by Clint Burgess

We've all seen them -- the old pickup driven by the guy who seems to be as old as the pickup, or older. The paint's oxidized, one of the mirrors is knocked off and some random bumper sticker like "My other car is a bass boat." They're all over, the old truck. Men who have these road beasts and use them often, however, have a different take on what they're old eyesore means

to them.

"It needs a little lipstick and rouge on the outside," says George Skidmore of Otis Orchards. He's talking about his 1979 Chevrolet Sierra king cab pickup. This is not just any king cab either; this truck has the full-size king cab that can fit three hefty grown men with room to spare. You could describe the color of the truck as chocolate brown; it's not much to look at, but it certainly gets the job done.

Skidmore has had his truck since 1981. He bought it when it was just two years off the production line for $7,000. By the sound of things, he has definitely gotten his money's worth. "It has been used to take my family on numerous vacations. I can pull a full-size gator into the bed of it, and when the tailgate is down, it makes a really good ladder," says Skidmore. (Gator capacity is a key element in a truck's macho factor.)

When I was younger, my father had a pickup similar to this. It was a '70s Dodge 4x4, and it was ugly -- mustard yellow with that awful white stripe around the bottom of the pickup. But the truck did everything. It got us up some nasty hills in the winter and provided all the towing capacity we ever needed. Skidmore's pickup is much like the one my father owned, in an ideological sense at least. He uses it on his hobby farm. "I can haul up to two tons of hay in it," says Skidmore. "It's also great for moving 40-foot irrigation pipes."

And even though it's on its second engine and transmission, Skidmore still holds it dear to his heart. "You can see the highway through the floorboards, and my windshield wipers and gear indicators don't work." But his wife did make him a new seat cover for the front bench seat as a birthday gift, and that's all this guy needs to get by.

So why hang on to the old clunker and risk falling through the floorboards? Skidmore answers: "At this point, I don't want to pay $50,000 to get a new pickup like this one. I suppose if someone wanted to give me a new truck I'd probably trade them, but I wouldn't use it as much. I'd be afraid to put a scratch on it."

At the present, this old brown truck from Otis Orchards has got lot going on and still enough kick to get the job done.

The truck is a key piece in putting the finishing touches on the sports fields at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley. "Spokane is hosting the Far West Regional Youth Soccer Championships," Skidmore states. The tournament, which runs from June 21-26, is the largest youth sports event ever to hit Spokane. "There's going to be 240 teams from 14 Western states out here and at the Polo Fields just west of town." These teams will be vying for spots in the national championships, and Skidmore's pickup is making it all come together.

"It is absolutely a working truck," says Skidmore. "How can I give up a pickup like that?"

Publication date: 6/17/04

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