Celeste and Norman Stickney purchased their 2009 Ford Ranger pickup as part of the “Cash for Clunkers” deal, an initiative that attempted to bail out U.S. automakers.
They got $4,500 for “Old Rusty,” a pickup that was well past its prime, and Norman got another $1,000 incentive for earning his associate’s degree that same year. “We had so many discounts, we got a really good deal on that truck,” Celeste told The Times.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, a powerful nor’easter ended the pickup’s good run of dump trips, lumberyard ventures, a brief detour to California with their son, and — get this — carrying fallen trees for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Martha’s Vineyard’s “wood pantry.”
“We’d pick up wood and give it to people who need it through the church,” she said.
Celeste chuckled at the irony.
On Saturday morning as he went out to retrieve the couple’s other car from a neighbor’s driveway, thinking one of their trees might fall on the car, Norman discovered the incredible sight of his truck buried under a massive trunk. “He said, ‘Too late, a tree already fell on the truck,’” Celeste said.
The massive tree — the couple isn’t sure what kind it was — was uprooted by the nor’easter’s hurricane-force gusts. A company that helped remove the tree, which was wedged into the pickup’s cab, counted 81 rings on it, an indication that it was nearly a century old.
“We were home, but we didn’t hear anything because the wind was howling so much,” Celeste said.
A neighbor told them he heard a loud noise at 4:30 am, went out to investigate, but never spotted the tree-on-truck damage until morning.
The truck had just 49,000 miles on it, an average of less than 6,000 per year.
Now the Stickneys are trying to salvage whatever personal belongings they can out of the crumpled truck. They’re waiting to hear from the insurance company how much they’ll get for it, but are realistic that it won’t be anything like the sweetheart deal they got nine years ago.
“The insurance company wanted to know which part of the truck was damaged,” Celeste said. “I told them the side mirrors were OK.”
They’re trying to take what happened to their truck in stride. “I told the guys when they were using the chainsaws not to scratch it,” Celeste said with a laugh.