Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tales from the Road: Cattle Call


Did you ever notice how much a livestock trailer looks like a school bus from certain angles?

Today I was driving over to a friend's place and as I came around a curve I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a school bus pulling into a ranch gate.

I thought 'cool, they must have a summer kids program back in there somewhere'.

But as I pulled even with the drive I looked over and saw that what I had taken for the tail end of a school bus was actually the rear half of a goose-neck livestock trailer with a white sun-shade roof. The only thing missing were the big flashing lights.

The thought of us stuffing our kids and livestock into such similar transportation was briefly amusing, but then I was reminded of something I hadn't thought about in over 40 years.

In 1972, when I was in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in central Missouri, that's exactly what they used to do to us. Load us into livestock trailers, only these were the full size, tractor-trailer kind.

You might find this amusing in a quaint, 'embellished memory' sort of  way, but the photo below accompanied an Army  news article  titled:

 NEW 80-PASSENGER SYSTEMS REPLACE OLD "CATTLE CARS" FOR MOVING TROOPS

 


The article goes on to explain that before these were deployed elsewhere, Fort Leonard Wood received a prototype of this new transport for testing in 2001!!!, 29 years after I was livestocked into the bowels of those old, dusty, rattly, noisy, and just generally uncomfortable cattle-cars. 


To be fair, those old livestock trailers had been thoroughly cleaned out so it's not like we were slopping around in bovine waste products. In fact they had even been painted olive-drab, inside and out, perhaps so we didn't feel quite so much like we were on the way to the abattoir, though I'm not sure the prospect of running a obstacle course in the hot sun or sitting around on hard wood planks learning to fire a LAW after a full day of PT and a night of fire-watch was all that much better.






1 comment:

  1. In February 1972 I stood with 3 other guys at the San Diego Airport, after midnight waiting for "our ride" to MCRD for Marine Corp bootcamp. While the Navy recruits nearby got on their gray school bus, we walked into a dark livestock trailer. We rode with no windows, no lights and a hand rail that went down the center of the trailer. Luckily it was a fairly short trip. I still remember that ride in detail today ... but when they opened the doors at MCRD ... a whole new ballgame.

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