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Smelly Socks: Air brakes, air horns are nature of The Beast

June 5, 2014 at 1:05 a.m.

Austin and Jamison in The Beast.

My youngest son, 10-year-old Jamison, has always been very enthused about anything mechanical. His enthusiasm has matured and expanded, and in the last few years, he has become truly fascinated with big trucks.

He builds big trucks with Legos and rolls down his window at stoplights to admire large trucks that are next to us. He smiles at their size and comments about their rough sounds.

Jamison is actually very knowledgeable about different types and brands of trucks and has a few favorites picked out. He is determined that when he turns 16, he is going to drive to school in an enormous pickup truck.

I could like that idea because he would be surrounded by a lot of metal to protect him, but with the distance out of town we live and current gas prices, I realize it might only happen once.

Austin, my oldest son, 13, couldn't care less about trucks. It has to be bright red, low to the ground, have a convertible top and, of course, get plenty of attention from the opposite sex. He adamantly denies that he likes the attention, but he isn't a good poker player, and you can read him like a book.

My father, Popsy, has always had very eclectic taste in cars. When he got his driver's license at the tender age of 14, he drove a '52 Chevy with rust holes so big you risked falling through the floorboards. My heart starts palpitating when I think about a 14-year-old driving in today's world - especially a particular soon-to-be 14-year-old I know and am very fond of.

I cringe and hyperventilate picturing Austin driving up and down the road in front of our house dodging enormous trucks that are in a hurry. When Popsy was slightly older, he upgraded from Chevys to Porsches and has had nearly everything in between.

Recently, he decided that his four-door Dodge dually pickup was too expensive and fancy for the kind of use it was getting on the ranch, and although it caused Jamison much grief, it was sold.

Jamison lamented that there was never going to be anything as cool as that silver Dodge dually. I might have known that it wouldn't take Popsy long to replace that truck after Jamison's disapproval was voiced with constant reminiscing about the "most awesome of pickup trucks."

My kids and I had just told my husband goodbye as he left one Saturday morning to go to a meeting. We were sitting at our kitchen table trying to wake up when all of the sudden we heard a loud "qweesh" in our driveway. Austin screwed his face up and sleepily said, "Is that a snake or something?"

Jamison suddenly stood up and with a twinkle in his eyes said, "No. That sounds like air brakes. What did Popsy do?" We all ran to the window in anticipation. Then, we witnessed Popsy climbing out of a truck that I don't quite know how to describe.

Austin spoke first and said, "Huh, what did he bring home now?"

Jamison said, "It's a truck. It's a big ol' truck." He then smiled with sudden realization, "It's a beast of a truck."

We all went outside and proceeded to hear about this "great bargain" Popsy got on an enormous 1970 GMC 6500. We climbed inside for a test run, and I have to admit, it was quite an experience as we tumbled and rumbled across the dusty, caliche roads.

The cows will never be the same when Jamison found the air horn. Honestly, neither of us will. An air horn is very much an unexpected joy to a 10-year-old boy. It was hair-raising, but it even got a smile out of Austin, who let a slow, "Well, I guess that's cool," slip from his upturned lips.

Jamison said, "Yep, it is a beast of a truck, and I like it. We can load up hay, gates, lumber, barbed wire, staples, pipe and still have room for the ranch dogs. And it sounds cool. I like that "qweesh" when it stops. I approve. Signed and stamped."

Austin snuck in an "I like it." Austin's sentiment lasted until Popsy teasingly mentioned taking him to school in The Beast. A pained grimace spread across Austin's face as he let out a loud, "Mom, you really like taking us to school every morning? You really wouldn't let him do that, right? Mom?" Truthfully, I have never felt more wanted by my teenager.

After our initial test drive, I was left behind on the driveway, and I just shook my head as Popsy, Austin, and Jamison bounced down the road with the dogs loaded up in the back. I don't know what was louder - the barking of the dogs excited about going for a ride, the laughing of the kids, the rumble of the old motor or the "qweesh" - the roar of The Beast.

Then, in the back window I could see Jamison waving at me and reaching for the air horn. Who said living on a ranch is peaceful?

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at smellysocks@vicad.com or visit her blog at morethansmellysocks.com.

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