Book Excerpt: ‘Pickups, A Love Story’

[imgbelt img=pickup02.jpg] Americans are passionate about their pickups. In his new book, photographer Howard Zehr let’s Virginia pickup owners tell their “love stories” about this iconic, rural American vehicle.


Pickups: A Love Story (2013, Good Books), focuses on what he calls “lighter fare”: interviews and photos of Virginia pickup truck owners. In this excerpt, Virginian Steven “Cody” Dean describes what he looks for in a truck and what owning a truck means to him.

As told by Steven “Cody” Dean to Howard Zehr:

It’s my baby, oh yeah. I got this one because I’ve always wanted a bigger truck. As soon as I looked at this truck, I was like, “This is my truck.” I got a job, and I can afford it now. I’ve wanted to spoil myself a little bit, give myself some incentives, so I just got rid of my old truck. I think a week ago it settled in, “You don’t have your red truck no more.” And I was like, “Ah, man. That was my first truck.”

It’s an ’07, a Chevrolet. I think one of the reasons why I went Chevy is—you know Justin Moore, the country artist? He sings a song called “Bed of my Chevy.” And that truck, that same body style, was in Kip Moore’s music video for “Somethin ’Bout a Truck.”

I pulled stuff with my old truck: cattle trailers, horse trailers, and trailers with hay on them. I made it do the job. I trusted it, I believed in it, and it did it. But it wasn’t enough. This one here, I can pull trailers, and I can go anywhere I need to go. I can drive in a truck and feel like it looks good. I have a very big problem with driving a vehicle that doesn’t look good. I want it to stick out, and this one sticks out.

I don’t know if it looks like a redneck truck or not. What it says about me is this is my taste, and you can either like it or you can’t—plain and simple. There’s stuff I wanta put on that truck that people don’t agree with. It’s my truck to express myself—a statement, to be honest with you, to rub in everybody’s faces. When I was in high school, there were people who didn’t think I could make it, didn’t think I would be anybody. It just feels good, drivin’ around and seeing all the people I went to high school with, the ones that doubted me. They see my truck, and they’re like, “Oh boy, he’s doing good for himself.” I have to sit back and just smile. It makes you feel good. Especially because it’s a truck!

Around these areas, we love our trucks. I mean you have not experienced anything until you hop in a truck and drive through the mountains with no idea where you’re goin’. I can do that with this truck. It’s me with my truck, me with the people I’m with, and I’m just cruising. I have not a worry in the world. I’m graspin’ nature. It’s the best feeling in the world. I don’t know why he keeps coming up, but Justin Moore sings another song, “Flyin’ Down A Back Road.” It by far defines the feeling that I get when I’m driving down a back road.

A vehicle that goes off road, like a Jeep—if it doesn’t have a bed, it doesn’t make sense. What happens if I need to help someone move? What happens if I want to take a girl for ride and we get up and we wanta star-gaze if I don’t have a bed to lay in? A truck is everything you want.

So far I’ve changed the headlights, revamped the interior, and put in the Mossy Oak floor mats, windshield visor, and the sunscreen, and I got stickers. All trucks need to have stickers. And every piece of chrome you see on that truck will disappear. I do not like chrome. To me, it’s a different generation. Back in the day, they loved chrome. So many people overuse chrome. Those rims on that truck, they’re gonna be black. With a white truck, black and white looks amazing! All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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