Vehicles can be 'family'
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Kevin and Tanya Kuehner just got married and are now ready to drive to the reception in Kevin's restored 1949 Chevy pick-up. Kevin's father, Burdell Kuehner, Jr. made the wooden "Just Hitched" sign.
Kevin Kuehner knows that a vehicle can mean more than simply steel and rubber.
Kuehner, of Kunkletown, is a devotee of all things with wheels, especially his 1949 Chevrolet pick-up. The truck is a family hand-me-down.
His great-grandfather, Samuel Kuehner of Kunkletown, bought it brand new and drove it until he couldn't anymore. Then the truck went to Kermit Kuehner, Samuel's oldest son, who drove it until 1992. Kevin "bought" it from his great-uncle (now deceased) in 1992, "in pretty good condition. It only had 36,000 original miles on it," he says.
It sat in his dad's (Burdell Kuehner, Jr.) garage up until about three months ago. When he and fiance Tanya Frank, the daughter of Naomi Frank of Coaldale and the late Ronald Frank, decided to get married, he knew he wanted the truck as part of the wedding.
"I couldn't have my great uncle Kermit at the wedding, but I could have his truck," says Kevin.
Kevin and Kermit were very close. During Kevin's growing up years, they spent time together berry-picking, cutting fire wood and keeping the family farm's wood rows clean.
Kevin laughs when he says, "Everyone knew Kermit. He never drove more than 30 mph. I have a lot of good memories of him."
It became a labor of love for Kevin to restore his beloved vehicle in time for his June 12 wedding. Word got out and he received a lot of helping hands in the frame-up restoration. James Meckes did all the body work and painted it a beautiful forest green. Kerry Smith did the sand blasting.
Some of Kevin's students from his Carbon County Technical Institute classes came by to help. Kevin is the machine shop instructor at CCTI.
The wood floor boards of the truck's bed came from trees on the family's property, milled by Kevin's brother, Kenny Kuehner.
Three weeks before the wedding, there was some question of whether or not the truck would be ready. The frame was in one place, the cab and bed at the paint booth, the engine someplace else and the doors in a body shop in Coaldale.
While Kevin was working hard on restoring the wedding truck, Tanya and her future mother-in-law, Cindy Kuehner, were putting together the rest of the wedding, with Cindy making all the gowns for the bride, bridesmaids and flower girls.
All the bouquets, invitations, church bulletins and reception centerpieces were handmade as well.
For a surprise for Kevin, Tanya had their friend, Woody George, put together a plastic model Chevy truck replica of Kevin's truck, which was the topper of the groom's cake at the reception.
The night of Kevin's bachelor party found him and his buddies "celebrating" in his dad's garage putting the truck pieces all together.
They got the job done and the wedding day went off without a hitch. After the ceremony at St. Matthew's UCC in Kunkletown where Tanya, her son, Taden Dunbar, and Kevin are members, as the wedding guests and Tanya left the church, they saw for the first time the gleaming green Chevy pick-up waiting to take the new Mr. and Mrs. for its first ride.
Tin cans trailed behind it and as a gift from the groom's father, a new wooden headboard on the bed of the truck proclaimed "Just Hitched."
Also waiting for the wedding party were four shined-up antique John Deere tractors. Two are owned by Burdell and the other two are owned by Howard Hummel, both men and Kevin are members of the Pocono Old Tyme Farm Equipment Association.
One John Deere pulled a large hay wagon with the bridal party aboard. The other three acted as escorts for the whole wedding procession to the Kuhenbeaker farm for wedding pictures.
"I grew up with tractors. I've always worked on them. It just seemed right that they'd be a part of my wedding," says Kevin.
Tanya and Kevin are graduates of Carbon County Area Vocational Technical School.
Tanya is the payroll administrator for Kovatch. It was while Kevin also worked at Kovatch that they began dating. Kevin is now the machine shop instructor at CCTI.
"I not only married a good guy, but I gained a whole wonderful family," says Tanya.
And as for the '49 pick-up ... well, that is part of the family, too.