A Visit to Dick Kemp’s Truck Museum By Don Arnauckas

Back in the summer of 1977 when I had paid vacations, it was decided that we should take a trip to New Hampshire with our young children.  Our first attraction would be Santa’s Village, followed by a day at Story Land.  Both were great places for our children.  From there we headed toward Mount Washington and the Auto Road where it was “cold” on that August day.  Of course there were numerous stops at those stores (shops) that sold items that no one really needed.

All the while being a good husband and father, Dad thought that if we were in New Hampshire, we should visit Dick Kemp’s Truck Museum.  Probably not listed in the AAA Travel Guide, but no ‘truck nut’ would pass up this opportunity – especially if you’re ‘this close’!

Older Nutmeg members will remember Dick Kemp’s collection and the following photos could stimulate your memory.  Younger members will have to settle with these photos.

Dick drove Mack trucks and repaired them.  Back in 1964 Dick found a Bulldog Mack that was going to a junk dealer.  The contractor thought it was worth about $250, but when Dick promised to save his old truck from the junk heap, he let Dick have it for $50.

Being a construction worker, Dick had time in the winter months to restore old trucks.  After fixing up that Bulldog Mack, someone offered Kemp $2500 for it, but he would not sell it because it was the first Mack he ever owned personally.

Originally Kemp collected only Mack’s, but later he added Sterling’s, Whites, Reo’s, Walters, Brockway’s, Autocar’s, and even Linn Half-Tracks to his collection.  Dick was filling his Hillsborough, New Hampshire yard and visitors from every state in the Union, and even Canada, Mexico, and Europe visited this “free” outdoor museum.

The most expensive truck he ever purchased was a 1945 LM Offset-Cab Mack for $500.  Dick painted his trucks which helped to preserve them.  As you look at this photos, you will note that he numbered his trucks.  He owned 70 plus trucks and this was necessary.

Dick Kemp believed that he may have started another unique American hobby.  Back in 1964 when he started out, he said, “nobody was collecting trucks.” We now know, thanks to the ATHS, this “sickness” called collecting trucks has spread over the past fifty years.

Kemp seldom drove his trucks and was not into truck shows that much.  In 1975 Dick said that with more people following his footsteps, the price of old trucks kept going up.  “In the old days I used to pay $100 or $150 for a truck.  Nowadays, the price is close to $500.”

Dick Kemp passed away in 2007 at the age of 76.  A large auction was held in June of 2009 and most of his collection was sold to new owners.  Many have been restored and you might have seen them at an antique truck show recently.  The truck yard and garage that had been in the Kemp family since the late 1800’s was offered to the Town of Hillsborough.  That site is now the Richard Kemp Memorial Park and two of Dick’s antiques are on display.  Proceeds from the auction were used to create a scholarship fund for local high school students furthering their education in the trades.

The family survived our visit to Dick Kemp’s Truck Museum and it was a beautiful sunny day for taking pictures of trucks.  I am not sure how many rolls of film I shot that day.

A side note about our trip was our daughter asking why there were no “lines” on the highway when Mom or Dad mentioned we were “crossing a state line.”  That was a good question!

 

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