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"Fred's Truck"

Ted in Fred's Truck
1948 Ford F-3

A True Story As Told By Ted Hall

Our old green truck belonged to Fred Bertolini, who did odd jobs for us when we first came to the Napa Valley. He always drove the '48 Ford F-2 to our ranch (sometimes his wife would come along and pick blackberries and then make us a pie). I had a standing joke with Fred. Every time I saw him I would say: "Fred, I want to buy your truck." and Fred would say, "She's mine and she's not for sale."

Fred bought the truck new in '48 with money borrowed from his father. He said the truck had been out of Napa County maybe twice: "Once to Lake County and I remember going over the hill to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County with her once." Nevertheless, Fred drove her everywhere after he retired from the local electrical supply contractor. She was always spotless and he had added shiny chrome wheels. Everything else was "original." Everyone in town knew it was "Fred's Truck."

Fred died unexpectedly and I struggled with getting up enough nerve to call his wife to ask her about the truck. Then, on the Fourth of July, we are driving down the road to the annual parade in Calistoga when along side the road is FRED'S TRUCK decked out in red, white, and blue balloons and a FOR SALE sign in the window. I nearly wrecked our car. I stopped and ran back to the truck to confirm what I already knew.

It was Fred's truck.

My family was impatient and anxious that we were going to miss the parade. So, I relented and got back into the car and we went on to the parade. But, I couldn't think about anything other than Fred's truck. When we drove home, I went straight to the phone and called Lois, Fred's wife. She said, "Oh Ted, someone is out test driving the truck right now. I have been hoping you would call." I said, "DON'T sell it. I'll be there in the morning."

The next day I drove to Lois' house and we both cried when I came up the driveway. We went into the garage, she put some of Fred's tools in the front seat and I drove out and parked under the big tree. I asked her how much she wanted (a lot) and I said "done." We never dickered with the price. I handed her a check and drove down the driveway and back to Long Meadow Ranch as we both cried again.

That's how we got "Fred's Truck."

That was 1996. The truck has been a fixture at Long Meadow Ranch and the St. Helena Farmers' Market ever since. And, in 1998, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Ford F-Series trucks, the local dealer, Zumwalt Ford, proudly displayed a picture of Fred's Truck in their showroom.

See Fred's Truck driven by Ted Hall in the 2014 4th of July parade in downtown Calistoga starting at 11 AM on Lincoln Avenue.