Michael Roberto and a Hess Toy Truck -- a tanker.

Michael Roberto and a Hess Toy Truck -- a tanker. 

What does a boy want for Christmas? A toy truck, maybe? Michael Roberto, age 42, remembers when he was just 5, his dad gave him a Hess Toy Truck, a tanker. Shortly afterwards, his dad came down with cancer and passed away.

Now Roberto has one just like it, along with scores of others. He’s got his collection on tables and two walls of his and his wife’s bedroom, CBS Evening News reported in a feature last Saturday night. “Two walls are Hess, and she has the other two,” he said.

His collection covers tables and two walls of his and his wife's bedroom.

His collection covers tables and two walls of his and his wife's bedroom. 

“I remember my dad taking me to a Hess station and getting me that truck,” he told the interviewer. “When I think of Hess, it brings back all kinds of positive memories of my father.” 

That some people collect Hess trucks, not just toy trucks, was news to me. Roberto hosts annual meetings of Hess collectors like himself. It’s a hobby I never realized existed.

Through a chain of filling stations, Hess Corp. is a well-known oil company back East, including the Bronx, New York, where Roberto grew up. Since 1964 the gas stations have sold Hess Toy Trucks in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so this year is the 50th anniversary of the tradition.

Through the years the trucks have sometimes been fire engines, and tractor-trailers have been accompanied by boats, airplanes and helicopters, a space shuttle, motorcycles, motor homes and race cars. Most were made of sheet metal and painted green and white, the corporate colors.

Hess produced a video which shows them in quick succession

But Hess is closing its filling stations in a few months and will concentrate on oil production. So the 2014 truck will be the last that can be bought in person. Henceforth, Hess will sell them on-line.

About a dozen years ago I had a Hess tanker. I can’t remember where I got it, but I’m from the Midwest and had never heard of Hess. So I didn’t think much of it and stored it in the garage.

One day my friend Elmer looked it and commented, “Hess – that’s a big name back on the East Coast. That’s a neat truck. I see you’re not doing anything with it. Could I have it?” Of course!

Sadly, Elmer passed away from cancer in 2005. His widow asked if I wanted the Hess truck back, but I said no, and I think it went into an estate sale. Now when I think of Hess Toy Trucks, I’ll think of my good buddy Elmer.

Author

Tom Berg
Tom Berg

Tom Berg

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

View Bio
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