PM's Truck Of The Month A Strange Trip:O'Grady Plumbing, San Francisco
But it has a rich history. Owner Paul O'Grady had driven the 1957 International Harvester truck, originally a milk truck, from the south Bronx in New York to San Francisco when he decided to strike out on his own.
“I had always wanted to pick up and spread my wings like my father had done 50 years earlier,” O'Grady says. “Then one grim day in 1993 I got the itch. I was sitting idle like that 1957 International Harvester, and decided to cram as many tools and personal belongings I could into the rig and head west to San Francisco.”
His father, Martin O'Grady, a native of County Roscommon in Ireland, started the original company in New York when he purchased the old milk truck in 1969 from a down-on-his-luck hippie. In the early 1990s, the milk truck was retired to a parking space with an “uncertain future” until Paul caught the plumbing bug.
“Shortly after arriving in San Francisco, an old hippie approached me and asked if I knew where the truck had originated,” Paul explains. “Of course I did. My dad had bought the truck in 1969 from some hippie kid for $350. He laughed and said that it sure had been a long, strange trip. He went on to tell me that he was that hippie kid, and had used the money to bail his buddies out of jail for a demonstration that had gotten out of hand. They returned to San Francisco where their journey had begun, less one 1957 International Harvester.”
The West Coast version of O'Grady Plumbing boasts 10 trucks serving the San Francisco Bay area. Paul is the only one of the O'Grady kids to follow his father's footsteps into the plumbing field. The others went into civil service as firemen, police officers and city building inspectors.
Although the International Harvester truck isn't used for regular service anymore, Paul says it's definitely a source of advertising for his company with its very distinctive graphics.