Friday, February 5, 2010

West end of the laundromat

This year Land Line celebrates its 35th year.

Remember how things were in 1975? For those of you who need a nudge back in time, there’s some truly interesting stuff to be found in those little “Remember When” booklets you can buy at Bob Evans and other places. In 1975 you could buy a new house for less than $40,000 and the average income in the U.S. was $14,816 a year. Bread was 36 cents a loaf and eggs were 47 cents a dozen. You could buy a new car for $4,225.

In 1975, “Saturday Night Live” premiered with guest host George Carlin. Cher divorced Sonny. Tiger Woods was born in Cypress, CA.

Watergate convictions made headlines. Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army on April 30, 1975.

The first personal computer was introduced by Altair, and two young guys named Bill Gates and Paul Allen were contracted to write the software.

On TV, we were watching “Laverne and Shirley.” One of America’s favorite movies that year was “Jaws.” Truckers were giving thumbs up to Jan-Michael Vincent in “White Line Fever.”

While many were grooving to KC and the Sunshine Band, thousands of hard-working truckers were listening to a “Convoy,” performed by Bill Fries using his pseudonym C.W. McCall. It was the year Jimmy Hoffa disappeared and work on the Alaskan pipeline began. Unemployment in the U.S. reached 6.5 million, the highest number in 13 years.

What you won’t find in the “Remember When” booklet is that in November, 1975, President Gerald Ford called for legislation to reduce trucking regulation. Trucking was on a fast track to change.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was two years old. After some early changes in leadership, a young trucker from Grain Valley, MO, named Jim Johnston was elected president. Grain Valley is a small town that sits on I-70 about a half hour east of Kansas City. OOIDA’s headquarters has been located there at Exit 24 for many years and of course, Jim is still the president.

But in 1975, the Association’s home was down the highway a bit to the east, in Oak Grove, MO. The office was at the west end of the laundromat on Broadway – that’s the main street through Oak Grove. OOIDA’s total assets in 1975 were reported as $860.36, a figure that Jim says was “generous.”

In 1975, Jim (president and the only employee) decided members needed their own magazine to cover the activities of the fledgling Association and to help grow the organization. Land Line would keep members connected and in the know. The cost of printing Land Line during its first year was $2,613.37. Looking at old accounting documents, I see that appears to be three times what Jim’s salary was for a whole year.

Our first issue went to press in 1975, a proud little black and white magazine that was the official publication of OOIDA.

Thirty-five years after our launch, we’re a bigger media package. Today, a bigger, more colorful Land Line is delivered to more than 186,000 readers. Up to 11,000 visitors a day read staff-written daily trucking news on our Web sites. In 2005, OOIDA went to the satellite airwaves with Land Line Now on Sirius-XM’s Road Dog Channel.

The mission, however, has not changed one bit. Happy 35th to us.