Note: This feature is in the February TT&C 2013 issue.
Turky Burky sitting in his model-filled office with the first Buddy L pressed-steel toy tow truck that he bought at his first toy show in Nashville, Tenn., in 1992.
A Smith-Miller custom-built tow truck in Burky’s business colors. It was created using a Smith-Miller cab and a Miller Ironson Autocar frame and wrecker body along with additional parts from Miller Toys in Arizona.
Skoglund and Olsen cast-iron toy tow truck from Sweden. This model closely resembles a U.S.-made cast-iron toy tow truck from the 1920s.
One of Burky’s pedal tow trucks converted from a reproduction 1950s pedal fire truck.
Other stories in the Feb. TT&C 2013 are:
• TT&C’s BEST Replicas of 2012 by Mark Macreading
• Mitch Griess Created the Oilfield Dioramas by Dee Goerge
• Art Catino Specializes in MINING Equipment by Katie Navarra
• Bernie’s WOODEN Beauties by Cindy Ladage
William Shakespeare once famously wrote, “What’s in a name?” In the more than 600 years since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, philosophers have often pondered the value of a name and how it influences a person’s character.
Few collectors have been more influenced by their names than Turky Burky of Charleston, S.C.
He was born Werner Burky, but when he was just 2 or 3 years old he had difficulty pronouncing the name Burky.
“Every time I said my name it came out sounding like Turky, not Burky. My mother, Pat Burky, thought it was cute, so she started calling me Turky Burky. The name stuck.
“All through grammar, junior and high school my close friends called me Turky. My parents gave me a 1970 Monte Carlo when I left for college, and my mother had vanity plates put on the car that read ‘Turky.’ I’m nearly 60 years old now and I’ve been called Turky all my life.”
Burky fell into his lifelong career almost as easily as he fell into his name, both of which led to his collecting model trucks. In September 1978 Burky rode his 1976 Harley Superglide to Atlanta for a Kruse Antique Car Auction. On Sunday when he left to return home, the weather had changed and it was sleeting and raining.
Burky stopped at a Village Gulf station in Smyrna, Ga., hoping to rent or buy a small truck to carry his Harley back to Charleston in.
“There was an old man there and I tried to buy his 1968 Ford Fairlane Ranchero sitting out front. He said he would not sell it because he was retiring and wanted it to pull his fishing boat. Instead he offered to sell me his 1970 Ford F-350 tow truck for $3,500.
“I didn’t want a tow truck; all I wanted was a warm dry ride home. We haggled for nearly four hours and I finally paid him $2,200 for the tow truck. With a little work we got the Harley on the back of the tow truck, tied it to the boom and I headed toward Charleston on I-20.”
Just before getting to Augusta, Burky spotted a 1975 Olds 98 on the side of the road with the hood up and steam rising “like a genie out of a bottle.” He pulled over and offered to help the man, who asked Burky to tow him to the next town. Burky was surprised by the request at first, until he remembered he was driving a tow truck.
“I knew how to hook up a car,” Burky said, “so I hooked the big Olds up from the front and sort of tiptoed the tow truck to the next town with a service station.
“The man asked me what he owed me but I didn’t have a clue, so he paid for the gasoline to fill my tow truck. When I got back to Charleston within two weeks I was in the wrecker business.”
Today Burky has 25 tow trucks including the original 1970 Ford F-350 he purchased back in 1978. To complement his towing service, Burky started collecting model tow trucks.
Want to read the rest of the story? It's available in the Feb. TT&C 2013 magazine!
Call (701) 883-5206 or (701) 883-5206 to purchase or order online at: http://www.toytrucker.com/past-issues.html