Salvatore Macias's truck
At first glance I thought, OMG what the...? As I drew closer, the details of the truck, covered bumper-to-bumper with...things, came into focus.
Decorative crystals; butterflies; owls; wind chimes; ceramic dogs, ducks, pigs; fishing buoys; plastic seagulls; stars; trophies; model fighter jets; bicycles; masks and a even a family tree, all thoughtfully and purposefully placed on the truck.
I soon found myself spiraling down the rabbit hole into Salvatore Macias’s mobile treasure truck, which celebrates his life journey via mementoes gathered along the way.
It took me about six months to actually make contact with Macias. It’s usually always parked near the corner of Nimitz and Harbor Drive.
“I park it here and when I come back, oh, so many notes left on the windshield, everybody asking me about it,” he boasted.
Macias moves the truck over the Shelter Island on weekends, where you can find him chatting with all the folks who stop for pictures and hear stories.
“These here, the birds, oh what a story,” he told me as he pointed out small seagull figurines along the front of the truck. “I was working with my shovel in the fields, and the grass was about this high,” he said, indicating waist-high grass, “and I hear something — whoosh — and I look in there and there was a bunch of eggs and a nest, and I know they were almost ready to hatch, so I took them to one of the barns near my house, I put a light in there and two days later a bunch of babies.
"Six months later, they were big, and when I would drive 13 miles from the ranch I was living on to Carson City, they followed me all the way there before they turned around and went back to the ranch. They followed me everywhere for maybe four to six months before...I don’t know where they went.”
He explained how he came into possession of the truck.
“We used to have a big house, by Euclid Avenue, and when I first lived there, I went to buy trees — you know, it was a big empty property — and I bought a little Christmas tree, about two feet tall, and planted it near three palm trees, so this tree after two or three years got as tall as a light post but it was crooked.
"So I got a rope and tied the rope to the tree to make it straight. Eight years later and the rope had grown into the tree, so I cut it. It was wintertime, and very windy, and the truck was parked on the other side of the fence — it was my neighbor's truck at the time — but one night, the wind knocked the tree down and damaged the truck.
"So, my neighbor asked me if I could fix it but it was too expensive, so I ask him how much you want for it? He says $200, so I bought it, moved it to my place, fixed the damage, and made a new camper.”
The family tree
Macias was living in a home at the time, but due to family (not financial) circumstances, he and his wife moved in to the camper truck temporarily.
The first items placed on his new truck were bright plastic stars that came from his house and now line the interior roof of the camper.
“I had these guns on my wall, and the eagles…and from there it went on.”
The family tree attached to the back of the truck has names of living family members and those who have died.
What’s his favorite item?
“The horses,” he said as he walked me to the other side of the truck. “I’ve been around horses my whole life. I work 30 years on a ranch. The stallions — oh, I love them,” he smiled as he looked at the 3D poster mounted on the interior door.
“A lot of kids they see the truck and come to me and say, 'Can I buy ice cream?'” he laughed.