This Chariot Still Rollin’ Along

WAY TO GO–The Petaluma, Calif., corps has a 1951 Dodge van that has been newly renovated and restored; it now serves as a disaster canteen.

At the Petaluma, Calif., corps, Lieutenants Brian and Tina Hoover have been busy–and not the least of their duties has been their service during disasters in the Sonoma County area. Until recently, they’ve been utilizing mini-vans to provide disaster relief since the corps did not have a canteen. The more services they provided, the stronger the need became for a disaster canteen for the Petaluma, Sonoma County area.

As things go in The Salvation Army, word travels quickly and a van was located, although not a modern vehicle. Instead, it was a 1951 Dodge Route Van that needed attention and substantial restoration and renovation. The truck had been in service many years ago in Reno, Nev., where Salvation Army volunteers served freshly made doughnuts and coffee to soldiers preparing for the Korean War. It was used in subsequent disasters throughout the division until several years ago when it was parked behind the ARC in Reno.

Lt Brian Hoover saw the potential in the truck; he needed a disaster vehicle and was determined to restore the ’51 Dodge. After much searching and researching (including renting a Jerry Lewis film in which a 1951 Dodge Route Van appeared!) A proposal for funds was made to the Del Oro Service Extension department. The proposal was approved and Hoover went to work.

With members of the community and corps folks, an entire drive train and transmission were taken care of, and the original engine and lights were restored. The van was rewired and changed to a 12-volt system to accommodate lighting, the generator and, of course, cell phones. After being painted and resealed, a 1950 type font was used for the lettering on the outside of the van. No details went unnoticed. Corps folks restored all the accessories by hand, volunteering a total of 1200 hours during this past year. During the restoration, instructions for the original doughnut making machine were found but no attempt has been made to use the recipe!

Now, the van is displayed occasionally in car shows. It creates much conversation and allows the Hoovers and corps members to share about The Salvation Army. This ’51 Dodge Route Van is now a fully functioning disaster vehicle and ready to roll when needed.

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