June 27, 2022

Behold marigolds, flower power is back

By Curt Swarm

Brad Heald is at it again. He has an old 1948 Chevy Dump Truck sitting alongside Highway 34, at the east entrance/exit to New London, filled and overflowing with marigolds. Yup. It started in 2018 when, in honor and celebration of his daughter, Coral’s wedding, which they conducted right there at Heald Trucking’s headquarters, Brad filled the old dump truck with mums and called it the “Mump Truck.” Years ago, Brad saw a picture of a truck with flowers spilling out of the back end and wanted to duplicate it. The mums didn’t survive the winter, so the next year, 2019, Brad used blanket flowers. The blanket flowers weren’t as colorful as the mums and didn’t survive the winter either.

Brad then took a break from filling the dump truck with flowers. But this year Brad was in the flower-power mood again. He had a local greenhouse grow the marigolds, more than 1500 of them, then hired a person to plant the annuals in the dump truck and the ground behind the truck. The effect is quite stunning. Motorists driving Highway 34 stop to take pictures. When the marigolds fully mature, they should bush out and completely swamp the flowery runway pouring out of the old dump truck. Brad has rigged up a soaker-hose watering system.

Heald Trucking is right at the intersection of the Des Moines/Henry County Line Road and Hwy 34, on the south side of Hwy 34. Look for the tall American Flag pole. BTW: the 1948 Chevy Dump Truck belonged to Brad’s dad, and Brad remembers making trips in it to the quarry with his dad. Robins are nesting in the cab of the truck now, singing songs of praise, “Behold, marigolds!”

Brad knows he will have to replant the marigolds each year, but he’s game. Brad does things in a major way. He has, “Big dreams, man. Big dreams!” For example, also this year, he just had built a 20′ x 40′ heated swimming pool on the south side of the Heald Trucking building, which also serves as home for Brad and his wife, Dawn. Dawn wanted the swimming pool for family get-togethers and parties, and Brad couldn’t say no. It’s the only thing Dawn’s ever really asked Brad for.

In order to fill the pool, water was hauled in big tanks from Burlington and pumped in to about three-quarters full. The swimming pool has a vinyl liner on the bottom and sides. Brad filled the pool up the rest of the way with heated water from the tankless water heater in the house. They were able to swim in the 89-degree water the next day. Off to one side of the pool are electric controls for removing and replacing the pool cover. Groovy.

Heald Trucking is situated on 17.5 acres. Brad plans on transplanting palm trees around the outer edges of the swimming pool for that tropical retirement-resort effect. He will relocate the palm trees to a greenhouse in the winter. (I told you Brad Heald has big dreams.)

Dawn and Brad’s home in the Heald Trucking building is no ordinary home. The kitchen is a 1950s retro-stock kitchen. The stove is an original 1956 General Electric, double-oven stove with push-button controls. The custom-made kitchen cabinets have “furniture legs” and the door handles are 1872 cabinet handles. The 1950s kitchen didn’t have a microwave, so it’s hidden in a cabinet. The refrigerator and dishwasher are matching white and chrome Whirlpools, and the refrigerator is a “Big Chill.” The ceiling is tin, and Brad made a kitchen chandelier out of an old hay-trolley rail.

Brad and Dawn plan to add a master bedroom on the east side of the building. Since the Heald Trucking building doesn’t have a basement, they will put a basement under the master bedroom. For now, if a violent storm comes up, they can always go jump in the pool. Heald is not synonymous with yield.

Conntact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com