Leslie M. Rupracht: “Hess Trucks and the End of the Double Standard”



Hess Trucks and the End of the Double Standard

Dad’s inner child 
drove him to the Hess Gas Station 
weeks before Christmas. It was his yearly 
excursion to buy his son a toy truck—

the kelly-green-and-white kind that takes two C’s, 
double-A’s or 9-volt to set head- and taillights flashing, 
sirens wailing, and guarantee a young boy’s delight 
with Santa’s perfect selection. 

The son collected an array of models 
with varying numbers of axles for a few years 
before his older sister received her first.
“I thought it only fair,” 

explained Dad to his daughter 
on that milestone Christmas—she, 
old enough to know about Women’s Lib, 
Equal Rights, and seventy cents on the dollar, 

and he, thinking she’d want a Hess model truck 
over Breyer model horses or a bright orange 
Easy Bake Oven. Three decades later, 
in a long distance call, 

Dad tells her he just visited Hess, bought 
the special 40th anniversary edition truck 
for her brother—sibling equity 
now a notion forgotten. 

Only weeks before, 
he proudly announced buying collectible 
model cars for his four grandkids—
all sons of his son.


About the Author: Leslie M. Rupracht is an editor, poet, writer, and visual artist living in the Charlotte/Lake Norman region of North Carolina since 1997. Her words and artwork appear in various journals (most recently Gargoyle), anthologies, group exhibits, and a chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag, 2012). Longtime senior associate editor of now-retired Iodine Poetry Journal, Rupracht also edited NC Poetry Society’s 2017 and 2018 Pinesong anthology. Swearing off a corporate work relapse, Rupracht co-founded and hosts Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic in Huntersville, NC.


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Old gas station and pumps outside tiny Kent in Central Oregon” (2018) The Library of Congress



By James Weldon Johnson

Eternities before the first-born day,
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame,
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same,
A brooding mother over chaos lay.
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay,
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim
The haven of the darkness whence they came;
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way.

So when my feeble sun of life burns out,
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep,
I shall, full weary of the feverish light,
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt,
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep
Into the quiet bosom of the Night.

(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. In addition to being known for his leadership of the NAACP, Johnson was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture. (Annotated biography of James Weldon Johnson courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: This Yuletide season I have been thinking—and writing—about ancient holiday traditions that we still practice, and how we received them. So when I came across today’s poem I was struck by the homage it seems to pay to the ancient festival of Mothers’ Night. This winter celebration was held on the eve of Yule, and celebrated The Mothers (goddesses) giving birth to the sun and the new year.

Beyond its title, today’s poem is rich with images of this ancient holiday: the night of labor, the birth of the sun, and the cycle of a year, when “whirling suns shall blaze and then decay.” Yet just as winter is a kind of death, in the second stanza the poet turns “Mother Night” into a metaphor for his own eventual death, imagining that when his time comes he will “Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt” and “softly creep / Into the quiet bosom of the Night.”

Want to see more by and about James Weldon Johnson?
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