It was a hot summer day back in the early ’60s and I was a scrawny 7-year-old in my red sneakers and one-piece sunsuit. I was swinging on our swing set just to feel a breeze.

An ordinary summer day became memorable when Dad drove home from the Wakefield Ready-Mixed plant in a cement mixer like this one.  RyanP77/Flickr

I swung high and when I came back down, Dad had pulled up in front of the house in his cement mixer. That was a cool first. He went into the house and had a glass of iced instant Maxwell House coffee with Mom.

As he walked back down our driveway – which was concrete, because what else would it be? – he asked me if I wanted to ride back to the plant with him to drop off the mixer for the night.

Did I?!?!

Climbing up into the cab was like having my own jungle gym: bars to grab onto and pull myself upward and really high steps. Then I slid over on the green, genuine Naugahyde bench seat. There were no seat belts.

Dad put the truck in gear and as we chugged down our road, I waved to all the neighborhood kids. I was Princess of the Cement Mixers.

Once we got up to speed, the air flying through the cab felt strong and fresh. I could see everything this high up! At traffic lights I, little Jody, could look down on grown adults. What a thrill.

The vibration from the engine and the churning of the concrete right behind our heads was enough to make me bounce on the seat. When we hit a pothole I caught air, big time. I bounced around like the silver ball in a pinball machine. I thought this was the best ride ever.

Driving through one town, we passed a yard with kids running through the sprinkler. They stopped and waved to Dad. And of course, they pumped their arms up and down, begging him to pull down on the air horn. I glanced over at Dad. He glanced at me.

“You wanna pull on it?” (Could this day get any better?!?!)

I waved to the kids, because I was Princess of the Cement Mixers, remember? I pulled on that chain dangling from the roof of the cab. Twice.

Those kids went wild.

I shrieked with excitement.

This was power. This was sharing my fun with other kids. This was a carnival ride.

We got back to the plant at Wakefield Ready-Mixed. Dad washed out the mixing drum and punched out. We headed home in the Mercury station wagon. He always drove with his elbow out the window, steering with his right hand. I rolled down my window on the passenger side and hung my elbow out the window, too. I was too small, so my bony elbow banged against the window frame. But I felt great sharing the driver’s seat with Dad.

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