godsend to folks at home
by Delbert Trew
"Everyone wanted a jeep. This heroic vehicle had appeared in
every war movie, newsreel and photo sent home from the war."
After my recent column about scrap-iron drives during World War II,
I received many letters and e-mails on the subject.
Mario Coleman of Canyon recalled stories of the war surplus equipment
appearing on the market after the war ended.
Everyone wanted a jeep. This heroic vehicle had appeared in every
war movie, newsreel and photo sent home from the war.
It became a dream vehicle to the public, especially young boys who
spent many hours driving an imaginary jeep around the farm in search
of the wartime enemies.
The Jeep agency in Perryton had a stack of orders for civilian Jeeps
at the end of the war. If I remember correctly, the Jeep was the first
4-wheel drive vehicle to be offered to the public. After years of
mud tires and tire chains, we laughed at the black gumbo mud while
driving our new Jeep up and down the once-dreaded muddy roads.
Several neighbors in our area bought Army surplus Dodge Power Wagons.
It, too, was a 4-wheel-drive vehicle but was heavier and rode like
a bronc horse out in the pastures.
A friend and I once chased a coyote in his dad's Power Wagon. It wouldn't
go fast enough to catch the coyote and was so rough we couldn't aim
our guns. We finally hit a gully, leaving us with bloody noses and
skinned knees from the sudden stop. The coyote laughed himself out
No one knows how many Panhandle irrigation wells once were powered
by surplus Cadillac Army tank engines. They were cheap, plentiful
and provided plenty of power until something went wrong. Don't repair,
just throw it into the scrap heap and install another in its place.
They were a blessing when running and a curse when idle.
I learned to weld with a used Army surplus D.C. welder purchased by
uncle C.B Trew of Perryton. That old rig served us well for many years,
repairing breakdowns while harvesting wheat and plowing stubble after
I also learned that you better have the right hold on the crank when
starting, or you would have a broken or very sore wrist if it kicked
Wives and mothers cringed when husbands and sons went into their favorite
Army surplus store. The choice of items was endless if you had the
patience to search the storage bins.
I'll bet money that down through the years, I have bought a ton of
surplus casters to use at home or at museums. The big problem was
finding four casters of the same design and measurements.
The next time you watch a parade, notice the restored war-surplus
vehicles purring along like they had just come off the assembly line.
One of the hottest vehicle organizations today is the Military Vehicle
Preservation Association, which incidentally has a local Palo Duro
These preservationists are constantly on the hunt for rusting hulks
sitting in the farm and ranch junk piles of the Panhandle.
Any abandoned vehicle could contain some much-needed parts for restoration.
Call Shawn Elliott at (806) 355-1579 if you know of such treasure.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" -
March 14, 2005 column