This 1957 International Lambert Tow Truck started life as a very classy recovery truck for Helms Bakery in Culver City Ca., “The First Bread on the Moon”. Helms Bakery must have had several tow trucks, Helms had a whole fleet of bread trucks and support vehicles. The industrial quality of the IH cab and chassis Model A132 was chosen to be the foundation this rare Lambert Tow Truck was built upon. This 1957 International A130 left the assembly line in Chicago, Illinois, April 19, 1957, then shipped either rail or truck via Route 66 to Los Angeles. At that time, Lambert Co LTD was located at 1202 E Olympic Blvd in East LA and was the West Coast Ernest Holmes Distributor, also Lambert built their own bodies and complete turn-key tow trucks. This one is equipped with its original Holmes 400 (dated June 1957), the rare Plus Body with Tool Compartment with CA dimensions of 60″ (dated July 8, 1957). This Wrecker is also equipped with a rare scobie plate or flat plate sling, used mostly on the West Coast. So in July of 57, a true West Coast Step-side Tow Truck was born sporting that familure shinny Helms Bakery Yellow over Black, Dark Walnut Brown or Coffee paint scheme I remember as a kid in Bellflower back in the late 50′s. Helms Bakery or Lambert are no longer in bussines. Here the Essex Towing truck has been sitting waiting patiently for me to come along so I can pamper her. Parked only fifty feet off the original old Route 66 (pre-1931 alignment, dirt road seen in the background), where she has sat for 10 years or more and has made the Mojave Desert home since the closing of Helms Bakery in 1969. After Helms, the little tow truck helped relocate or salvage the thousands cars off of this stretch of Route 66 to Barstow or Needles as Interstate 40 was to bypass this stretch of road by 1972. Here she sits and listens to the BNSF trains as they sound the warning at the Sunflower Springs grade crossing. Standing about a hundred yards to the west on Route 66, across from the fully functional and staffed Cal-Trans Yard, sits a cute Radiator Well the Automobile Club of Southern California erected in 1940. This little drinking fountain in the desert provided a much needed FREE drink of clean cool water for the CARS radiators. Back in the days most stops in the Hot Mojave desert charged 10 cents a gallon for dirty radiator water, John Steinbeck wrote a book about those days, “The Grapes of Wrath”. The free range cattle for cow tipping provided by the Blair Ranch, you will notice the cattle guards and cow warning signs as you pass through town. Say hello to JR and John at their little tire shop that is still in business when you stop by Essex. Essex Ca was bypassed by interstate 40 in 1972, leaving Essex a Ghost Town almost. But thanks to Johnny Carson, in 1977, Essex got TV Reception for the first time ever. The whole town was then invited to Burbank to the Johnny CARSon Show. John and the Little Tow Truck had to stay home to watch out for the travelers.
Just a note, the litte tow truck has since been relocated and Amboy Larry (the caretaker of Amboy a few years prior) is in Essex, he’s helping fix the town up, hanging out at Tommy’s Place or helping at the tire shop.
Essex Ca is known as the Heart of the Mojave Desert according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
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