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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Trucks, Bikes and RVs, Oh My!

Tilly Woodward sparkles with her car. Photograph by Joanna Silverman.

Not everyone is aware that Grinnell College has its fair share of sweet rides, but if one knows where to look, campus is home to some serious vehicular pride.

The Sparkle Truck belongs to Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach for the Faulconer Gallery. Beneath the trophy in front of its grille and all those layers of glitter and Elmer’s glue lives a 1989 Ford Ranger that was originally red.

Over the years, hundreds of people of all ages have contributed to decorating the Sparkle Truck—young children, Grinnell College students taking a study break and more. It is a popular station in Art in the Park, a kids art program that Woodward organizes. It has seen numerous themes including stripes, hearts, words and letters—and currently circles and polka dots.

Tilly Woodward sparkles with her car. Photograph by Joanna Silverman.
Tilly Woodward sparkles with her car. Photograph by Joanna Silverman.

Woodward first got this particular truck not long before she moved to Grinnell, but it is actually her second Sparkle Truck. The first Sparkle Truck was just a truck until she was inspired to use it for outreach with the Pella Community Art Center, where she used to work.

Using tape patterns and spray paint, the Old Sparkle Truck wore a coat of geometric designs. In other years, it was painted like a Jackson Pollack painting.

Much like its predecessor, the new truck functions like a child-magnet or ice cream truck, but instead of selling high-sugar-content dairy products, it distributes creativity, joy and community.

“When I’m at the grocery store, kids will come up and they’ll put their hand on the truck and they’ll say, ‘That’s my truck.’ And they have a sense of ownership with it, which is kind of lovely,” Woodward said.

The glitter idea came from her daughter wanting to help out her younger brother’s social life. Woodward quotes her as saying, “‘Mom, next year, next summer, you should cover it in glitter. It’ll help Walker out. Girls will think he’s sensitive.’”

And so for a decade, the first Sparkle Truck glittered under Tilly’s care. Too soon came its final demise.

“My son was driving it at the time, and he had an accident with the truck right in front of my house. And that was the end of that Sparkle Truck. It was a spectacular accident—no one was hurt, but there was lot of glitter everywhere,” Woodward said.

Fortunately, the second Sparkle Truck is not only still alive and kicking at Grinnell, it is Woodward’s most reliable vehicle.

“When other vehicles have let me down, the Sparkle Truck has carried forward,” she said. “… It will go until it goes. When the Sparkle Truck is gone, surely there needs to be another.”

Another truck glittering event will likely occur in the spring.

In another part of campus, Dylan Bondy ’16 owns a 1982 Chevy Heritage RV. It’s a 23-footer named Punxsutawney Phil.

He got the RV over the summer in rural Punxsutawney, Pa., which is actually the home of the Groundhog Day celebration. He is excited that it has a kitchen and bathroom.

“It was so weird the first time I had a friend pee in my car,” he said.

Bondy went camping in his RV over the summer with some friends at Hinckley Reservoir in upstate New York.

“I had never been camping before buying this vehicle. I suppose I needed to have a chunk of civilization with me in order to get myself out into nature … It was awesome RV camping right next to the water and watching the sunrise. Got some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken in my life. Made me fall in love with camping,” Bondy wrote in an email to The S&B.

Bondy has been using his RV everyday until the engine recently died.

“Punxsutawney Phil … gave me countless priceless experiences. I will remember him for the rest of my life. May he rest in peace!” Bondy wrote.

Clark Fancher ’15 owns a “naked” Suzuki SV650—a motorcycle, which as Fancher put it in an email to The S&B, “… has the fairings removed to look cool and intimidating in street races.”

Yes, Fancher will occasionally participate in street races if an opponent challenges him. And he attests that his motorcycle is faster than a certain Camaro belonging to another student on campus.

“… I have pink slips from Iowa Speedway to prove it,” he wrote.

Fancher has also decorated his car with a picture of Saint Columbanus.

“The patron saint Columbanus is the watcher of motorcyclists, and I believe he has kept me safe over the last two years of riding,” he wrote

He originally got his bike while he was an intern in need of transportation in New York City. He went online, found the bike, got on a Greyhound to Rochester, NY, and “purchased it on the spot” five hours later.

“The first night I rode it to Ithaca and nearly froze to death. The following day I rode back to the city in the rain and almost drowned,” he wrote.

Before that, the only time Fancher had ever ridden a motorcycle was in a parking lot when he was being tested to get his license.

But he survived and eventually made it back to Grinnell at the end of summer, although along the way, “The battery died and a bunch of hog-riding hillbillies helped me bump-start it.”

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