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WELCOME FRED - Grandpa Fred's Pickup Comes to Farmhouse Life
by Kevin Wilbeck
April 2009

Tom & Kira Ahart (from Des Moines) take Kevin's check in exchange for keys to "Fred." 

In 1974, my grandpa Fred Wilbeck bought a new Chevy pickup, knowing he was going to retire from farming soon.  He needed a comfortable vehicle to “go to town for coffee” every day.  Unlike past pickup purchases, he ordered this one with options like an automatic transmission, air conditioning, and an AM/FM radio.  Now that was living high on the hog!  Shortly after moving to town, a topper for the pickup was purchased to cover Grandma Gert’s inventory for her growing antiques business.


As Gertrude Wilbeck’s antique purchase negotiating skills grew, she needed to expand into territories where she was not as well known.  Gert was convinced that local people were using her techniques to bid up the things she wanted.  She needed to travel to places where neither she, nor her secret techniques were known.  So, the pickup was soon used to haul a camper for Fred and Gert, while they scoured Nebraska for the best farm auction finds.  As Gert and Fred grew older, their high flying, fast-paced life of auction hunting dwindled and the pickup saw less and less use.


After about 30 years of 4 block jaunts to town for coffee, the pickup was ready for a new lease on life.  My sister, Kira, decided to buy it.  She and her husband, Tom, are restoring a big house in Des Moines.  Restoring a house means you need to haul loads of materials.  And, a big house means big loads.  This task was clearly beyond the capabilities of her Mini Cooper (think go-cart on steroids), so the old pickup got tapped for Home Depot runs.  Even better, the pickup was a good deal (even though Gert made Kira pay for it), because it had less than 70,000 miles on it.


This last winter, Kira decided they didn’t need the pickup any more and offered to sell it to us.  Farmhouse Life needs a good, old pickup and we had been casually looking for one for some time.  In fact, every time I saw an old pickup in some country lifestyle magazine, I had a little bout of coveting and wishing that I had an old beater to haul stuff. 


So, a couple of weeks ago, Kira and I agreed on a deal and I bought Grandpa Fred's pickup.

So now after 35 years, the pickup - - - we’re calling it “Fred” - - - returns to the country.  We don’t plan to ask it to do too much.  Just a few light loads every once in a while.  Maybe even a hayrack ride pull.  Or better still, it can sit in the background when some magazine or newspaper is taking pictures of Farmhouse Life for an article.       


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For more information, call Chris Wilbeck at 515-229-6988.