Photo of Old Jimmy and Wally Fritzlan
Wally Fritzlan poses with restored Old Jimmy.


Old Jimmy revived

Some called it the General but not Wally Fritzlan, who drove the 1942 GMC pickup truck for 30 years.

“The young guys called it the General because it was made by General Motors,” Fritzlan recalled. “I always called it Old Jimmy.”

Old Jimmy has been a part of the Mesa family since Horace Wubben was president of what was then Mesa County Junior College back in 1947.

That’s when Al Goffredi came home after a stint in the U.S. Air Force and noticed the college had a Jeep utility wagon. Goffredi wanted it badly enough to swap the ’42 GMC truck his dad ordered in 1941, just before Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor. The trade was made and Old Jimmy came to live at Mesa.

A Vietnam vet, Fritzlan started at Mesa in 1968 after finishing his time in the U.S. Navy. Back then, all staff in facilities started as janitors. To advance, you “threw down your broom and fixed something,” Fritzlan said.

Old Jimmy was broken down, living in the basement of Houston Hall. A skilled diesel mechanic, Fritzlan threw down his broom and fixed that truck.

“When I got done, it became my truck,” he said. He drove it for 30 years. Of course there weren't very many of the young guys who could drive the truck. They didn't know how to double-clutch Old Jimmy to be able to shift the unsynchronized transmission.

The U.S. Forest Service had some spare paint, so Old Jimmy and other Mesa utility vehicles were painted Forest Service green. Old Jimmy and Fritzlan continued their partnership.

Fritzlan retired in 1998 and, shortly thereafter, Old Jimmy was put out to pasture, first at the south campus on D Road and later at the Bishop Campus. There it sat until 2013, when the CMU Alumni Association began a lengthy project to restore Old Jimmy.

With the help of U.S. Bank, Fuoco Motors, Discount Tire and Shear, Inc., Old Jimmy has a new lease on life.

Fritzlan choked up a bit when he first saw Old Jimmy all shiny and clean.

“I took care of it like I was going to drive it to California. I could have, too,” he said. “It never let me down, not once – It sure needed me a lot, though.”

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