The Spirit swings into Carl’s Corner, south of Dallas-Fort Worth

May 11, 2020

Chuck Robinson


Just south of Dallas-Fort Worth is Carl’s Corner, the next stop for OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker.

The Spirit is scheduled to be at the Carl’s Corner Petro through May 14. Carl’s Corner is at Exit 374 from I-35E.



Dancing frogs and Treasure Chest

Carl’s Corner is a storied truck stop. It opened in 1984. Carl Cornelius put six 10-foot frogs on the roof and made his truck stop a memorable landmark. The frogs were created by an Austin, Texas, artist, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, according to an account from the Austin American-Statesman.

Carl’s marketing scheme included cooing into a CB radio mic by a woman known as “Treasure Chest.”

Cornelius was thinking about closing down the operation in the early 2000s, but country music star Willie Nelson was a friend. Willie came up with the idea of Willie’s Place, a truck stop selling Willie’s biodiesel fuel, a restaurant, convenience store and concert theater. Willies’ Place opened in 2005, but closed in 2011.

TravelCenters of America LLC, owner of Petro Stopping Centers, took over in 2011, and there was a fitting grand opening celebration.

The Spirit has made many stops at Carl’s Corner from when it was Willie’s Place and since it became a Petro.

It is not the same as a Petro, said Jon Osburn, skipper of The Spirit, but the parking lot is less bumpy now, the facility is clean and the people nice.

Jon said he got some of the vinyl records that once adorned the walls of Willie’s Place when stuff went up for auction.

The Carl’s Corner Petro was dedicated to Bill Ater Jr. in 2016 as part of TA & Petro’s Citizen Driver program. That is the same year Jon was named a Citizen Driver.

The stop before Carl’s Corner, in Beaumont, Texas, was a little disquieting, Jon said. In a lot that held 275 trucks, there were maybe 45, he said. The double-whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and the oil industry’s financial problems seemed to have kept a lot of trucks off the road, Jon said.

Of the drivers he talked to, there was strong support for OOIDA’s fight for broker transparency. Most supported OOIDA’s stance, but it wasn’t unanimous, he said.

Last week OOIDA informed members of Congress about brokers who skirt regulations intended to let truckers know exactly what their cut is of the full rate that the shipper paid the broker.

Those that agreed with the Association’s stance said brokers should be required to immediately provide an electronic copy of each transaction record as required by federal regulations once the contractual service has been completed. Also, brokers should be prohibited from including any provision in their contracts that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records.

Those who opposed said it wasn’t the trucker’s business to know that information. Jon relayed both sides to OOIDA headquarters to help inform policy.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see The Spirit tour truck, stop by and say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon.

After Carl’s Corner, Jon and The Spirit are scheduled to stop at the Oklahoma City Petro. Here is the schedule.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.