The diesel that won't die

Calvin, the Hannaford mayor who recently turned 80, bought the first Chevrolet diesel-engine truck sold at the old Mayville (N.D.) Motors. That was back in 1978.

HANNAFORD, N.D. Calvin Vincent is a bit like his old truck: He just keeps on running.

Calvin, the Hannaford mayor who recently turned 80, bought the first Chevrolet diesel-engine truck sold at the old Mayville (N.D.) Motors. That was back in 1978.

"We'd been diddlin' around, and Kenny thought that I should try a diesel because he knew I put on a lot of miles," he said.

But he wondered if he had a lemon on his hands when Kenny Forsgren called a few months later to say his 1978 Scottsdale 10 half-ton pickup had been recalled.

Calvin, who operates Vincent Construction, got a new engine block and hit the road again, traveling all over the Great Plains, putting up steel buildings and grain elevators, as well as running ready-mix cement plants on construction sites from Brownsville, Texas, to the Canadian border.


"I'd put on 100- or 150,000 miles a year on that truck, easy," he said. "It never stopped running. I'd be in Montana one day and drive to Iowa the next, then go to Texas and back," he said. "I had 1 million miles on it before Kenny conned me into putting in a new 1985 diesel."

That old truck is still running today another 1 million-plus miles later.

Calvin has slowed down just a bit in the past few months, after a heart overhaul triple bypass surgery in June. He missed a trip to Texas in August, where he was one of nine people from across the country honored as a member of the Chevrolet Silverado 200,000-Mile Club. That's 200,000, not 2 million.

With mileage documentation to back it up, Roger Forsgren, Kenny's son, convinced Calvin to tell his story for the Chevy promotion.

On Tuesday, he received another plaque from the company, presented at Finley Motors in Finley, N.D. Finley Motors now operates the former Mayville Motors.

"I was hoping they were going to give me a new truck," he joked.

Not that he really needs one.

"When I'm not working, I'm not driving," he said, "so I don't need anything else."


His wife, Alma, drives a 1984 Oldsmobile. Besides, Calvin seldom trades his vehicles. The yard at his construction office in Hannaford is filled with old pickups and cement mixers, most of them Chevys. He still has the 1973 Chevy pickup he was driving when he bought his '78.

Besides the engine replacements, Calvin has had just one other major repair on the truck a transmission overhaul.

"The rear end's never been touched," he said.

The truck body has seen better days, though. Calvin blames highway salt for the truck's rust.

But there's little rust on Calvin, he says, now that he's on his way to recovery from the bypass surgery.

"I hope to get back in shape, that's what I'm hoping for," he said. "This is the first time in 60 years I didn't pour any cement."

He's says he's a Chevy, "like a rock."

He's been mayor of Hannaford, a Griggs County community of 181, for nearly 40 years and was re-elected last week to another term.


"I never ran once," he said. "I always won on write-ins," he said.

He's proud of new businesses that have opened recently in town. And he'll gladly show off the refurbished City Park located along the banks of the Bald Hill Creek, which features a diving board over a pond, as well as new campsites, restrooms and other conveniences.

"After this past election, I told the city council maybe I'll run the next time," he said. "Then, maybe someone else will get the write-ins and get elected."

Chances are, though, the community will keep him in the running.

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1269, (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or .

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