Owned by John Milliman
St. Mary's County, Maryland
Charlie Dady, father of our friend Mark Dady, bought this 1949 Chevrolet 1-ton pickup new from Dickson Chevrolet in Dickson, Tenn. It wasn’t his first choice for a light-duty truck to serve his appliance and radio repair business.
The elder Dady had made his mark in Dickson County by figuring out a niche market (electronics) and going into it. And when World War Two ended, Dady couldn’t get enough appliances and radios to sell – so he bought a 2-ton Chevrolet box truck to bring in appliances from Nashville. He also bought a ½-ton ’46 Chevrolet pickup to use for deliveries and repair calls (Shown in the last picture).
“That truck burned more oil than it did gas,” Mark recalls, “so Dad eventually took it back to Dickson Chevrolet. They just happened to have a weird truck on the lot that nobody wanted – it was a brand new 1949 Chevrolet 1-ton with a 9-foot step side box on it.”
Dady bought it, took it home and removed the step side body and carefully stored it in the back of the garage.
“The whole time I was growing up, that box was at the back of the garage under a tarp,” Mark Dady remembers.
With a utility body installed (using the step side box’s tailgate), the truck went to work about the same time Dady received the first of what would become an American icon – the television.
“We got into stock one of the first three TV’s in the state of Tennessee,” Mark relates, “And the first in Dickson. This truck delivered it and the antenna that went up on the house.”
Despite being a delivery truck for a thriving electronics business, the truck didn’t accumulate very many miles. In one of the pictures provided by the Dady's, Charlie Dady (left) tends his business in 1948. Many of the appliances shown in the photo were delivered by the Stovebolt Page Flagship.
“Delivering TVs and installing antennae isn’t something you did in the winter back then,” Mark explains. “Or in the bad weather. So the truck sat in the garage for nine months out of the year. Also, that was when they were first paving the roads in Dickson County, so when the truck did go out, it usually picked up a good undercoating of thick Tennessee asphalt!”
The truck’s original engine – a low-pressure, babbitted 216 CID straight six – fell victim to the winter freeze the truck’s first winter in the Volunteer State.
“Dad got sick in December 1949 and the truck wasn’t properly stored. The freeze came and the block cracked.”
The Dadys took the truck to Bates Machine Shop in Centerville for a new crate motor. That motor lasted until 1996. When they returned to Bates 47 years later, a surprise was in store.
“They had rebuilt the original motor and that’s what got put back in the truck in ’96.” Dady says. In 2017, that engine was replaced by a 1959 261 CID straight Six -- rebuilt as a "learning event" by the members of the Old Dominion Stovebolt Society and carefully tutored and monitored by fellow Stovebolter and retired automotive teacher, Jerry Herbison. The engine was generously donated by another Stovebolter, Scott Ward. The original 216, still running great, is on long-term loan to another Stovebolter.
Mark has many fond memories of growing up with his dad’s truck.
“I learned how to drive in that truck,” he says. “I even went on my first date in that truck.”
It wasn’t that romantic, however…
“My Mom rode with us.”
Eventually, the truck got taken out of service (Dady closed his business for health reasons in the 1960’s and went to work as a design engineer for Redcap where he has several patents still in his name) but not out of the family. The step side bed was taken out of its nearly half-century of dry storage and was reunited with the truck.
Except for an additional tail light (the truck came off the assembly line with only one), the engine upgrade and seatbelts, the truck remains mostly original.
“The coat hanger loop my dad installed in the truck for his trips out to Arizona (he had sinus problems and occasionally went out west for relief) is still there
behind the passenger’s head,” Mark explains. “Even the inspector’s grease pen mark remains on the firewall from the assembly line.”
Dady’s truck rolled off the GM truck line at Norwood, Ohio in August, 1949.
While long retired from being the flagship for “Charlie’s Radio Repair” and appliance shop, the Dady truck has entered into its second half century as the flagship for a new medium – a 30,000-member internet web site for antique GM trucks, the Stovebolt Page (located online at www.stovebolt.com
]). Fitting for a truck that delivered the first television set in Western Tennessee – TV being the “new media” of the late ‘40’s.
“I think Dad would be proud,” Mark says.
Charlie Dady passed away in 2006, but his truck lives on as a testimony to his industry and thrift. Its preservation is dedicated to his memory.
“He told me not to restore it,” says Mark. “It doesn’t need it.”
The truck currently serves as the Flagship of Stovebolt.com. We take it to various Stovebolt-related events, local shows and cruises with the Old Dominion Stovebolters. It is not restored. The black paint is original. The red has been applied over the black (back in the early 1990's). It has been slightly modified with the 261 engine, and the rear axle (HO72) has had it's third member replaced with a 4.11 gear set for higher road speeds.
The steering box has been adjusted but does not yet need to be rebuilt -- the truck handles fine at speeds up to 70 MPH.
The truck's original Huck brake system is still installed, but we recently replaced the wheel cylinders and brake shoes. The shoes were sent to a company in Baltimore to be relined.
The bed, having been off the truck for a very long time, still has it's original boards -- they are mostly in near original, pristine condition. While in storage, though, the running boards and splash panels were lost. NOS replacements were found at Hershey and in Arizona.
The windshield wipers work ... sort of. After all these years, the motor probably needs to be cleaned up and rebuilt, but in the meantime, we've found that RainX works great ...
The truck is now on it's third set of tires since new -- 17-inch bias plies. A little bit of a handful at 70 mph, but we find 65 and under to be where we do most of our driving and they do fine in that speed range.
The only thing the truck really needs at this point is a new wire harness forward of the firewall. Under the dash, the original cloth-covered wiring still looks new.
New weather stripping probably would hurt, either ...
WHile the truck really doesn't need to be restored, one of these days we might just see if the original "Charlie's Radio Shop" lettering is still on the doors under the red paint ...
Thanks for being interested in "Ole Charlie" -- My kids couldn't care less about it, but my grandkids like it. Mostly. Our dog loves it.
BTW, two of the pictures in the Gallery above show the truck participated in the Clint Eastwood film, "Flags of Our Fathers" about the Iwo Jima Flag Raisers. One shot is a screen shot from the film that shows the truck in the background behind the three main actors. The other shot is the reverse angle of that shot showing Peggy with the truck, and the memorial in the background. That was a long day (showtime on set was 0400 and we didn't wrap until mid afternoon)