Sunday, January 22, 2012

35 years of RFD in Wisc.

With all of the traveling for work and wandering for adventure that my grandfather accomplished in his early years, after his trip to Montana on his HD sidecar rig, he married and settled down in St. Paul, MN.  He worked at the (now closed) Ford Plant building Model T's, then and just about his favorite job ever, at the Twin City Rapid Transit Company.  His job was Motorman, the driver and he piloted the Streetcars in the city, but his normal route was the Interurban Route between St. Paul and Stillwater.  Best of all was the weekend duty hauling young couples and families to the Wildwood Amusement Park in Mahtomedi, on the shores of White Bear Lake, where the Company had their own amusement park.

Before long, Gramp and Gram moved back to his homeland in Barron County, WI where Gramp carried mail for the USPS until his retirement in the early 60's.  Getting the mail delivered no matter the conditions, on those roads, in those years, proved to often be a challenge, one easily forgotten today now that we've got paved roads and better, more suited vehicles.  Even modern day gravel is a huge improvement on the road surfaces that carriers faced in the 40's and 50's.

After trying various Model A based snowmobile modded machines and achieving less than perfect results, he and a machine shop friend built their own rough road machine.  Based on a '32 Model A, the front axle was turned upside down, a truck transmission and rearend were installed, held high with tractor wheels and chevron treaded tires.  The cab compartment was boxed in to provide shelter and protection for the mail sacks.  It was the first machine larger than a riding lawnmower that I ever drove requiring a clutch (and it pushed really hard at 12 years old).


Gramp stopped to help the Milk Truck......


Not a problem, you just drive through......


Easy from here........


I smile when I see this photo; the road now paved, tourists from the Twin Cities use it to enjoy a B&B.  I'd have turned around and gone back home.....


I'm going to assume that he crested the hill and made the next box.....


One of his "seemed like a good idea at the time" attempts with the Snowmobiles that didn't work as hoped....


As I remember him telling it, soft snow and steering were major issues......


With chains, differential dragging.......


Plowing.....




1 comment:

  1. .. ? .. tourist heaed to a B and B..:) .. turn around ! and head home... ? .. humm, tough call...

    ReplyDelete