The Model T Truck became “Roadster”

Donald and Delbert Wilson, January 1934, Dexter, Iowa. “Grandmother’s house” is in the background.

This photo of the two oldest Wilson brothers was featured in the Rewind section of the December/January issue of Our Iowa magazine.

That Model T Ford pickup became the Wilson family “roadster” later that year, 1934. Wouldn’t the Wilson family be surprised that this photo became part of the cover of Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression!

Clabe, Dale, Danny, and Junior with the “roadster.” Their pet squirrel Rusty is on the fender. Dexter, 1934

The original snapshot of the truck was so uneven that I had Alexander’s Photo restore it. It’s the only picture of the entire truck, even more precious because Donald and Delbert had just been to Des Moines to enlist in the Navy. They’d finally have enough to eat as well as the ability to send a little money home to help support their folks, Clabe and Leora Wilson, and five siblings during those Depression years.

Clabe Wilson, who still had no job, sold the Model T truck/roadster toward the end of 1934, so they’d have that money to live on.

When the Wilsons left Dexter five years later, they still had no vehicle. Living in a small town, they walked nearly everywhere. When Clabe found a job out of town, such as at the brick and tile works in Redfield, he paid the driver for a ride.

The roadster ended up on the cover.

Some of the Wilson stories from those “Scarcity Years of the Great Depression” came from letters and photos that began to flow between the “Navy boys” and the family at home, including fun letters from the younger kids.


    • Thanks, Dennis! I would have loved to watch it happen. When the publisher of “Our Iowa” magazine called for more details about the truck, he said they wanted to use it in a winter issue because of the snow, which certainly showed up better after I had the old photo enhanced.

  1. The Wilson clan worked so hard to survive during the Great Depression! They appeared to sacrifice everything but their dignity before they moved on as many families did. You can’t eat a Model T and Clabe and Leora knew it.

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