Wider Horizons

Q&A with George KirkhamWider Horizons: International Trucks are a bit of a family tradition, aren’t they?

George Kirkham: Yes they are. My father worked for International Trucks for almost 40 years, and I’ve worked with new trucks during the day and old trucks at night and on the weekends for more than 35 years.

My younger daughter is working in the parts department right now and is working in the registered apprenticeship program offered through her high school. My older daughter is studying to be a nurse and comes out to our parades, shows and other events.

WH: What’s the story behind the little blue pickup truck?

GK: My younger daughter was 13-years-old and this 1960 blue and white International B-100 truck was sitting out back. She spent two years begging me to restore it with her. So we spent 9-1/2 months on it – even getting the wide whites (wide white-walled tires).

Some days were kind of challenging and a lot of days were fun. My daughter knew what she wanted, and we worked toward that goal together.

WH: Why is this 1929 Boulder Dam truck so special?

GK: This very likely was one of the trucks that built the Boulder Dam – what’s now known as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 – International made a movie about it in the 1930s. We believe it to be one of the trucks that worked on the dam.

Only 139 of this model were built and there were lots of them on the dam – it was the heaviest truck that International ever built at that time.

WH: Why do you think people take the time to restore old vehicles?

GK: I think that with a lot of people, the real reason they do this is to bring them back to a place or time in their childhood.

As a kid and young teenager, I always wanted a little Scout pickup. And now I have one – my wife’s favourite truck. I know lots of people who, when they do this stuff, they said “Oh we had this when I was a kid.” It takes them back to what they perceive now as a happier time in their life.

WH: What inspired you to support the college with your company’s recent gift?

GK: I wasn’t a great student in high school. I did take some upgrading and business administration courses at the college but dropped out. But I did learn public speaking skills then, and learned about debits and credits and simple accounting – skills I still use today.

In addition, between 10 to 20 per cent of the parts people and technicians who work at Southland use the college for apprenticeship training, night training or other kinds of training. It was a good fit.

WH: How much time do you spend on this part of your work?

GK: It’s a lot of weekends, and sometimes three or four hours a night after work. My wife and kids are very understanding. We’ve always shown the trucks together.

When we do our open house, they’re all there. When we do parades and shows, they’re all there. It’s a family affair.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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