“I didn’t even know this was here.”
That phase was repeated by several area residents Wednesday when the American Legion moved its morning coffee to the Doonan Truck Museum, located at Doonan Peterbilt of Great Bend, 2 miles east of town at the U.S. 56/K-156 Junction.
The free museum can be found near the big red “Peterbilt” sign on the southwest corner of the compound. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Chuck Carper, general manager at the Peterbilt/GMC dealership, said tour groups are welcome. If planning a visit, it’s best to call him at least a day ahead of time at 620-792-2491.
“Welcome to Wendell’s Dream,” Carper said as he welcomed veterans and other guests. The late Wendell Doonan (1923-2014) created the museum, with the help of longtime employee Bill Pickle. Visitors who want to know more about the vehicles on display can watch a video narrated by Doonan.
There are several beautifully restored cars and trucks in the museum, including the first GMC pickup Wendell Doonan ever sold, a 1954 half-ton truck restored in 1985.
Bill and Cheryl Pickle own some of the vehicles in the museum, including a 1946 International tow truck. Printed on the doors are the words, “W.W. Pickle - Tires-Batteries-Towing - Phone 1045.”
“It was one of the first trucks built after World War II,” Bill Pickle said. (Between 1941 and 1943, the only trucks International made were for the military.) He and Doonan both loved to find and restore antique vehicles.
The Pickles are also active members in Great Bend’s American Legion Post 180, and they helped arrange rides to the museum on Wednesday.
Usually, the Post at 1011 Kansas Ave. has coffee and doughnuts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. Service Officer Larry Buczinski makes sure there’s plenty of coffee.