“How it All Happened: “Me and My Truck are for Amy Tuck!”
by Charles Pittman
It all started for me back in 1960, forty-seven years ago, as a twelve year old Boy Scout in Clarksdale, Mississippi, handing out “Nixon for President” campaign fliers door to door on Maple Street for then Vice-President Richard Nixon. Seven years later, I was a 18 year old trombone player for the late Lt. Governor Charlie Sullivan’s Dixieland Campaign Band, in Charlie’s successful 1967 campaign for MS Lt. Governor. After graduating from Delta State in 1970, I moved to my Mother’s ancestral home of Grenada County and volunteered during former Governor William Winter’s campaigns of 1975 & 1979. Also, in 1979, I was elected myself to the MS State Senate, District 15, to represent Tallahatchie, Yalobusha and Grenada Counties and served one term. I did not seek re-election.
In 1995, I worked as a campaign volunteer for Governor Kirk Fordice’s re-election. In 2002, I was a Campaign Field Rep. for Congressman Chip Pickering’s re-election. In 2003, I served as a Campaign Field Rep. for then Gubernatorial Candidate Haley Barbour. Since 2004, I have been a consulting member of Governor Barbour’s Constituent Services Staff.
Forty-seven years of my fifty-nine years have been intertwined with Mississippi political campaigns. But it was in 1999, when a simple idea I had, while serving as a consultant for Amy Tuck’s first Lt. Governor Campaign
evolved into what most Mississippians remember me for and continue to ask me about the most.
Over the past eight years, much has been written about the bumper sticker, “Me and My Truck are for Amy Tuck.” I gave birth to this idea, in the Spring of 1999, for then Lt. Governor candidate Amy Tuck. I had known Amy since she was a high school student and served as a MS Senate Page for my late friend and Senate colleague Sen. Bill Harpole of Oktibbeha County. Bill was also the legendary Oktibbeha Sheriff who once arrested the late country music star Johnny Cash one night in the 1960’s for picking flowers at the Starkville Courthouse. Al Tuck, Amy’s big brother, is one of my best friends.
The Clarion-Ledger’s Marshall Ramsey, several years ago, thanked me publicly during his program at the Clinton, MS Lion’s Club, for having written the “Me and My Truck” bumper sticker for Amy and thus having provided him with the inspiration and material for so many of his C-L Editorial Cartoons.
During my numerous civic club program presentations, across Mississippi since 2003 for Governor Barbour, I am always asked by the audience, without failure, as to how I came up with the “Truck” bumper sticker idea?
In April of 1999, then Sec. of the MS Senate, Amy Tuck, her campaign aide Brian Fowler and I drove to Hattiesburg for a campaign strategy lunch at Chesterfield’s with former MS Lt.
Governor Evelyn Gandy. During the lunch, Governor Gandy advised Amy that she would have to receive a significant number of adult, rural male votes to ever have a chance at
being elected. Governor Gandy stated, “I know that fact, more than anyone else in Mississippi.” Governor Gandy went on to advise Amy that she would have to come up with something that would make it acceptable for the men of Mississippi to remain “manly” and also be on record publicly for supporting a woman at the same time.
While listening to their conversation, I pulled out a paper napkin and started writing down some of the things that I knew meant most to my fellow rural Mississippi men, whom had “never voted for a woman” before; Jesus, mama’s wives, children, dogs, boats, guns, 4-wheelers, boats, deer stands, trucks and often not necessarily always in that particular order. Then I scribbled “Amy Tuck” on the napkin.
I continued, by dropping the A on Amy, coming up with “My Tuck.” Then I asked myself, “What means a great deal to most rural, voting age, Mississippi men that also rhymes with Tuck?” Answer: Their trucks! Then, it appeared to me on that paper napkin for the first time, “Me and My Truck are for Amy Tuck.” When I showed my idea to Governor Gandy and Amy, all they could do was smile! The “Me and My Truck” bumper sticker soon caught on like a Mississippi grass fire in summertime!
Initially, 500 were printed up and all snatched up the first day by truck drivers in Jackson and at the I-55 Exxon Truck
Stop in Winona, Mississippi, where our friend, MS Rep. and Senator Billy Lancaster had anointed his restored 1949 Ford Flatbed Truck “The Tuck Truck!” 35,000 bumper stickers and many TV campaign commercials later, “Me and My Truck are for Amy Tuck” became part of Mississippi Political Campaign History.
The late Billy Lancaster’s “Tuck Truck” is now on display at The Jim Buck Ross AG & Forestry Museum in Jackson.
In one’s life, politics and almost all other areas, I have learned that is very often the little things that make the big differences.
I drive “My Old Truck” every weekend, in my adopted hometown of Raymond, Mississippi.
To quote Mississippi’s Charlie Pride, “Roll On, Mississippi! Roll On!
Office of Governor Haley Barbour