Vintage Haulers honor Mello in 29th annual truck show in Johnston


Even though Old Man Weather blanketed Johnston Warwick Memorial Park with unseasonably chilly temperatures, there was a special warmth for the Ocean State Vintage Haulers 29th Annual Antique Truck Show.

That’s because the highly regarded show was being held in memory of the late Ray Mello whose two mighty machines were placed at the park’s entrance.

Mello, who was from Portsmouth, had not one but two heavy hauler trucks that his son Jason Mello – also of Portsmouth – agreed to sell to Jodie Rebello of Rehoboth, Ma.

“Wow, those are absolutely beautiful trucks,” was the consensus of many people who took in the well-attended show as they looked over the 1980 Peterbuilt Model 359 and 1989 Western Star Model 4964 that were imprinted on tee shirts bearing the last Mello’s name and were on sale Sunday.

There were trucks of all eras and models Sunday, like the famed 1952 chain-driven Sterling which is owned by Vice President Joe Pingitore – whose late brother Joseph Pingitore was the non-profit’s popular president prior to his passing on October 25, 2021 at the tender age of 60.

“Joe is still missed by everyone,” people told David Pingitore, who is secretary-treasurer of the Johnston Firefighters Local 1950. “He was always a big part of this show’s success.”

The same holds true for Ron Rossi, who owns and operates Rossi’s Christmas Free Farm In Cranston who had a small fleet of trucks on display Sunday including his spiffy and shiny royal blue 1946 Ford pickup that had wide whitewall tires.

Another Ford truck – a 1924 dump truck which is owned by Anthony Andreozzi – caught people’s attention by way of the front tires size 30 x 3-1/2 and featured 650 x 20 rear tires and a Galion all-steel dump body.

Yet another showstopper was Mike Zuba’s 1938 Dodge that delivered gasoline kerosene and oil.

The 2023 show also featured five antique fire trucks as well as the Johnston Fire Department’s famed shiny red Humvee which was refurbished by Gary Salzillo’s Northeast Auto Body in Johnston.

Of course, the show offered everything for families, including a food truck, disc jockey Ray Arruda and mega trucks whose owners invited little boys and girls a chance to sit in the cab as if they were actually driving the big monster machines.


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