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Wagons and Panels… Those Fabulous Hauling Machines

By Yvette VanDerBrink

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Of some of the classic designs, wagons and panels were always considered a work or family vehicle. That design has been catching on strong with collectors, new collectors, and the Rodders. Built to haul everything from the kids to well, Holstein calves.

I grew up on a dairy farm in Garretson, S.D. where Dad milked about 70 cows with the help of us kids. Now Holsteins are crafty cows. It always seemed that they would escape and get in the corn 24/7. It’s like they had pliers and took down the fence and put it back up. Luckily the calves would be in the barn. When we would move them across the yard to another pen it was in a 1960 Chevrolet panel truck. It worked perfect. We’d back up to the barn and open the back barn doors on the panel and load them up for their short cruise across the yard.

One day we were moving calves and I was 14 years old, I’d been driving on the farm but was working towards my learner’s permit. Dad said, “Yvette, you drive.” I jumped in the bucket seat of the panel as they loaded the calves. Next thing I knew, I had tails, Holstein butts and cow poop going down my back. It was simple, just drive across the yard, back up to the next gate and offload the black and white cargo. With NO power steering and tails and cow poop going down my back, I slowly started to drive away from the barn. All you could see was black and white pressed against the glass and my little head in the middle of calves. I carefully looked back and Dad looked like he was trying to land a plane or something with all of his hand gestures. Who knows what he was saying? I was trying to concentrate on backing up my bovine cargo and Dad said, “just back’er it up - let’s go!” Well, I was just about had it, and gave it a little too much gas and ran right over the feed bunk that was inside the gate. Then the hand signals got bigger and I knew there was something wrong. We let the calves out as I saw the wood under the back tires. Dad wasn’t too pleased, and said I was going to make him a new bunk. Mom and everyone else were laughing, and I think the calves were too. Needless to say in Ag class, I made a wooden bunk for the calves.

That 1960 Chevrolet panel was a lot of fun. My sister Suzie and I both learned to drive in it in the alfalfa field. We had a few rules, we can’t go over 45 and no tricks. Well, rules are made to be broken at that age. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that Dad told us he knew what we had been up to. He had crawled up the ladder on the silo and saw Suzie and I out there. Dust flying, and spinning donuts in the field on the other side of the hill. Then he saw us drive like angels when we knew we were in his view. We didn’t know what to say about that, but we eventually had a laugh and fessed up. Yeah, we learned some tricks that came in handy in future years. We loved driving that panel.

We took a family trip one time in Ronnie's station wagon. I can remember sitting backwards watching the road and scenery go by. What fun it was as we packed everyone in the family truckster. Those wagons were derbied and junked; there are not a lot of those vintage family trucksters and delivery/commercial panels out there and are sought after by collectors. I think they are great and my sister ha never given up liking wagons. She has had a Volvo Cross Country wagon for years until they stopped making the design. She’s excited because recently Volvo announced they are going to bring them back.

But when I look at one of those panels, honestly, I can still smell Holsteins and think of that short trip across the yard with my black and white cargo. See you at the Auctions!


Yvette VanDerBrink-VanDerBrink Auctions
The Salvage Princess
The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal

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