Friday, September 15, 2006

Loaded and Secure

A fifth wheel is the coupling that connects a road tractor to a trailer. Herschel explained to me that there haven't been improvements to this connection system since it was invented in the 1930's. He further explained that it's almost impossible for this mechanism to disconnect no matter how severe a wreck or crash.

It is rare for any mechanical invention not to be improved upon. The fifth wheel and the mouse trap are two examples I can think of that have not been improved. Can you think of other examples?

The rat-a-tat-tat sound from tractor-trailers that startles nearby motorists is caused by Jake Brakes on 18-wheelers. When a driver lets off the accelerator, the engine uses compression to help brake the truck. If road tractors aren't equipped with special mufflers, a sudden machine-gun like noise blasts from the truck when compression is employed to slow the forward motion. Jake brakes are prohibited in some communities.

I learned the information above from my friend, Herschel. Notice the correct spelling containing the letter "c". I've never before met anyone with this name. Herschel was born and reared in Wadley, Georgia in 1937. He was named after his grandfather who died in 1936. He visited his grandfather's grave site and observed the name on the tombstone. His grandfather was called "Hush" for short and it, too, is on the grave marker. Some people have tried to call Herschel by a shorter name, but he corrects them and insists on the full pronunciation to get his attention.

When he was in high school in Wadley, he acquired the nickname "Speck". This resulted from the response he sometimes made to the teacher's questions. Sometimes Herschel dozed in English class. When the teacher suddenly aroused him from his nap with a question about the lesson, Herschel 's response was "I speck so". Fellow students enjoyed this response so much that they nicknamed him Speck. This name soon fell by the wayside after Herschel began to respond to teacher's questions with well thought-out and articulated answers.

Herschel is an avid reader and owns a hardcover book collection that surpasses personal libraries of most people. Some of his books are rare and out of print. He has been one force in my life that caused me to pursue book reading much more seriously. He has recommended certain books for me. As a result, I've grown from the reading experiences. One recent recommendation was Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I learned some interesting history from the period 1900 to 1940 from this book.

It is wonderful to have friends that influence you toward personal growth.

The top picture is Herschel on the left standing beside Harvey Doub. This is a close up shot of his loaded trailer before leaving Nebraska for North Carolina. Harvey and Herschel talked for more than a year about back-hauling Mr. Doub's equipment from Nebraska to Pfafftown. Harvey visited his property in Nebraska a couple times per year. Without any pre-planning, it was by mere chance that Herschel arrived at Harvey's home 30 minutes before Harvey showed. Harvey said, "As I approached my house and saw the lights of Herschel's truck, I thought my house was on fire."

The bottom picture shows Herschel bringing another load across the Rocky Mountains.

Return here on Sunday, September 17 to learn more about my friend.

Have a good day!



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