Death Cab

Death Cab

Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles, Part VI


Ford L-Series. My boss had a small fleet of them.

I couldn’t help but notice the huge blood stain on the headliner of truck 66. The burgundy splatter pattern loomed above my head in the cab — a constant reminder of a fatal crash.


I wouldn’t learn the gory details until I’d been driving the truck for a couple of months — nightly runs from Cleveland to Akron and back. I was hauling U.S. Mail for a contractor named Walter Johnson. (More on Walter in future posts.)

On that fateful night, I backed truck 66 up to the dock at the Cleveland Parcel Post Annex on West Ninth Street. It was a Sunday night and the only one around was an old black man. He fit right in with the dreary setting of the lakefront loading dock — weathered face, glazed eyes, grimy coveralls, tattered work gloves.

He looked at the number on the back of the truck.

“Number 66,” he muttered. “Man died in that truck one night.”

As he rolled several carts of mail into the back of the truck, he described the accident in  detail. Apparently, the driver who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, took a curve too sharply and the truck toppled onto its left side.

“He went out the window and got pinned between the top of the cab and the street, almost cut him in two,” he said, closing the overhead door on the back of the truck.

My stomach churned as I climbed down from the dock.

As I headed toward the cab, I heard the old man say, “And he was a white boy — just like you.”