41chevy

Diesel Gypsy's 82 Birthday

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 Today is William (Diesel Gypsy) Weatherstone's 82nd birthday. For those who don't know him, he is an old time trucker from  Canada who life on the road is amazing. He's is aside from my Dad one of my few hero's. Here is one of his recollections from his early days.   Paul

The first one is by William (Diesel Gypsy) Weatherstone, now retired and living in Elliot Lake, Ont. He’s a self-taught writer with a great stockpile of trucking lore. Those interested in reading more would do well to check out his website www.thedieselgypsy.com
Bill Weatherstone:
THE MONTREAL DOCKS (PIERS) 1964
While at my time as one of Izzie’s Gypsies I used to haul bandit loads from Toronto to the docks in Montreal. It was a whole different ballgame than in today’s day and age.
First, in the early 1960’s Izzie had a scrap yard in the old industrial section in Toronto’s east side. There he would buy and sell scrap metals of all kinds. He had a couple of B-61 Mack’s and 36’ flat deck trailers with 36” racks; one of which was my honeymoon chariot.
His specialty was to buy up old used car batteries and scrap them for their lead plates. He had a set of rollers that when the battery was set on and started to roll down into the plant, they would pass trough a box oven (home made) and the gas flames above the battery would melt the top of the casing, and when it reached the end of the conveyer rollers a couple men would take the battery and turn it upside down and dump the guts from the casing (Lead plates & posts) into a steel bin; discarding the Bakelite casing into a pile for the dump.
Now Izzie was a pretty shrewd character and worshiped the all mighty dollar as much as any man in business, perhaps even more so.
He had a few regular customers that he would gypsy loads down to Montreal for them, and then reload scrap batteries for the return load which was the only legal part of the trip.
One of those customers was a chemical company down in the Niagara region that manufactured Aluminum Chloride, and shipped in 45 gallon drums.
I would pick up a load during the day and deliver to the docks in Montréal before 6am the next morning.
We received $10 dollars to hire a dock worker to unload by hand. The tarp was pulled back and the side racks were removed. The lift truck would set a couple stacks of seaway pallets up against the trailer so the loader could hand roll each drum onto them. If I unloaded myself I could keep the fee.
In my case I had hired the dock foreman to unload for me while I grabbed a bit of sleep, while other drivers would keep ½ the fee for themselves and short change the un-loaders. By doing so, 2 or 3 trucks would have to wait for unloading for as much as ½ a day. In my case I was always unloaded and on my way for a pick-up order within an hour.
On one particular trip, the outside temperature was pushing 90 and the inside of the steel storage shed was over 100. The drums started to swell and white smoke began leaking out the top of the drum. The crew immediately took off expecting an explosion. I was approached to see what should be done to prevent a disaster.
I borrowed a screwdriver from the foreman, wrapped a towel around my face and went into the shed. There were 72 drums, and one at a time I backed off the closed vent on top of the drum, releasing the pressure in a cloud of Aluminum chloride fumes. I did all 72 drums before the crew would return to work.
All went pretty good for most of the summer stocking up a boatload of product.
I was early for one load and the foreman came to me and told me to get off the docks right away and wait a couple hours as they were expecting an uprising this day. He did not bother warning the other 2 drivers when they came in (retaliation for cutting the unloading rate)
I went about 6 blocks away and parked in front of a Tavern. (In Quebec, they open at 7am) I sat for an hour & ½ then called to Toronto, getting an OK to drop the load at another storage facility.
The other trucks did not get out till late that night, but got out without damage. The problem was contained at the other end of the pier. After that episode, the other drivers had to pay the full $10 fee, or do it themselves, taking almost all day, and keep looking over their shoulder for possible retaliation.
At another Pier # was a different type of incident.
One of Izzie’s regular winter customers was a hide dealer, who got fresh hides from the abattoirs in Toronto. They dried, scraped, folded and salted, and then tied and tagged each in a bundle.
The trailer was dropped at the shed and loaded by hand. In the early evening we would go and pick up the loaded trailer and be on the docks by 6 am the following morning.
This particular shed was filled with thousands of hides (a boatload) for shipment to Russia.
These were the last days before the introduction of the container system.
My first load was quite an eye opening experience….. While waiting to get into the shed, a dock worker stopped beside a pallet of figs in wooded boxes. He took his hook and smashed open a case, removed a package, ate one fig and threw the rest away, leaving the damaged stock on the ground.
That was one good reason that containers were introduced. Most companies wanted the product rather than an insurance claim.
The lead hand came to each driver and offered $35 a hide (up to 10) if they left them on the nose of the trailer covered over with the tarp. Leaving the docks as empty and delivering them to a drop point where the cash was paid.
The receiver would then remove the coloured tag and replace it with his own and deliver it back to the ship as his.
NOTE; at that time 3 hides were worth close to a weeks pay for a driver.
Just near the end of the ship loading, the Mounties raided the docks and shut down that little enterprise. Fortunately, I was 1500 miles west of Montreal at the time.
This is just a couple more memorable incidents from ½ a century ago when trucking was real trucking without the dreaded computers.”

 

Edited by 41chevy
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Very cool read Paul. I have some family in Spruceville Ontario. Some of them came across the border and settled in the glendive Sidney area then moved west. 

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God lovem and happy birthday wish him many more...bob

Sent from my XT1096 using Tapatalk

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I tried to burn him a disc of the Macungie pictures, but every time I tried it said "Windows can not read this disc, please insert a readable disc into the disc tray". And they're the DVD+R discs that i've always used for pictures, and now all of a sudden the computer doesn't recognize them?..stupid computers (Freightrain,2006).  I e-mailed him a link to the flickr pictures anyway.

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3 hours ago, other dog said:

I tried to burn him a disc of the Macungie pictures, but every time I tried it said "Windows can not read this disc, please insert a readable disc into the disc tray". And they're the DVD+R discs that i've always used for pictures, and now all of a sudden the computer doesn't recognize them?..stupid computers (Freightrain,2006).  I e-mailed him a link to the flickr pictures anyway.

I called him early evening but didn't get an answer. I'll try again tomorrow.

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Those people from that generation are truly a dying breed.......I just spent today with an eighty four year old retired us marshal helping him get his tractor up and running so HE could bale hay for his cows.....they are truly one of a kind so please wish diesel gypsy a happy birthday and hope he has MANY more.......Bobby j.

 

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I remember some discussion about this gentleman  and his web site . wonder if anyone has taken over the up keep of the site

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1 hour ago, carlotpilot said:

I remember some discussion about this gentleman  and his web site . wonder if anyone has taken over the up keep of the site

Unfortunately no, but much of his photos and some info are one Hanks. here is the link.

http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/weatherstone.htm

Edited by 41chevy
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