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In ugly truck contest, looks are everything

August 23, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

HANCOCK - Mayor Daniel A. Murphy poked, prodded and peered at the three pickups entered in the "Ugly Truck Contest" on Saturday afternoon.

In the end, though, it really was no contest.

Marco Ward's 1977 Ford was head and shoulders above - or perhaps below - the competition.

"I think it was hands down," said Murphy, who asked to judge the contest. "Even the owner of the second-place vehicle, I think, acquiesced."

The "Ugly Truck Contest" was part of a block party sponsored by the Hancock Baptist Church, which was founded nearly two years ago by Baptists from Hagerstown and Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Jeff Clark, the Southern Baptists' state evangelism director in West Virginia, said 100 different denominations are throwing block parties in their communities as part of "Celebrate Jesus 2000."

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As a wrinkle for the Hancock church, Clark said he suggested an ugly truck contest.

"I came up here and looked around, and this looks like a truck kind of community," said Clark, of Charleston, W.Va.

Larry Weaver, chairman of deacons at the church, said he wished more residents had entered the contest.

"I was a little disappointed we only had three, because I've seen a lot of ugly trucks around here, a lot," he said.

As it was, three dozen trucks may have had trouble topping Ward's pickup, a 1977 relic with 180,000 miles on it.

It has a brown hood, a white cab, a green body and what Murphy called "strategic rust parts."

"When you have four different colors on five different panels - that's ugly," he said.

All three owners who entered their vehicles in the contest received trophies. Despite his truck's first-place finish, Ward protested.

"It's not ugly. It's unique," he said.

Ward, 46, of Hancock, said the truck has served him well traveling back and forth to his job at Rayloc and on trips with the Boy Scouts.

"It's been a good old truck," he said.

The race for second place was much closer.

Murphy decided Jay Hoffman's 1985 Chevrolet Blazer was just a little bit uglier than Ryan Hendershot's 1989 Dodge Ram. Both Hoffman and Hendershot are Hancock residents.

"He's got a rusty interior," Murphy said of Hoffman's Blazer. "He's got two weeks' worth of junk, maybe living things, I don't know."

But Murphy said the Dodge also had its selling points.

"If you look at that truck at a distance, it doesn't look that bad. But if you get up close - that's an ugly truck," he said, pointing to a missing wheel cover and a "nasty scratch that just hurts to look at."

In judging the contestants, Murphy said he went beyond the exterior and the obvious unsightliness, and examined the inside as well.

"I'm a great believer that beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes deep to the bone," he said.

In addition to the truck contest, the block party featured a collection of antique cars, free food and games.

The Rev. Larry Westcott, pastor of Hancock Baptist Church, took his licks in the dunking booth.

A retired military man who lived in Morgan County, W.Va., for eight years, Westcott said he joined the ministry after feeling a calling from God.

He said he hoped the block party would acquaint the community with his still-new congregation.

"It's also to point people to Christ," he said. "We've got so many negatives in society. This is to try to draw attention to Christ. Christ is the answer."

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