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Antrim man fixes old truck in friend’s memory

  • Harley Miller is in the process of fixing up a truck in memory of his late friend Cole Wohle. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Harley Miller is in the process of fixing up a truck in memory of his late friend Cole Wohle. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Harley Miller is in the process of fixing up a truck in memory of his late friend Cole Wohle. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 10, 2017

A stripped down 1990 Dodge w250 Cummins has been sitting in a garage near Harley Miller’s house in Antrim for several months. 

Harley, who is a diesel mechanic, has been spending his spare time and money fixing the truck in memory of his late friend Cole Wohle who passed away last summer of apparent heart failure while at a rodeo in Vermont. He was 18.

Harley was in the chutes at the rodeo with Cole when he died.

“The rodeo was one of his favorite things to do, so he died happy,” Harley said on Saturday. “He had a smile on his face.”

He said it has been a hard year since his passing, but that thought, of Cole dying doing what he loved most, helps a lot.

“They were wicked close,” Harley’s sister Tosha Desmarais said about their relationship. “I think it was hard for him because [Harley] was right there when it happened. He was one of the last people to say goodbye to [Cole].”

She said Harley is not a big talker, and he hasn’t opened up to that many people about Cole’s death since it happened, although sometimes he will talk to her about it.

“It’s been rough for him,” she said. 

Harley said he met Cole the day that the Wohles moved to Francestown. He said he was at a friend’s house, and they all went down to meet the new neighbors.

“And then ever since, we would go to each other’s houses,” Harley said of his and Cole’s friendship.

They would hang out, hunt, and fish together. Harley said Cole would talk about a truck he drove around as a kid on their piece of property in Nevada. He said Cole wanted to ship the truck east and fix it up one day.

Cole’s mom, Christina, said the family bought the truck from its original owner in 1999 when they were living in an isolated valley of farms and ranches in Nevada. Cole was just a year old at the time.

“[Cole] grew up in that truck,” Christina said.

She said Cole started driving the automatic semi-truck to pick up hay in the family’s fields when he was 5 years old. Cole would drive himself and his younger brother, Jarrett, 22 miles along a dirt road to the bus stop in that truck, to his grandmother’s house who lived about five miles down the road, and to the neighbors’ house who lived a mile or two away.

The family started affectionately referring to the truck as “The Blue Dodge.”

When the family moved to New Hampshire six years ago, Christina said the family didn’t have the ability to move the Blue Dodge, so they parked it at a friend’s farm where it sat idle for a number of years. On Cole’s 16th birthday, he wanted to ship it to New Hampshire so he could restore it, but Christina said the request wasn’t feasible at the time.

Cole visited Nevada last May and he made a special trip to visit the neighbors and to see the truck.

“In his SnapChat, [Cole] posted a picture of his truck for all of his buddies to see,” Christina said of that trip.

She said after Cole died, some of his friends wanted to pick up his dream of restoring the Blue Dodge. 

“So I saved the money over many months and was able to ship out the truck a couple months ago,” Christina said.

Harley said the truck came straight to his house, and he started working on it shortly after it arrived.

“It’s all going to be restored to its original condition,” Harley said, adding that he and Cole had originally planned to redo it together, so he knows what his friend wanted to be done to it. 

Already he has sandblasted the paint from the cab and stripped the rest down to its frame. He said it still needs some motor work, the interior of the cab needs to be redone, and the entire truck needs to be repainted before it's completed. 

Once the truck is done, it will be given to Jarrett.

“Cole bought a truck that was only like a year old, it was his first brand new vehicle, and Jarrett had the option of getting that one, or his parents would buy him whatever he wanted, or the option of this one, and he chose this one,” Harley said.

Christina said she asked Jarrett what he wanted to drive, and the answer was the Blue Dodge.

“I think some of Jarrett’s best memories are riding around in that truck,” Christina said.

Jarrett turns 16 in October, and Harley suspects he will have the entire truck completed by then.

Harley said he is trying to raise some money to restore the Blue Dodge. He set up a GoFundMe page about a month ago to help with restoration efforts. So far, the page has raised about $430 from its $7,000 goal.

Regardless of the money though, Harley said he’ll get the Blue Dodge all fixed up.

“This means a lot to me, so I’ll do it one way or another,” Harley said.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com. Follow her on Twitter @akesslerMLT.