THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL/ANDREW DICKERMAN
SOUTH KINGSTOWN — It was a long time coming, but with a 75th anniversary to celebrate the Pucino brothers decided the time had come to honor their late father and restore the 1937 Ford tow truck that had started the family business.
In 1939, Mike Pucino Sr. opened an auto repair shop on Post Road in East Greenwich. He made the move with help from his father, Luigi, partly because the family chicken farm had been wiped out by the Hurricane of 1938, according to Mike’s oldest son, Lou Pucino.
“They needed to get into something right away,” said his brother Mike Pucino Jr.
At the time, it was the main road along the East Coast and not even paved. “Dirt then concrete then tar,” said Lou, noting there were only a handful of gas stations in the area in the early 1950s. “(The area) was not very populated,” said Mike Jr.
When Mike Sr. went off to serve in World War II, his father kept the business going while working to rebuild the farm. When Mike returned in 1944, he bought the 1 1/2-ton truck a year later and fabricated the towing apparatus that has lasted to this day. Using a torch, he welded together a well-thought-out construct of railroad ties, steel piping, sheet metal and slabs of thick steel to create a rig that never failed in some 40 years of service.
“It’s so real, so strong,” said Mike Jr., adding, “Dad used to say, ‘All these years, she never said no, always came back with the job done.’ ”