As 10-4 Magazine celebrates their 25th birthday, my silver contribution to this month’s very special issue is about two silver dump trucks, striped in blue, and a love story that is both happy and sad, that deserves to be shared. The “original” truck is Steve Gibson’s first new truck – a 1977 Peterbilt 359. The “tribute” to that truck is his son Steven Gibson’s 2019 Peterbilt 389, painted and customized to match his dad’s original.
In life, there are things that are meant to be, and I believe this holds true in trucking, too. And from the stories I was told, Steve and Jennifer Gibson were meant to be together in both. After graduation, Jennifer Johansen started working for her dad driving a dump truck – an old offset cab Mack. She drove that for a couple of years and then bought a 1974 Kenworth A-Model from her dad. This truck was dark blue with green stripes. There weren’t very many women driving back then, and especially one just out of high school who owned her own truck and company!
At a construction job, this driver, Steve Gibson, who had his own truck and company, as well, met and fell in love with Jennifer. He hounded her for a date, and with lots of persistence, he not only got that date, but he got the girl forever when she said, “I do.”
In 1986, Jennifer bought her last brand-new truck – a 359 Peterbilt. She painted it the opposite of Steve’s, which was silver with blue stripes, making her’s blue with silver stripes. She drove that truck until she was six months pregnant with Steven, and then that’s when she quit driving. She hired Rod Pickett (yes, that Rod Pickett, from the old Trick My Truck TV show) to drive her rig. After Steve and Jennifer were married, they kept both trucking companies. They also built a horse barn, complete with an arena, so Jennifer could board horses.
Talking with Steven, I could hear in his voice the love that his parents had for each other. He told me that it was awesome to grow up in that house filled with their love, along with his older sister Amanda and younger brother Chris, who drove for a while, but now runs heavy equipment.
Steven fondly remembers the day his dad took him to meet this girl who worked at the bank – he thought they should get together. One day, back in 2006, they walked in the bank and Steve hollered across the room to Kathryn that this was his son that he had been telling her about. It took a few years, but his dad was right. They started dating and were married on July 23, 2016, and just a few weeks ago, on August 12, 2018, Kathryn gave birth to their first baby, Grace Lynn. Lynn was his mom’s middle name.
I know about this story because of 10-4’s own Trevor Hardwick. Trevor told me about Steven and the truck that he put together as a tribute to his dad’s old 359, and I agreed that the story was special and needed to be told. Talking to both men, there is a huge connection between Trevor and this family, too.
Steve gave 19-year-old Trevor the chance to drive on his own. The first truck he drove had an 18-speed and Trevor was having trouble shifting it. Steve hollered at him on the radio, “Drive it like a 13!” and Trevor was off to the races. In those days they pulled side dumps, and Trevor remembers it being like Comedy Central on the CB. Back then, Trevor was nicknamed “The Kid” for obvious reasons.
Trevor and Steven became friends, and Steven told me that everything he learned about cool trucks he learned from Trevor. Picking on him like a little brother, Trevor would take Steven with him over the road, after he quit working for his parents. They have some great memories of those trips, back when Steven was picked on like a little bro.
You all know that Trevor is a very talented artist when it comes to drawing trucks, and Steven still has several early pictures, that Trevor drew, hanging on the walls in his office. Trevor said some of those pictures were like drawing stick people, to him, but Steven liked them, so he gave them to him. Steven said that he bugged Trevor and was eventually able to cover his walls with his pictures.
Back in 1977, this 359 was Steve Gibson’s dream truck. Originally, he ordered a long hood, and he had to have a 1693 CAT. But dreams don’t always end up exactly like we imagined them. To be able to get weight up on the steer axle, he had to get a standard hood and, luckily, they had one in stock with a 1693, because the A-Model CAT’s were just coming out. The truck had a 13-speed and 3:73 rears, and they had to shorten the aluminum frame to make the dump box fit. When that truck got all done, it made a statement! People knew that was Steve Gibson’s truck, and she was the one out there to beat, so to say. Always showing up at his customer’s places clean, Trevor said that in her day that truck “was the CATS meow!”
In 1990, Steve sold the old truck, and 18 years later, in 2008, a man called Steven and said, “I’m ready to sell that truck.” Steven didn’t know what he was talking about until he realized that the man thought he was talking to his dad. He was happy to be able to buy that truck back. Steven has found his mom’s old truck and, hopefully, the man who has it now will be willing to sell that truck to Steven, too – then the two trucks will be back together again, as they should be.
Steven’s 389 Peterbilt is painted the same as his dad’s old 359. He wishes he could have put a CAT in her, but her power comes from a 565 Cummins, an 18-speed transmission and 3:73 rears. Sitting nose-to-nose (see photo), it’s funny how much bigger the newer truck is today. Years ago, Steve gave Trevor a pair of double-bucket headlights that had actually been on the old 359, and it’s a good thing that he hung on to them (and never used them). Trevor was more than happy to be able to give those headlight buckets back to Steven, and they now hang on his new 389.
Steven would like to give special thanks to Kevin Pickett at Pickett Repair for doing all the work to get this truck dialed-in. He hung the old headlights, installed the visor, bumper and fenders, and did all the other special touches that made this dream truck come true.
The sad part of this story started back in April 2006, when Jennifer was hearing buzzing in her head and losing her balance. She went to the doctor and found that she had a brain tumor that was benign. The surgery went well, but the very next day her brain swelled, and they lost the woman that was so loved. Steve was a mess, and it was the first time anyone ever saw him cry. At the time he lost the love of his life, he too was having health issues – battling cancer. He beat it once, but when it came back, he joined his wife in March of 2008.
It was then that Steven was thrown to the wolves with the business. At that point in time, the recession was taking trucking companies down at a record rate. Steve Gibson Trucking had 13 new trucks when they lost their top contract. Steven worked hard but, sadly, he had to close the doors in 2011. Now, seven years later, Steven has built Machias Material LLC up to seven trucks. It started out as a retail yard, but today it is solely a trucking company.
This couple’s love story, and their trucks, live on because of the passion that they instilled in their oldest son. Keep up the good work, Steven – your silver “tribute” truck is amazing, and I’m sure your dad would be proud!