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A Member of the Family for Sixty-Five Years
by Terry Kohl
Dean Byers Rodgers was born June 18, 1916, on a dairy farm in Springfield Township, PA. In those days, although far from idyllic, life was certainly moving at a slower, less frantic pace. Chicken's were raised, not only for food but for "egg money," usually saved in a hidden jar for purchasing special things; a bolt of cloth for a coveted new dress; new buttons to use on an old, shirt, a trip to town for a sweet treat.
Dairy cows were raised to provide income and automobiles were few and far between in the 20's and 30's. If you were fortunate to have a truck, it was strictly a "work horse."
In 1938, Dean's younger brother, John, purchased a used 1934 Flat Head V8, 8 cylinder Ford Dump Truck from Slater's Garage in Sandy Lake, PA. He paid $300 for it, a huge amount in those days. The purpose for this hefty outlay of cash was to go into business hauling coal to the river barges in Erie and limestone to the farmers who used it as fertilizer.
This particular truck had a history of hauling. Prior to John purchasing it, the truck was used in one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's recovery programs called the Work Progress Administration (WPA). Roosevelt created this national program, which Congress approved in 1935. This work/relief agency was one of the most important of the New Deal programs and between 1935 and 1943 provided nearly 8 million jobs to the vast legions of unemployed in this country during the Great Depression.
A dump truck obviously made delivery of coal and limestone easier on entrepreneur, John. The hydraulic truck hoist, manufactured in Detroit by Wood Hydraulic Hoist and Body Company, was first used by Ford in 1934. Having this feature on the truck was a huge plus as before its invention by famous hydroplane racer, Gar Wood, you had to and shovel out any of the trucks content.
World War II disrupted John's business venture as he was called to serve. Dean was needed at home on the farm and as a result, was not drafted. He also worked at Westinghouse in Sharon, PA making torpedoes. Before leaving, John sold the truck to his father for the same amount he paid, who in turn sold it to Dean.
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