James Droge's

1945 Chevrolet 1/2-Ton

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Back in July of 2008, I sold this truck my cousins Glenn and Vernon Droge. They own Droge Seed Potatoes in Manhattan, Montana. On July 03,2008 we loaded her up on a semi trailer bound for Montana. So... the Pride of the Valley  has gone back home to the Gallatin Valley. ~ Jim  

29 May 2006 Update -- Happy Memorial Day. Let us all remember those who have gone before ...

From Jim:


           Got a new photo of the '45! We are swapping the 216 for a 235 this summer and making a few other upgrades to the truck.


           This site is getting huge! We still love it. Thanks and blessings for the Stovebolt gang!



Jim Droge
Bolter # 7148
Rockford, Michigan

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19 August 1999

From James:

           As we pulled off Interstate 90 at the Belgrade exit, a flash of sunlight reflected off the windshield of an old pick-up parked on a side street along the ramp. The reflection caught Bob's eye and he pointed out the passenger window and said "Hey, what’s that?" I looked over and saw the faded image of an old green pick-up.

           "It’s a pick-up. Let's check it out!" I said. We quickly found our way down the side street and pulled right up next to the pick-up.

           "What is it?" said Bob, as we jumped out of his pick-up. "Looks like a thirty or forty something Chevrolet," I replied as I read the lettering on the upper grille.

           Within two minutes the owner came out to see what we were up to. "This truck for sale?" I asked. "Yah, I’ll sell it," he replied. "What year is it?" Bob asked as we walked around the old faded green hulk. "1945 -- it was built during the war," he replied. "Does it run?" I asked as I lifted the hood on the passenger side. "Naw, the timing gear went out last week in June and I haven’t had time to fix it. She ran pretty good before that. I’d been drivin' it to work at the rock crusher for about a year." "How much do you want for it?" I asked, as we climbed into the cab. "Well, I should get a hundred dollars for it," he said. "Would you take fifty for it and we’ll get it outta here today?" I asked. "Naw, give me seventy-five and its yours," he replied. "We’ll take it," I said, as we climbed out of the cab.

           The next day we returned with $75 and a tow bar and we towed it away. The date was August 19,1976. Bob Boomsma and I were in Montana to visit friends and relatives and backpack in Glacier Park. We had driven from Michigan to Montana in Bob's ’55 Ford F-100. We had always loved old pick-ups and we knew that Montana contained many rust-free old vehicles. We decided to catch an old pick-up to take home while we were there. For three days we had been on a search and we found plenty of old pick-ups to look at. We looked at a '51 International ½-ton for $175 that was a good runner. We had looked at a '49 GMC ¾-ton for $200 and we looked at a '40 GMC ½-ton at the junkyard for $150 but some parts had been sold off and it was not complete.

           Although the mechanical condition of these trucks varied, the bodies were all as solid as the day they were built. This amazed us because in Michigan the bodies rust away long before the mechanicals wear out. Today, I wish that we had bought them all. We towed the truck over to Hilco Van Dykens’ Dairy Farm near Amsterdam and stored it in his tractor shed while we visited Glacier Park. Two weeks later, we left for Michigan with the '45 Chevy in tow behind the '55 Ford. It was slow going down through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Parks, but once we got onto the Interstate 80 we averaged 50 mph.

           That old Ford of Bob’s could really pull a load. When we got the truck back to Michigan, I put new brakes on it, put a timing gear in the motor and removed all the sheet metal in preparation for painting. Then we packed it all away in a barn until 1980 when we moved it to my Dad's barn where it sat packed way in the back until 1998. Then from February to September we got the truck out, got it running, got everything painted, bought a few new parts and bolted it all back together. Sue and I completed all the assembly together. Finally the forgotten pick-up was almost done. (They’re never done, done.)

           Sadly, my Mom died Feb. 17,1998 and so never got to see the finished truck or drive it but where she went she’ll never miss it because the Son shines there every day. We saw Bob Boomsma on an afternoon between Christmas and New Years of 1998. We hadn’t seen him in at least 10 years since he and his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin. He hadn’t seen the truck since 1976. It was so nice to see him. He’s one of those people who comes to mind when you get down and need to think of happy times. I wish we could see him more often.

           The signage on the door of the truck reads, "DROGE SEED POTATOES-PRIDE OF THE VALLEY SPUDS"- Manhattan, Montana. I put this on the door because my Cousin Glenn Droge is a seed potato farmer in Manhattan, Montana and the truck is from Montana. When we bought the truck, the signage on the door had read "BELGRADE CREAMERY- Home Delivery Service-PRIDE OF THE VALLEY- Dairy Products. Everything had been painted over except "PRIDE OF THE VALLEY." And so we have always called this truck, "THE PRIDE OF THE VALLEY."

           Back in September, I got in contact with Bob Nelson of Belgrade, Montana. He and his Dad used to own and operate the Belgrade Creamery. The story on the truck is that it was built for the Gallatin County Airfield in May of 1945 because they were considered, "essential use" as all local airfields were on standby to assist in national security. Bob's uncle was manager at the airfield and so this was his truck. It was originally painted olive drab with gray trim. Around 1951 Bob's Dad bought the truck, had it painted a different green and put the Belgrade Creamery signage on the doors. Then they used it and abused it to deliver dairy products and haul milk cans all over Gallatin and Madison counties for the Creamery through the sixties.

           After this, they used it as a service vehicle on the farm and substitute tractor when needed. He was amazed to hear that the truck was in still in existence and in usable condition. I sent him a picture of the truck. Please be aware that while the pictures make the truck look like a showpiece, it was actually finished to Farm Truck standards. All the dents that were in it when we bought it are still there.

           The guy who painted it said that painting those dents was like putting frosting on horse manure. I didn’t appreciate his analogy but by Farm Truck standards this truck is Grade "A".

           I hope you enjoy the pictures and the nicest feature of this truck is that it makes people smile.

James Droge II
Jim Droge
Bolter # 7148
Rockford, Michigan

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