This 2014 1-ton GMC pickup is this year’s equipment upgrade at Calvary Cemetery. It is the latest in a series of workhorse trucks at Calvary.
When Caretaker Terry Miller started working as a teen at Calvary things were a bit primitive. The cemetery vehicle was a 1929 Model A Ford pickup. The Model A was more notable for what it didn’t have — no floor, no heat, no windshield. It did have a crank starter and a homemade trip-lever dump box. The Model A was not street legal, so any off-the-premises trips were made in personal vehicles.
Taking care of a 40-acre park with lots of stone monuments, a chapel and regular excavation tasks is physical work. So back in the day, a lot more muscle was applied to get the never-ending tasks done. Terry remembers days where the Model A wouldn’t turn over, and he had to use the starter crank.
“I learned how to drive a clutch with that ride,” said Terry. “We used that Model A until the late 70s. Then we got the 1975 International. That was our first truck with a power dump box and heat.”
The International served the cemetery for about 15 years. In 1995, Calvary invested in a 1989 Chevy pickup. Unfortunately, in 2006 a young driver pulled out in front of it while Terry was driving it, and the truck was totaled. Insurance proceeds paid for a 2003 Chevy. The 2014 GMC purchased this year should last 10 to 15 years.
“We are waiting for the dump box to be made,” added Terry.
All the Calvary trucks since the Model A have been 4-wheel drive and all of them street legal to allow for the many trips around town needed for hauling mowers, picking up parts for various pieces of machinery or other incidental errands.
More modern equipment has made it possible to do more with less manpower and be more efficient.
“I believe we are state of the art when it comes to cemetery operations,” said Terry. “A lot of other cemeteries call me for advice on equipment or pretty much anything that has to do with the daily ins and outs of managing a cemetery. Not that I know everything. There’s always something new to learn or a new way to do something more efficiently.”
Terry and Jerry Miller with the International.