Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
The “Blue Goose”
In the late 1940s, after wartime gasoline rationing ended, several high school boys set their sights on a car … nothing fancy, just a set of wheels that would take them here and there around town – maybe a nice Model T Ford. You could probably find one for somewhere around $50.
A few boys had a Model T, but the vehicle I remember most was Bill McCarthy’s “Blue Goose.” It was a dark blue, 1940 Chevy pickup truck. It was a lot newer than those Model Ts, so Bill could drive it to Columbus or anywhere else.
It was really an “all-purpose” truck. One day you might see boys loading bales of paper into its bed to raise money for the Hi-Y club. Or Bill might be delivering stage props to the high school auditorium for the senior play. Then in the fall, boys piled into it for a ride to football practice at the fairgrounds.
Bill was manager of the MHS football team. He sometimes used the truck to move heavy equipment around – tackling dummies and things like that. Then one day our coach, Paul Wenzel, decided he might be able to use the Blue Goose in a new way.
He asked Bill if the truck was in good mechanical condition, and Bill told him it was. “Could it carry our equipment to out-of-town games?” Paul asked. Bill assured him that it could.
Our next away game was with Marion St. Mary’s, only 30 miles or so away. Instead of carrying all of our gear on the crowded bus, the coach had Bill park the Blue Goose just outside our dressing room at the fairgrounds, and we all tossed our gear into the back of his truck.
We headed toward Marion with the bus in the lead and the Blue Goose not far behind. Maybe half an hour later, we got off the bus in the St. Mary’s gravel parking lot. We looked around for the Blue Goose, but there was no trace of it.
So we stretched our legs in the parking lot, as we waited. Fifteen minutes later, there was still no sign of the truck. We walked around to get the kinks out of our legs. Another 15 minutes went by, and still no sign of the Blue Goose.
The Marion team came out of their dressing room and ran toward the field. They began their warm-up with calisthenics. Then they started running practice plays. They practiced kickoffs and punts. They were getting a great warm-up. Meanwhile, we were still walking around in the parking lot.
Oh man, every bit of our equipment was on that truck – shoes, shoulder pads, hip pads, helmets and uniforms … everything. The stands were full, and both bands finished their pregame performances. Coach Wenzel looked nervous. He was normally a very calm guy, but it looked like he was starting to get the jitters. People in the stands wondered, “Where was the Marysville team?”
We were still in the gravel lot. Would we have to play the game without a warm-up? Or maybe the Blue Goose had an accident, and it might not show up at all.
I could tell the coach was upset. Finally the Blue Goose pulled into the parking lot. We retrieved our gear from the bed of the truck and headed for the dressing room. Bill explained that the truck had experienced some sort of mechanical problem, and it took him some time to fix it.
I think the referees limited our warm-up time, but we won the game by a couple of touchdowns. However, that was the last time the Blue Goose carried our gear to an out-of-town game. You might see it carrying kids on a paper drive, or delivering props to the high school auditorium, but that was about it. Coach Wenzel knew he could rely on Bill McCarthy, but he wasn’t sure he could rely on the Blue Goose.
POSTSCRIPT: To prove the “road worthiness” of the Blue Goose, Bill McCarthy drove it to the Indianapolis 500, the following spring. The photo in this column, with Bill in the driver’s seat and Paul Florence on the running board, was taken just prior to departure. An improvised canvas cover converted the truck’s bed into a comfortable bedroom.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at email@example.com
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