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The 1961 International Harvester Travelette

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

The 1961 International Harvester Travelette

Bill Crittenden
December 26, 2013


So, a few months ago, I saw an unusual classic pickup truck parked in the grass outside my son's elementary school when I was taking him to his Cub Scout meeting.  I took a bunch of pictures, different angles, detail shots, the usual.  Of course, those pictures went into The Crittenden Automotive Library, and based on a quick Google search, I put them up on the International Harvester Travelall page.

I had been waiting for an incident like this to happen.  I'm actually a bit surprised it hadn't happened yet.  But I'll post it here because I couldn't ask for a more textbook case.

Enter Mike Keller

Oh, yeah, he's actually been quite public about his ownership of the truck, so I don't have any reservations about mentioning him by name.  More on that later!

(Edited to remove location and reason for being there, of course.)

My Truck on your site!

I just stumbled upon MY truck featured on YOUR site... The photos were obviously taken while I was at -- --------- ------ ---- in ---------, --... I do appreciate your interest in the truck, but I have a couple of requests...

First - It is not a Travelall... It is a Travelette... Calling it a Travelall, not only makes you look like you don't know anything about old IHC's, but it is an insult to those of us that take them very seriously...

Second - I'd like for you to scramble/censor my licence plates... I don't want the whole world to be able to find me...

Please make these changes ASAP or remove the photos completely...

Look under "light duty trucks" on this page...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Harvester

Also see...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Harvester_Travelette

Thank you,
Mike Keller


Now, as this was sent at 2:33 pm on Christmas Eve as we were preparing for a house full of people, I didn't read it until later.  Even then, I kinda sorta half read it and fired off a quick response, as I actually only had my phone out to take a few pictures of gift opening.  You know, actual life events more important than old pickup trucks, even to me.

So at 7:18 I replied:

Hello Mike, I'll get to it as soon as the Christmas parties are over.  I'll email more later, just a quick question, what's the difference between Travelall and Travelette?  I don't know IH very well.


It was then that I noticed not only was the original e-mail also copied to the wall of The Crittenden Automotive Library's Facebook page but then I started getting alerts from Mike's trolls, friends spending their Christmas Eve posting demands and childish crap to that Facebook wall.  I wish I had saved them, but really, I actually have better things to do.  With their attitude, perhaps it was no wonder that they didn't this holiday.  Who would want to be around that?

So then, after the party had ended, the house had cleared, and my wife had gone with the family to church, I sent one last message to Mike before bed.

Hello Mike,

After reading the rest of the tone of your message and meeting some of your "friends" online I have decided that of course I will move the picture to the appropriate page...unedited.  I'll also be writing about our little shared experience.

There is of course one great way to make sure your truck isn't photographed that every car photographer recognizes:  leave it in your garage.  I suggest it next time you don't want a rare classic truck with vanity plates photographed.

You seem to really take yourself and your truck a bit too seriously.  Really, it's one of thousands of cars and trucks on my site.  Mistakes in classifying them happens, especially with ones that are of little relative importance.

Merry Christmas!


To his (very little) credit, he responded back:

Sorry, I didn't mean to seam rude... I emailed you a couple weeks ago and figured you ignored me... Merry Christmas to you as well...


A Note on Priorities

I remember vaguely getting some e-mail about an International Harvester truck a few weeks ago while I was out of the house.  Usually something like that gets filed as a "To Do" and I get to it when I'm working on the Library again, but I can't find it now.  That's how it is with a constant stream of press releases, government notices, random questions and spam coming into my inbox daily.  I have over 1,700 emails yet to get to spread across 3 e-mail accounts.  The reason I haven't gotten to them all is basically because I have a family and a job, which usually take precedence over my Library.

I'm only one guy, sometimes feeling as though I'm trying to catch an ocean in a Solo cup.  I miss things.  I make mistakes rushing from one project to the next.  My most embarrassing one?  I usually copy an existing file to create a similar topic, and it took me 2 years before I came back to my Chrysler Town & Country page that had said it was a sports car made by Chevrolet.  I'm guessing I had my Corvette file handy at the time and copied it to make the Chrysler page.  Long story short, even a .1% error rate means a lot of mistakes are going to be made with the volume of information I handle.  I just do my best and fix mistakes when I find them.  But I am not going to postpone family holidays for such an insignificant little thing as a pickup truck on the wrong page of the Library.

Back to the Travelette

So I Googled International Harvester Travelette, and sure enough, a crew cab pickup truck, International Harvester, blah, blah.  I'm tired, it's Christmas, I just want to get the pages changed and go to bed.

Then I see Mike's truck again.  Thinking that if seeing his truck on my little Library with his license plates on it has his panties in a bunch, seeing it in Wikipedia with a partial obscuring that only a complete dumbass couldn't figure out has got to have him in a nuclear rage.

Not that you really have to decode it off of the Facebook picture, he posted his e-mail message to me on Facebook, publicly, acknowledging not only that it's his truck (publicly) but also letting "the whole world" know where he was and why he was there.  Not smart.  But as I said, he's willing to publicly acknowledge it's his truck and his license plate, so I'm comfortable using his name here.

Anyway, then I saw the real bombshell on the Wikipedia post:  "Source: Mike Keller"

Mike Keller's 1961 International Harvester Travelette
So, Mike goes full tinfoil hat that my pictures are going to have some professional International Harvester thieves lurking around his truck or he's going to be inundated with classic truck paparazzi ("I don't want the whole world to be able to find me...") but has no problem posting the same, himself, on the fifth-most-viewed internet site on the planet?

Cue the clip of John Boehner suddenly yelling, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"  No, edit that,"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"

I think Mike's actions this holiday speak for themselves about the kind of person he is, anything I could say from here on out about him specifically would just be piling on.

So I'll move on to general lessons from this experience that I'll commit to public record so as to keep them available for further such instances, using Mike as the "textbook case."

Photography

Has anyone seen the episode of Top Gear where they drive "budget supercars" down the street and see just how many pictures people take of them?  Seriously, if you drive an unusual car, and you don't want it photographed in a society that has eight-megapixel cameras in every other cellular telephone, which are connected to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, and too many other sites to name, the only safe place for it is in a garage.  A garage with no windows.  Under a cover.  Did I mention that the garage should be in Saskatchewan?

Even if you don't have a special vehicle, you may not draw as much attention, but the same applies.  We're photographed and videotaped almost everywhere we drive.  Cut somebody off or attract someone's attention in some way, and you might end up on someone's Twitter feed or blog rant.

Oh, and if you have vanity plates that  match the vehicle, they sorta become part of the display.  You can't be looking for much privacy when you pay the state extra for the privilege of publishing your car's details on the front and the back for all to see as you motor on down the road (year, engine, etc.) in public.  And if they are funny, ironic, or you slipped a profane code past your state's regulators, they've just become their own camera magnets and Facebook fodder.

They're Not Coming To Get You

I have seen people take plates off and tape over VINs at major car shows when they know hundreds of people are going to be taking pictures and getting up close to their car.  I've seen others post their build sheets, car histories and more along with the names & hometown of the owners.  So I know people have a wide range of attitudes on this topic.  Just don't go Alec Baldwin on someone who thinks your very rare vehicle is interesting enough to photograph.  Be nice, explain your issues, and don't let others make a fool out of you, and maybe photos will be politely and quietly edited instead of becoming the subject of an article on automotive photography!

Maybe if you had a mint condition Tucker you could be concerned, but to think that someone is stalking the far reaches of the internet ready to go full Gone in 60 Seconds on a car they could find much more easily with access to a state license database or buy legally from Mecum for ten grand really is tinfoil hat territory.  Considering the popularity of Alex Jones, though, I understand tinfoil is a popular fashion accessory these days.  If this describes you, you should be embarrassed.  You're probably not, but you should be.

Even if you have a Tucker, the same applies.  Don't be an asshole.  Your car does not give you an excuse to be one, whatever that car may be.

Your Brand

Speaking of being an asshole about the kind of car you drive...

Most people I know have a favorite marque.  In the case of an unusual marque, whether you want to or not, you represent your brand to people who are just learning about it.  I wasn't such a "Pontiac guy" until I went to a few all-Pontiac car shows and found the people there to be fabulously friendly.  They were all so very eager to share their stories and their knowledge.  It made me proud to be a Pontiac owner, they welcomed me as one of their own despite mine being as far from a classic GTO as Pontiac ever got, and that's being reflected in my preferences of what to photograph and work with in The Crittenden Automotive Library and what I want to buy when I have the chance again.

So now this was my first experience with a die-hard International Harvester guy and his friends, and I'm just left wondering, "are they ALL such douchebags?"

Mike says, "Calling it a Travelall, not only makes you look like you don't know anything about old IHC's..."  Guess what, Mike?  I don't.  Really.  As one minor marque among hundreds of far more historically important ones, I hadn't gotten around to learning much about them yet.  And now that I know that's the attitude you guys take about them, I really don't care to get to know anything else about International Harvesters.  Really.  If they attract that kind of fan, I'm not interested.

I don't pretend to know everything about every car.  But when I encounter someone who doesn't know what I do about one of a thousand kinds of cars & trucks in the world, I don't talk down to them like they just stumbled across modern society after being raised by wolves.  I'm eager to educate.

I'm also eager to learn, knowing only that my experience and knowledge is limited and they probably have more than a few things to teach me that I don't yet know.  Bill Nye said, "everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't."  I've met over the internet guys from Britain who are teaching me a lot about European cars while they haven't even heard of some of the cars I refer to that every American "car guy" I know knows about.  Being the kind of people we are, we find this to be rather fun.  Those are the kind of people I want to be associated with, and I enjoy learning more about their cars.

Mike says, "it is an insult to those of us that take them very seriously."  :Chances are, whatever your favorite type of vehicle is, at least six and a half billion people around the world couldn't care less about them.  So when you take yours so seriously you spend your Christmas Eve sending your little troll buddies out to attack a Facebook page with but a few hundred Likes, and they're all just so enraged that they have no problem interrupting their holiday plans to defend the honor of an obscure brand of trucks on an even more obscure internet site, you look like childish little fools with no concept of real world priorities.  And then you expect everyone else around you to share the same high regard for your chosen obscure vehicle, especially after acting like that, you usually tend to do the exact opposite, making your brand look just as respectable as the automotive equivalent of North Korea.

Most people are looking for a positive, asshole-free classic car experience.  So instead of embracing International Harvester as I did Pontiac, I feel sure this morning that it's not a brand worth wasting my time on.  And as I've spent a bit of that time writing this already, I'm past due to move on...



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