Truck Tale

Things were rough for Jamaica in the 1970’s, and that’s what was broadcast.  Tourism was bust, and there was nothing in the grocery store to buy.  I flew from New York City to Montego Bay with peanut butter and toilet paper on the $99. Air Jamaica Special.  Friends would join me, and we’d camp out at my parents newly acquired (from Auction) home in Silver Sands, Duncans, Trelawny for a week and recharge.  The house was furnished with what had been left behind, beds, tables and chairs, a frig.  We didn’t worry about food - there was plenty, whatever was seasonal was in abundance,  it was a relief to snack and make picnics.  Life was simple.  That’s it - it was simple.  Choices limited - we woke up with the turquoise Caribbean Sea facing us straight on, we read, ate, gossiped, swam and slept in a tropical paradise, oblivious.


At least once during our visits we would drive into the Trelawny countryside, which includes the pristine Cockpit Mountains and villages like Bunker’s Hill, Sherwood Content, Deeside, Drommilly, and landscapes straight from Eve Fosters paintings…life in small houses, with octagonal front rooms, and verandas and flowers, broom swept yards, perched dramatically in the hillside… children were everywhere, in pairs and in gangs, playing on the streets… streets that saw little traffic, so when I showed up with a band of friends, it was intriguing, people wanted to talk to you, they were fascinating folks, and friendly and they moved very slow. 


That is where and when I saw Jamaica’s home-made country toys - the driving stick - the Truck was common.  As were Juice Box pull toys.  Also single hoops, rolled with a stick, wooden gigs, and marble games. Today, it is hard to reach that far into the countryside.  Roads are quickly disappearing. What was a road, became a lane, then a track. The Truck… that toy truck, holds fast in my memory.  You don’t see them any more…  


Fast forward, 40 years later, I meet Winston Cameron last Christmas, 2017 on James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, St. Mary.  Winston is a skilled craftsman - he makes a flying bird out of coconut shell and bamboo that will break your heart.  I tell him about the Truck I used to see in the Trelawny countryside.  “I know that Truck” Winston says - so said, so done.  Winston built one, and then we built 8.  They are the “Limited Edition #8 Country Truck”.



 DIY - Ol Time Country Push Toy Truck instructions.  Enjoy!


Jamaica Up Upcycle

DIY Country Handmade

Push Toy Truck


Helpful Tools & Materials  

.  Drill 

.  Saw

.  Hammer

.  Machette 

.  Jig Saw


 A variety of Nails, incl. Zinc Nails w. Rubber Back, Tacs, and a small amount of lace wire.

A large plastic thread spool, rubber bands, a tin can. Decorate your Truck with Paint, Stickers, Bottle Caps, Toys, Flags, Headlights, go for it!


WHEELS /   1Ft. of 1” x 6” Lumber will make 2,  5” Wheels:  / or  2  (same size) 5” upcycled wheels. A  Jig Saw is useful to cut perfect 5” circles.   Trace your wheels / circles with a compass so you have marked the center accurately. Drill a hole thru the center of both wheels with 1/8” Drill Bit.  Cut old bike tyre or use other upcycled rubber from Tennis shoes or FlipFlops can work, into a long strips to nail around the Wheels.  Once the Rubber is nailed onto the wheel, the excess rubber can be shaved off. 


AXEL - 7” of 2x2” Lumber is centered on top of 14” of 2x2” Lumber .  Pre-drill Axel where Drive Stick is nailed on.  Wheels will be attached to Axel with Zinc nails.  PreDrill.  Nail the Wheel to end of Axel, but not so tight it can’t spin easily. 


DRIVE STICK goes on top of Axel, Notched End Up.  Use a 3” Zinc Nail with Rubber to attach Drive Stick to Axel.  The Axel will move with Steering Wheel.


The KICK STAND is approx.. 10” of 2 X 2 Lumber and is nailed (4”nail) underneath the Drive Stick (where the Axel is, can use a tack on either side of the Kick Stand to Drive Stick for firmation*. The Kick Stand lets the Truck stand up, on the ready, ready to roll!


STEERING WHEEL:  Garden Hose (approx. 20”),  Use lumber to make an 8” X , squared…  using a cup joint in the middle.  Tack Garden Hose around the X to make a wheel… use long nails to tack Hose, 1&1/2” so it does not come off easily.  The Steering Wheel goes about 2” below your Handle.   Ideally, use a 5” Bolt through the Center of your X, and then the center of your Plastic Cotton Reel and then into the Driving Stick.


We did not have 5” Bolts, so used 4” Nails… this is a homemade toy – IMPROVISE  


STEERING WHEEL MECHANISM – Bore an approx. x” plastic cap with 4 holes – 2 on either side of the Cap or parallel to each other.  Hammer a 1” nail on either side of Axel. Tie one end of Nylon Fishing Cord to one of the Axel Nails, on one side, then thread the Cord through the 2 holes on one side of the  the Plastic Cap and Nail the Cap in the Middle just above where the Kick stand is nailed.  Thread the cord over the Cotton Reel and around it 5 to 6 times, then down through the other side of the Plastic Cap and then tie down to the 1” tack on the other side of the Axel. Roll your cord Flat across the Cotton Reel, not on top of each other.  


HORN -   A Sardine Can makes an excellent horn, but any can will do.  Hammer a hole in the back of a can and rig a big, 8” nail to run through the hole with a rubber band - scratching the can which does indeed sound very much like a horn!   



Winston’s swears by this Recipe for Chicken Neck and says its what to feed a brood of Pikney while making a toy Truck!


Winston’s Chicken Neck

Marinate neck overnight then par cook them oil - then fling them on the Fire.  

Thats it!




About the author

Lynda Lee Burks has lived in Jamaica most of her adult life. She supports her passion for living by the sea, by organizing tours of Jamaica, producing events – dub poets to destination weddings, and as artist and teacher.  

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