October 23, 2021

Different trucks, variety of personalities

Brockway parade showcases Cortland history

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Stephen Skurnowicz, of Nicholson, Pennsylvania, talks about the history of Brockway trucks Saturday while standing in front of his 1967 Brockway dump truck during the Brockway Show on Main Street in Cortland.

As the parade began Saturday, people grabbed their umbrellas, while others watched from their cars as about 100 vintage and antique trucks traveled from the Brockway Museum in Cortlandville to Main Street in Cortland.

The parade is part of the 19th annual Brockway Truck Show, a four-day event celebrating history between the Brockway Motor Truck Co. and the city of Cortland.

Residents and truck aficionados know the story of how a man named George A. Brockway took over his father, William’s, business in 1889 and in 1909 transformed it into a manufacturer of one of the most popular trucks in the world — until the Cortland plant closed in 1977.

Owning a Brockway truck can only be explained one way. “It’s like a Lay’s potato chip, you can’t just have one,” said Clay Derick, who has two Brockways.

He and his brother Mark Derick traveled from Canada for the show. Clay Derick’s favorite truck is the 1977 model 761 he owns, which is under restoration.

“Everything is torn right down to the frame,” he said. “When it comes out, it will look like it came right out the factory.”

A family friend owned the truck. Derick saw it when he was 12 and promised himself he’d own it, even after the friend had sold it. It was 25 years before he found it for sale again and bought it.

Chad Crawford’s first memories of Brockway Trucks come from the summer and snow days he spent riding in the passenger seat of one his father had bought for the Township of Windham, Pennsylvania. About eight years ago, Crawford was riding his motorcycle through Delaware when he stopped at a truck show and decided to give his people’s choice vote to one man’s Brockway. The man suggested he buy the truck, instead, and Crawford became the owner of a 1971 model 358 that he brought to the show Saturday. It’s not actually his favorite; Crawford has his eye on owning a 1953 model 154 WH.

“It’s beautiful,” Crawford said, pointing down Main Street where one was parked. “It’s got a long sexy hood and it’s not very common.”

John “Stretch” Schoeck, of Canastota, wipes the moisture from the windscreen of his 1970 N361 Brockway during Saturday’s show.

For others, the admiration of Brockway trucks has affected other parts of their life; Richie Zigmont named his son Brock after them.

“Everybody’s got to have a bad habit,” said Zigmont, the owner of 15 Brockway from the 1970s, ’60s and ’20s. He can’t decide which he likes most.

Staying dry under a tent was Gerald Tracy, Alex Duell and Aric Harvey, all from Cortlandville-based Suit-Kote Corp. who drove down three of the last remaining Brockway Trucks the company owns. It’s their third year doing it.

“We just love the environment and it’s nice to see all the other trucks,” said Duell, who loves the 1974 model 361.

Tracy and Harvey both said trucks from 1954 are their favorite.

“They’re unique,” Tracy said. “They’re older trucks and you don’t see them anymore.”