When you were young, did you love it when your father came home from work with a present for you? I used to watch TV with Dad on Sunday nights, and sometimes there would be things in the commercials for parents to give to kids as promotional items. When he went to get gas after work one day, Dad once brought me a toy Hess Fuel Oil Tanker. In fuel delivery, Jacksonville probably has trucks that may remind you of toys like that.
I had my toy Hess truck when there were only three commercial TV channels. The Hess toy truck tradition began in 1960 when the toy was given out as a token of good will to customers at Christmas. It quickly became a staple of the holiday season, the toy that many kids just had to have. Leon Hess, the founder of the company, soon added innovative electronics and even included the batteries. And to many parents at the holidays, there could be no greater sign of good will than conveniently including the batteries with an electric toy.
By 1964 the Hess toy truck was equipped with headlights and tail lights that were turned on with a switch at the back, and a cargo tank that the little trucker could fill and empty with an included rubber hose. It was the beginning of five decades of fun for kids across America.
I don’t know what happened to my Hess truck. If I still had it, it might be a collector’s item that could fetch a few dollars. If you have one of these in your attic, basement, or garage, or if you run across one at a garage sale, hang on to it. You don’t know how really precious a childhood memory might be.