man who drove the same 1928 Rolls-Royce for nearly 77 years.

Although I’ve driven my 1919 Model T for 68 years, it will be a long time before I’ll be worth mentioning in a newspaper on that account. But this spring I might have pushed the envelope in another field of automotive adventure and, should any reporter want the details on what follows here, my office hours are from 9 til 5.

It started two days ago when I had had a call from a woman who wanted some rhubarb. She’d gone into one of the local stores to buy some, but walked out empty-handed in a state of sticker shock.

She called and asked if I could spare enough rhubarb for a pie. When she arrived I asked her who she was, and lit right up when she admitted to being a Cogan. Her grandfather, Ted Johnson, was one of my father’s closest friends. Seventy-five years ago he was at our house often. He’d play his guitar and sing funny songs. I loved Ted Johnson. Seeing her brought it all back to me.

I recalled that Ted’s daughter, her mother, married Norman Cogan. In 1954 he had a Model TT truck by his garage in Warren, some 8 miles away.

I bought it for $15. Like any Model T, it ran good, but it had hard rubber tires on front and no license plates and I’d have to go right by the state police barracks in Thomaston to get it home.

I reasoned that if I towed it I wouldn’t need license plates, but just to be on the safe side, it might be prudent to move at sunrise – which would have been a good hour before anyone was up and about.

My brother Jim, who was 14 at the time, went over with me in my 1926 Model T to fetch it home. Although we towed it past the police barracks, just to be on the safe side, I drove it most of the way.

Jim was going to look in his 1954 diary so I could tell you the exact summer day we brought that truck home from Warren. But when he thought about it, he said that back then that sort of thing was so commonplace that he probably didn’t even bother to write it down.

Sixty-five years later, the saga continues.

I drove my 1991 Nissan truck 312,000 miles. The last time I tried to use it, on a cold November day, the starter wouldn’t even click. I didn’t bother to register the truck and planned to junk it this spring. But when the snow melted I realized that an old Maine man cannot live without a pickup truck. You can’t haul off branches in a Rav-4. And although the Rav-4 will haul trash down to the town dump, there is no way it will haul home all the good things you find when you get there.

Charging the battery didn’t help. I figured the starter was locked, so I asked my brother to tow it up my driveway so I could start it in gear. By the way, things are not like they used to be. Nowadays it’s hard to steer a vehicle if the motor is not running.

Three of four tries indicated that I was really going to have to roll that motor over good before it would start, so I suggested that we tow it up the road.

Not a good plan. The engine coughed and spluttered and tried to start, but eventually it gurgled and died. When we stopped by the side of the road to reconnoiter, two or three friends created a traffic hazard by also stopping to see if they could “help.”

Somehow we managed to tow it into a safe off-road spot another half-mile up the road, where we left it. Right about then I remembered that, because its days were numbered, I’d been running it on a near empty tank last summer. We put gas in it, towed it 100 feet and it ran like a clock. We’d towed that truck for a mile, trying to start it with no gas in the tank.

Oh. The rubric for a tentative article?

“After 66 Years, Skoglund Brothers Still Towing Unregistered Vehicles.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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