September 1, 2001
ALBERTON, P.E.I. – Drivers pull into truck stops for food, fuel and sleep, but sometimes they get a little more than they were counting on.
Art White, now 51, stopped at the Happy Landing Truck Stop back in June of 1989.
He had been there several times before because he liked the place.
“It was one of those smaller ones, with people that were friendly,” he says.
Maria, now 56, was a waitress at the stop and had been working there for a year.
She was divorced and worked in the restaurant mainly because there were few choices for employment in the small town of South River, Ont.
White says he met Maria when she served him coffee.
He was attracted to the way she walked with her coffee pot.
“She walked with authority and she walked differently,” he remembers fondly.
“She had a cute little walk.”
She served him his meal and they began talking.
Maria understood the truckers long solitary hours behind the wheel and knew they need company.
“The drivers like to talk,” she says. “I always talk to the regulars, but Art draws people to him.”
Art wanted to exchange phone numbers, but Maria explained she was casually seeing someone at the time.
But Art left his number anyway and said he would like to know her better if she ended her relationship with the other man.
He left the restaurant and went into the attached convenience store.
Maria walked past the door and overheard Art telling the store owner he would never get married again.
Even though it was the furthest thing from her mind at the time, Maria recalls instantly thinking to herself, “We will see about that buddy.”
To this day she can’t explain why.
Maria did end her relationship with the other man, but decided not to call Art.
“I thought I should call him, but I’m not the kind of person who would call so quickly,” she recalls.
In August, Art landed once more at the Happy Landing and Maria was his waitress once again.
After his meal, he asked Maria if she could do him a favor.
He explained he was driving a big candy apple red Kenworth in the back and he wondered if when she finished her shift at 11:00 p.m. would she come and knock on his door.
He needed her to wake him as he didn’t have an alarm clock. “Run away, do whatever you want. But knock hard enough to wake me up so I can get going,” he pleaded.
Maria said no.
So, Art took another approach.
He asked a gas attendant to wake him up when Maria was off work.
The attendant did and Art went back into the Happy Landing for his breakfast.
Maria says she was ready to go to bed but decided to stay and talk to him.
They had a great conversation and he told her about his life and what he wanted for the future.
Maria said he had big dreams, he just got his truck and had started up his own company, White Dove Truck Lines Inc.
It was just the beginning.
Art stopped at the Happy Landing as often as he could and they began to get to know each other. Both Art and Maria were divorced and had children from previous marriages.
Art took Maria to Quebec for a little weekend getaway from their hectic schedules.
Eventually, Maria left the truck stop to help Art run the new business from her home.
They were married in South River on June 9, 1992.
Art says she had everything planned long before he even proposed.
They had a beautiful wedding: 100 people attended.
Art and his new bride were chauffeured by a horse-driven carriage through the town to the reception and they chose “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion as their wedding song.
They lived a good life, bought a home with a pool, hot tub and two Cadillacs.
In the fall of 1995, due to poor money management they lost the business and were bought out by McGill Transport.
Art stayed on as the western division manager but eventually left the company.
He spent a couple of years at QuickX Transportation and now drives for Carbra Transport Inc.
Art says their nine years together have been rags to riches to rags, but adds “Maria stuck by my side through everything thick and thin and that’s why I love her.”
This past winter, the Whites bought another truck and started driving together.
Maria says she was trying to get her licence but driving didn’t appeal to her.
“It’s not so much the driving, but if things happened I wouldn’t know how to react in the truck,” she says.
While on the road this past March, Art’s mother, Hazel suffered a stroke.
Her condition was unknown and Art vowed that if she survived, his mother would never live alone again.
Art’s mother recovered, and he and Maria picked up and moved to P.E.I to take care of her. Art says that as with any crisis, Maria handled the brunt of it.
With Art back on the road, they go months at a time without seeing each other and miss each other terribly.
“How we handle being apart is pure devotion and love,” he goes on to explain.
“We have a light at the end of our tunnel. And when we get to it we will be together more often. When I come home from the road, it’s like the Titanic hitting the iceberg.” n
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