The Story of Dewey...the Red Ford Pickup Truck
In 2003, when work began on a new elementary school in Dayton ISD, soon to be named Kimmie M. Brown Elementary, Elizabeth Harris, the principal of the new school, began imagining what the new school would become. Her vision for the school inspired her to create the motto of the school, “Moving Forward”. As Mrs. Harris developed the designs and color schemes for the new school, librarian Mrs. Paula Fielder was also at work designing the library. Mrs. Fielder envisioned a library that captured the spirit of a children’s picture book, with clouds on the lower level of the library and images in the dome that reflected a journey into deep space. She also wanted to create a reading center under the dome, and in keeping with the theme of “Moving Forward”, began exploring the possibility of placing an old pickup truck in the library for kids to sit in and read. When Mrs. Fielder approached Mrs. Harris about finding an old truck for the library, the search was on! A few weeks later, having discovered that Wilber and Patsy Dewey of Dayton had an old Ford pickup in their backyard, Mrs. Harris asked the Dewey family if they would consider selling the Ford pickup truck for use in the new elementary school’s library. Mr. Dewey’s response was in keeping with the generosity that described him and his family, when he answered, “No, I will not sell you the truck, but I will give it to you.” And so began the long journey taking an old 1945 Ford pickup truck into a new life of serving the children of Dayton ISD.
Now a search began to find someone who could restore the old truck and make it safe for putting into an elementary school. The J. C. Burnham Ford dealership in Liberty, Texas offered to restore the truck, and once again, the generosity of a local family was encountered, as Mr. Burnham and his talented crew of restoration artists completely restored the truck at no cost. The color chosen for Dewey was “Ford Truck Red”. The truck’s engine was removed for safety, as well as the glass headlights. Once the restoration was finished, Mr. Cory Ripkoski, the owner of Western Auto in Dayton, put four brand new tires on the truck, giving them to Dewey and the school.
Along the way, during the planning stages of how to restore and move the truck, a name was given to the truck. What could be more perfect than having a truck named Dewey, after the family who gave him to the library? The fact that libraries use the Dewey Decimal System of Classification was just one more perfect piece of the Dewey story.
Moving day came, in the summer of 2004, and the front door to the hall leading to the library was removed, Dewey’s fenders were also removed, and several men from the maintenance department pushed Dewey down the hall and into the library. Sitting in the driver’s seat was Principal Harris, steering the slow-moving Dewey into his resting place in the Kimmie M. Brown Elementary Library.
Dewey has been helping children read for many years. He is the center of the library, and the school, at Kimmie M. Brown Elementary. Other principals have followed Mrs. Harris, and other librarians have followed Mrs. Fielder, but one thing is for sure. Dewey has their hearts too, and always will have the hearts of anyone lucky enough to work with and teach kids to read alongside Dewey, the red Ford pickup truck at Kimmie M. Brown Elementary School.