Steve Nervig writes: Clifford was taken from us too soon in life, but we cherished the few hours that we spent with him. My wife and I had him over for dinner one evening in 2005. It was one of his all-too-rare visits to the NorthWest, on an equally rare beautiful May evening. I went to pick him up at the Federal Way Flying-J and I remember how his eyes sparkled when he saw me drive up in my coupe, freshly waxed and with the windows rolled down. Hazen Arnold joined us for refreshments, dinner and conversation.
The next day, Clifford called to thank us and relayed to Peg that he was at the North Bend truck stop and had to wait the day for his next load. So Peg jumped in the car (I was at work) and went and picked Clifford up and they spent the day touring the Seattle waterfront and taking a ferry boat ride across the Puget Sound. They visited Pike Street Market and had a great time.
Here are a few pictures that celebrate a very small part of the life of Clifford, with his faithful companion, Schatzi.
Included are several pictures of the MBCA "rolling billboard" that Cliff so proudly took on the road and used in several MBCA events encouraging safety on the highway. Also, there is a letter he wrote to MBCA.
Jeff Klepac had the opportunity to meet Cliff at the defensive driving / autocross held by the Kansas City Chapter on August 18, 2007. Cliff was talking to the group and giving advice about getting around (passing) an 18 wheeler quickly. Jeff sent several of the photos below.
(Click the 'Open Image in New Window' icon at the top right to see the full-size photo.)
Our Texas Star Man Has Gone Truckiní January 16th, 1954 - March 14th, 2008
Cliff (L) and fellow MB enthusiast John Freer admiring a 1972 280SEL 4.5 at an auction in Palm Springs, CA, on Feb 26, 2006. Photo by Frank Peele.
Chuck Landenberger passed on the letter below, which Cliff wrote to him and to Josie Lesler, MBCA Membership Chair, recounting some of his experiences driving the MBCA "Rolling Billboard". The trailer later made an encore appearance at the MBCA Board Meeting in Reston, VA. Cliff was truly one of a kind...
Dear Josie and Chuck,
So it's been 6 months already for MBCA's membership advertising campaign on the sides of my trailer. Has it really been that long? Sure doesn't seem like it. Seems like it was just a very few days ago that I was in my truck watching the installer lay sheet after sheet of the vinyl graphics, slowly covering up the plain white metal sides of my Great Dane Dry Van, creating what I am sure is the only car club truck ad in the entire country (perhaps the world). Can it be that almost 6 months ago I left Richmond, VA on my way to StarTech '07 in Reston, VA for the trailer's debut? Was it really that long ago that on my way there a silver W210 E Class passed me on I-95 NB before I even got to Reston and its driver stuck their hand out the window and just waved? I can't believe its been that long ago that William Hopper co-coordinated just about the easiest access and parking at a place that really wasn't designed for large highway trucks and that the board of MBCA got the opportunity to see what their willingness to try something new had created. I will never forget the looks on some of of the board's faces when you walked outside and saw the graphics covering the entire side of my trailer either. I understand that some of you were unsure, maybe even opposed to such a wild idea, but when I saw the eyes get big and the huge, Texas sized smiles start to break out on every face I could see, I knew you and I had done a clever thing.
Itís been an incredible experience pulling this ad campaign. I can't count the times truckers have asked me how I got a contract hauling for MBCA or if I had parts for Mercedes-Benz in there, or maybe even cars, and if I'd leave theirs at a certain address for them. I remember the first trip hauling freight out of Norfolk, VA on the Monday after StarTech, talking to a young company driver who'd bought his wife a C230 Kompressor coupe that she couldn't drive because of her hospital stay for cancer treatments. I remember showing him photos of my involvement in the club events in The Star, giving him the magazine and a membership form. I remember telling him to take The Star, give it to his wife, and tell her she had to get well so she could join the club and come have some fun with us.
I remember the time a trucker asked me how I got to haul a BMW trailer. He was driving a Peterbilt, as do I. I explained to him gently that calling anything Mercedes-Benz a BMW would be like me calling his "Pete" a Kenworth. He got the message clearly. I remember another trucker recently who approached me and wanted to know if there was any way he could sign up to pull a trailer like mine. He said he's always liked Mercedes-Benzes and thought it would be great to pull a trailer like mine.
I remember how well things worked out for having the truck at Gemutlichkeit, the narrow side street with the flowers and decorative trees that accessed the parking lot where I was to park the truck. I remember missing every leaf and petal on every one! I remember the "helpful" Aurora policeman who was so kind and generous as to park his car on the berm and wait for someone to make a ticketable offense. Fooled him! Nobody did. I remember the excitement all of us felt when the truck had arrived and was parked, ready for its first involvement with Frank and Mary Alice Cozza's Defensive Driving Course. I was so pleased at the response from club members who viewed the truck, and I was particularly pleased with the response of the folks who took time out to view the truck up close, to climb up inside and see what the roadway looks like from a truck operator's perspective.
I remember the little "tricks of the trade" it took to make it to KC Section's Defensive Driving and Autocross event in KC, KS on time this summer after a gracious invitation from Dudley and Joyce Smith and others. It just wouldn't have done to miss that event. I just received my complimentary copy of their newsletter today and am delighted to see that it's already being planned for next year as well. I can't wait! I'll be there! I remember responses from the folks in KC similar to the responses of the folks at Gemutlichkeit. Dudley gracious allowed me to drive his C55 AMG sedan that day, and I am still grateful for his generosity.
I remember seeing a gold W126/420SEL sitting on the side of I-10 with its hood up in southern California. Folks, it just wouldn't do for the Mercedes-Benz Club of America truck to disappear over the horizon while the owner of the Mercedes-Benz sat on the side of the highway. It was his good fortune that only one of the two fan belts had broken, although that's what caused the good one to come off. I had the tools at hand and managed to figure out how to adjust the power steering pump to get the remaining belt back on and get them on down the highway. But only after giving them a membership form and a "spiel" about the club. I remember seeing an ML320 parked on the shoulder as well, but the lady seemed to have the change of diapers in the back seat well under control, so that time, I didn't stop. There was the lady walking her large dogs in Tucumcari, NM, while her new white ML sat in the shade of a nearby tree. The dogs were intriguing and the ML spotless. I just had to hand her an MBCA membership form.
I also remember planning a 3 day/2 night day layover at the Flying J on I-10W in Phoenix. I called Chuck Landenberger to see if he wanted to grab a bite and jaw awhile while I was in town. Ol' Chuck got on the phone and mid-morning Saturday, Chuck and 3 other local section members were parked just down from my truck, ready to meet, greet, take some photos and share some conversation over breakfast.
I remember a silver W140/S320 passing me three or four times out in Nebraska I think it was, honking and waving like crazy each time they passed. Even a 140 doesn't carry as much fuel as my truck does.
There's been some wonderful, fun things happen since StarTech and the trailer wrap but without a doubt, the thing I will remember forever is the affection and support and thanks I've received from members of this car club. The advertising slogan for MBUSA is even more appropriate for this club and its members:
"Unlike Any Other"
Clifford T Floeck III Abilene TX
1972 300SEL 4.5 "Christiane" 105,000 mi 1976 450SEL "Helmut" 174,000 mi 1992 500SEL "Hans" 95,000 mi