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Monday, June 22, 2015

Ode to Jerr-Dans


If you’re an ordinary motorist who needed a flat changed or a battery jumped, the call to AAA for help probably was answered by a fellow in a specially outfitted car, or a tow truck. If you’re an exhibitor at an art show and the van lets you down coming or going,  you tell the AAA operator to send a Jerr-Dan because your vehicle weighs eight or nine thousand pounds, is extended, and is going nowhere on the end of a hook.

Over the weekend Emily helped Linda at the Worthington Art Festival, a suburb north of Columbus, Ohio. On the way to the motel after setting up Linda realized her van was not shifting properly. She left it at the motel for the weekend, and she and Emily hitched to the show with fellow exhibitors. She drove in to the show on Sunday, they packed up Sunday night, and Linda called Triple A. She asked them to be there at seven; they arrived about ten.

The driver put her van on the Jerr-Dan and drove the two of them two hundred miles back to Columbiana. He put them down at Linda’s mechanic’s garage, they hitched another ride to her house at two a.m., and all ended well with a new transmission line.

It was Emily’s first Jerr-Dan adventure, and she asked me about some of my more memorable Jerr-Dan moments. In truth, I only came home on a Jerr-Dan once, but did have a ride on a Jerr-Dan to a garage that replaced my radiator on the way to a show.

I have seen exhibitors arrive at a show on a Jerr-Dan, unload their van and send it on to a garage for repairs while they put on their show. That probably sums up the fortitude of every exhibitor I know. The show always goes on.

Ann and I had a Jerr-Dan angel pull up behind us, on Interstate 84 in the Catskills in New York State. We were leaving the New Paltz spring show some Memorial Day Monday. It was still very light out. I was passing a semi on a two lane section when there was an explosion and a tire blew at seventy miles an hour. The noise confused Ann, but I knew, and quit passing the truck and got to the berm when the truck was clear. “Blew a tire,” I told her, and got out to assess the damage.

I was on the phone with AAA shortly, and the operator told me it would be several hours; we were in a very isolated piece of upstate New York just for starters, and it was the holiday weekend. Just then a Jerr-Dan pulled in behind us. “Never mind,” I told the operator. “He’s here already.”

An elderly fellow climbed down, we unloaded the van to the extent of accessing the spare. He changed the tire, we reloaded the van and I asked him how much I owed him. “Nothing, m’am,” he assured me. He was retired and spent his spare time cruising the interstate in his Jerr-Dan, looking out for trouble to fix.

Ann came round the back with a tin of her oatmeal cookies and insisted he take a couple. He did, ate one, reached back in the can for a couple more, and then said, “Now, I’m going to follow you girls to the next exit and I want you to pull into the service station there. That spare tire is low; I’ll fill it up and check all your tires and send you along. I’ll need to charge you a couple more cookies.”


22 comments:

  1. That's the kind of tow truck that's helped us out, didn't know there was any other kind. Couple of cookies sounds good.

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  2. LOVE the cookie story. And a man who looks for trouble to help out with.

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  3. Hari OM
    will work for crumbs, huh? What a delightful reminiscence... though I admit I had to look up 'jerr-dan'! Quite the bit of 'heavy plant'... vroom vroom. &*> YAM xx

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  4. How about that...a highway angel.

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  5. That is a story that should be on the 6 o'clock news...but never will.

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  6. A hero is what you met. What a nice man.

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  7. That was sweet with that man offering his services like that for "just" a few cookies. I don't think I have ever seen a Jerr-Dan or had something towed by it, seems like an adventure!

    betty

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  8. What a stroke of luck to have him right there just when you needed help, and to have him work for cookies!

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  9. what a wonderful person to find you just when you needed them. I had no idea what jerr dan was but I have had many a car towed on similar ones. Gary worked as a tow truck driver many years ago and a car he pulled up from a cliff had a woman still alive in it and she eventually recovered. thank goodness for all the tow truck drivers.

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  10. What a lovely story that last one is Joanne. There are still wonderful folk in the world even if we don't always find them.

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  11. Never heard of the jerr-can before. What a great tale! Who eould have thought therewould be some kind of angel out there doing it for the pleasure of helping -- and the occasional cookie, of course.

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  12. glad to know there are still some angels looking after us.

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  13. OMG Joanne. I remember one evening at the Marburger Farm Show at Round Top, TX, standing in a muddy field, in a cold pouring rain, crying. No one would help pull my truck/trailer from the field to pack up for the end of the show. I think that was the last show I did.

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  14. wow what an interesting way to spend your retirement time. Always carry home made cookies on long trips - new advice to share.

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  15. That is so sweet, and thanks for the photo.

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  16. What a great story that is.
    Wish I had a dollar for all the times I've waited for the AAA truck. First two years my husband and I were married, the longest our two cars ran at the same time was two weeks. And one of them was new! Then, the kids -- that have locked the keys in the car while it is running and have lost the other set. Or, the time....

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  17. I was the one responsible for Emily's first Jerr-Dan truck ride. Although delayed due to a screw up at AAA dispatching, we were thankful to get home to my mechanic and a friend who got us to my home by 2am. It is all about being "on the road". I used my 200 mile AAA tow and it was 181.2 miles. The driver was not happy but did cheer up with our encouragement. He did not want a 6 hour tow job and neither did we. Emily has a new experience to add to her "roadie" journal. i knew Joanne would understand and have something to add. Thanks to Ann and the cookies. I did offer the driver, George" a water but he was on Mountain Dew so had his won liquid and caffeine. We survived. My mechanic was glad I didn't try the trip as i would have blown my transmission on Sara #II. joanne can explain Sara. Glad it is over and getting ready for Toledo in 3 days.

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  18. I was the one responsible for Emily's first Jerr-Dan truck ride. Although delayed due to a screw up at AAA dispatching, we were thankful to get home to my mechanic and a friend who got us to my home by 2am. It is all about being "on the road". I used my 200 mile AAA tow and it was 181.2 miles. The driver was not happy but did cheer up with our encouragement. He did not want a 6 hour tow job and neither did we. Emily has a new experience to add to her "roadie" journal. i knew Joanne would understand and have something to add. Thanks to Ann and the cookies. I did offer the driver, George" a water but he was on Mountain Dew so had his won liquid and caffeine. We survived. My mechanic was glad I didn't try the trip as i would have blown my transmission on Sara #II. joanne can explain Sara. Glad it is over and getting ready for Toledo in 3 days.

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  19. I don't believe I'm mystical beings, but that man who helped you out was truly was an angel.

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  20. I have never even heard of a Jerr-Dann before. What a great story. Something similar happened to Richard and me when we were traveling on I-70 out of Colorado. Scariest moment every when the tire blew at 70 mph. (Knowing Richard it was probably closer to 80) We pulled over and began to unload the trunk from all our luggage when our guardian angel (in the form of a young family of four) came to the rescue. He changed the tire and followed us to the next town. No one could find a new tire to fit our vehicle so we rode the rest of the way home on the donut!! Thanks for the memories.

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  21. What a great story, Joanne. Bless that elderly man!

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