AC Trucking — that started as a milk hauling concern after World War II — has grown up with Manteca.
Al and Carol Nunes – married almost 50 years – have taken their family’s milk hauling business to new heights since 1971 when it was first located at Lathrop Road and Highway 99. Today it has 30 tractors and some 200 trailers.
Al was driving truck as did his dad Al and his grandfather Al before him. He had attended and graduated from Ripon High School and Carol from Manteca High. Both were involved in cruising Yosemite Avenue after school between Ed’s Patio Drive-In (where Johnny’s Restaurant is today) at Yosemite and Fremont Street on the east and Foster Freeze on the west at Walnut Avenue.
It was at the Foster Freeze where they met while other high school friends were driving back and forth on Yosemite Avenue.
“There were four of us in an old Cadillac and Al was riding with Ed Bruno and drove up alongside. He yelled to us, ‘Hey girls, want to go for a ride’,” Carol said.
Those with Carol included Suzie Simpson, Gloria Gooding and Donna Comenzind, all from Manteca High School. They couldn’t resist. That was the beginning of a great romance now closing in on 50 years of marriage that produced three children who all earned earning their college diplomas making their parents proud. .
“I would never have been in the trucking business if it hadn’t been for my dad,” Al said. “Dad and Uncle Joe had started the Nunes Brothers Trucking Company in Ripon and also hauled milk from dairy farms to producers as had my grandfather hauling milk for a dairy farm on Murphy Road to Meyenberg’s near downtown Ripon.”
Al said he graduated from Ripon High even though he lived in Manteca and went on to Modesto Junior College where he majored in Ag.
His dad had a small trucking operation of only four trucks. He said his dad was getting cataracts in his eyes and couldn’t drive until after a surgery that sidelined him for some three to four months.
“I had to convince him to buy diesel trucks and two tankers. So, I started working for my dad and left school and we picked up more new accounts. We were driving short hauls to the Bay Area,” Al said.
“Al had all his buddies driving truck for his father and started his own business in 1971,” Carol said. “He and his drivers then went to Sacramento to get their Public Utility Permits for long haul drives. I used to ride with him on his early runs when we were dating. It was a lot of fun.”
When their first daughter was born at Tracy Hospital Al was returning from a truck run in the Bay Area and parked his tractor and two trailers at the curb in front of the hospital to see his wife and their new daughter Rebecca, now 47.
The couple sold their milk hauling business in 1969 and saw a better future in hauling dry foodstuffs. They secured contracts with Tri-Valley Growers and within two years they had 36 freight hauling trucks in operation while Carol did the books on their kitchen table. Their first computer was a Macintosh in 1985 but it was not big enough to hold their entire program and they had to go back to an earlier model.
In those early days when they were still hauling milk, they had a small testing lab in their kitchen where they would check for the presence of penicillin in the milk. Finding any trace, the milk had to be discarded.
Nunes remembers locating his first truck yard at Lathrop Road and Highway 99 on two to three acres where the Manteca Jaycees had their meeting shack. Next the truck yard would be moved next to Lancaster Van and Storage on North Main Street where Bill Lancaster Jr., and John Kamp had been members of the Jaycee group.
He remembered the formulation of the first Pumpkin Roll between George Perry, Bill Lancaster and himself as they sat out in Perry’s front yard. Al said he still has pictures of the first Pumpkin Roll contest that took place on a day with heavy rain. He recalled those behind that first event included Bob Brocchini, Bill Lancaster, Marvin Brocchini, George Fatzer, Bob Brocchini, Dennis Fogg and Eric Halladay.
It was in 1976 that Nunes became president of the Jaycees at the American Legion Hall on Yosemite Avenue.
“We built the Jaycees Jumping Car used in parades and built a haunted house in the old two-cell jail in the red brick city hall building on North Sycamore Avenue and it went over well,” he said.
Elmer Brown was the first president of the new Jaycees’ Club and John McFall who would become Manteca’s mayor and later the city’s congressman was also an early member of the club that started in the ‘50s. it was the Manteca Jaycees that bought and paid for new Manteca street signs, Al noted.
Owner of Manteca Camper and Trailer, Bob Davis, invited Nunes to his first Manteca Rotary meeting at the MRPS Hall where he would later serve as its president years later in 1993. He and Carol attended five Rotary International conventions and traveled world wide on their vacations.
Shortly after joining Rotary he led the area service clubs in a project to form the Manteca Little League setting up backstops for the players – chasing out the gophers along Powers Avenue was a great accomplishment, he said. Those gophers traveled north into the Spreckels Sugar grounds causing concern of Spreckels Superintendent Frank Nelson.
“Nelson called me and asked what we had done to drive the gophers onto his property,” he remembered. “You couldn’t have all those gopher holes on a ball field where the players would get hurt.”
The first year of Little League play saw some 300 boys turn out with their mitts in hand. The second year there were more than 700 interested and over 1,000 boys played ball in the third year followed by 1,300 the fourth year. Marion Elliott, principal of the adjacent Lincoln School, allowed league play on his campus ball field. Al Nunes and Elliott were both on the Manteca Planning Commission together – Al for some eight years.
Asked how he proposed to his wife, Carol interjected and said it followed a beautiful bouquet of red roses that she had received in the morning of her birthday April 1, almost 48 years ago.
“I tore those roses apart – sure there was a ring hidden in there somewhere,” Carol said. “He took me to Risso’s Restaurant in Stockton and I checked out every dish that was served, just sure there would be a ring somewhere. Weeks before he had told me how all his friends had proposed to their girlfriends and I was sure I was next.”
It was not until they parked in front of her home that Al took out her ring and asked her to marry him – and she said, yes!
Al was named president of the California Trucking Association in 2004 followed by being named vice president of the California branch of the National Trucking Association. The Manteca trucker is looking forward to Manteca Unified starting a truck driving school for students who can drive short hauls at 18 and get their long haul licenses from DMV when they reach 21.
Carol was elected president of the Soroptimist International service club in Manteca in 1998 and is now again leading the organization.
She has also illustrated a children’s book, “Grandpa’s Orchard and Christmas Pie.” Of Carol’s many kitchen delights, her husband’s choice is her rack of lamb.
“Nothing she cooks is ever sent back,” he said.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.