MY FATHER LOVED MY MOTHER.
These five words drive the legend of one of the most recognized American icons that still fuels our imagination and ignites our spirit.
Stewart Allen first saw Rachel Ann Reynolds while running the 100 yard dash on the high school team in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. It took an entire semester for him to ask the beautiful cheerleader out. After that first date; they both knew somehow this would last forever. They say with true love that you just know. They married shortly after high school. Stewart worked in his Uncle Bill’s garage while Rachel Ann went to State Teacher’s College.
With Jack Kennedy in the White House and America aiming for the moon, Stewart bought his first rig with a loan from Grandpa Karl. He christened the Mack B61 “Rachel Ann” with fire engine red script across its’ sixty-four inch hood. Stewart loved the open road. The rig “Rachel Ann” was his pride and joy, while the woman Rachel Ann was the love of his life.
An icy road and a bounding 5 point buck was the end of the “Rachel Ann”. Now with 2 children and the national unrest of the late 60s, Daddy gave up the freedom of being an owner/operator and took a job hauling for Arrow Trucking. With years of experience and the dispatcher as a good friend, Stewart was given the “holy grail” of routes- the Coors Run. Through the most beautiful landscapes in America, Stewart took tires from Oklahoma over to North Carolina, then tobacco products out to Denver, picking up a full load of “The Banquet Beer” for California. Eastbound brought California produce back to Colorado and then more “Rocky Mountain Gold” back to Oklahoma (making him a bit of a hero to his friends and making new ones all along the way.)
Although Stewart was driving a beautiful new Peterbilt 359, something was missing. Arrow Trucking policies did not allow any personalization of their rigs. Stewart’s truck would never be a “Rachel Ann”- a rolling tribute to the love of his life.
It was the start of the ‘70’s: the Beatles had broken up, America was still in Vietnam and with Watergate in the headlines no one trusted “the man”. Management kept telling Stewart to trim his mutton chops and tame his thick, wavy brown hair. Backing into the tight loading bay at the Arrow distribution depot, Stewart had an idea that would show everyone how beautiful Rachel Ann was and as a bonus be a “little birdie to the man.” Stewart realized the undercarriage of the truck isn’t seen by anyone on the dock, since the truck bed and the loading platform are at the same height. Unseen by management at the distribution center but seen by everyone out on the road, the MUDFLAPS presented a perfect blank canvas.
There was a picture of Rachel Ann that Stewart always carried with him. On a large slate overhang, Rachel Ann posed like a seated hood ornament looking out at the lake. Her feet together and the wind off the water blowing her hair back, you could tell there was a slight chill in the air as the summer was drawing to a close. His whole life, Stewart would say that he always saw Rachel Ann as she looked in that picture. In his eyes she always looked as beautiful as she did that day, in that light, at that moment.
Like the start of so many great things, the beginning was very simple. Using an overhead projector from the school Rachel Ann was substitute teaching at, my father made a large stencil from his favorite picture of Rachel Ann. He then spray painted the image on his rig’s mudflaps in brilliant red like the original “Rachel Ann” script on his first truck. Although he didn’t mind the occasional retouching of the painted Mudflap Girl from rough road conditions, Stewart found a way to literally make her shine. Using two Triumph motorcycle fenders from the bikes his cousin Patrick was always “restoring”, Stewart cut Rachel Ann from the chrome and bolted her onto the mudflaps.
THE LEGEND OF THE MUDFLAP GIRL WAS BORN !!! Fellow drivers gave short horn blasts of approval as Stewart drove his Coors run. Each time the Mudflap Girl made her way from coast to coast, she became more recognized and more people fell in love with her. Diners put Mudflap Girl Specials on their menus and more than a few roadhouses concocted drinks named after her (usually with Stewart on hand for “quality control”). Imitations began to pop up and Stewart loved the compliments and the comparisons between his Rachel Ann and famous figures (and I do mean figures) and even found praise in the occasional off-color comment. It just meant that everyone saw Rachel Ann as he did; an incredibly beautiful, desirable woman whose mere shadow made men whistle. The best part was that he had the complete woman and her love waiting for him at home.
The 70’s were in full force, rock anthems blasted from FM stations, and Daddy bought a Camaro SS to celebrate the good times. The Mudflap Girl would speed into national fame after a fateful midnight poker game. On the California end of his Coors run, Stewart accepted a poker night invitation from his friend Mike, who had gotten off the road and gone to work as a machinist for Wiz Enterprises in Long Beach. Mike’s boss, Bill Zinda was there and when he saw the sexy chrome figure on Stewart’s rig, he knew it was a hot commodity- one he could sell. Maybe it was Stewart’s good nature or maybe it was the beer, but Stewart took Bill Zinda’s offer to put the Mudflap Girl on trucks across the country as a wonderful compliment and high praise to his beautiful Rachel Ann. He even mailed him a copy of the original stencil when he got home.
Wiz Enterprises had only sold plain mudflaps until then or distributed mudflaps with company or truck manufacturer logos. The Mudflap Girl changed everything. There was no stopping her. Everyone loved “the girl” and to Stewart that meant everyone loved Rachel Ann. Wiz Enterprises expanded their line of mudflaps to include Yosemite Sam famously telling everyone to “Back Off” and the very 1970’s “Keep On Truckin’ “ The Mudflap Girl rode into America’s consciousness.
I don’t know what became of Wiz Enterprises. They went out of business long ago. Stewart stopped long hauling in the 80’s, but Stewart and Rachel Ann were married for 52 wonderful years. We lost him 2006. In celebrating their life and love together, stories of the Mudflap Girl were relived and laughed about. The time seemed right to introduce the Mudflap Girl and all she represents to a new generation. Now trademarked, the original Mudflap Girl is legally only offered on www.MudflapGirl.us
The Mudflap Girl has become part of America, a symbol of the open road and all its’ freedoms. The Mudflap Girl is a celebration of beauty, of womanhood, and of everything men love about women. It all started with one love- Stewart’s love for Rachel Ann!
The Mudflap Girl is a Registered Trademark ® Image