This is the story of Chester (Chet) E. Ott: a man of integrity, who believed a handshake was a deal. He is one of the most outgoing and inviting people with whom I've ever had the pleasure of talking. Even at 90 years old, his memory and witty personality has not faded as he recounts decades-old stories as if they happened yesterday.
I came to know Chet through his old employee and apprentice Dan Huntsinger, who spoke of him as a loving son would his father. I was quite honestly floored when Dan told me Chet was still alive; a rare occurrence throughout my quest to uncover the history of the Southern California refuse truck manufacturers. Often, I have to rely on second or third-hand stories; so to hear it from the proverbial horses mouth was a dream come true!
Dan reached out to Chet's family, gave him my contact information, and a few days later I received an email from Chet asking me to call him. I'll admit that before I dialed the phone I was nervous and excited, but that all melted to familiarity as soon as we began talking. I felt like I was talking with my own grandfather again as Chet began to reminisce about the past.
We have some great conversations and you will read the details of those in the following pages. I want to close this short introduction by saying 'Thank You' to Chet for opening up your life to me and I am honored to write the history of your experience in the refuse industry. I only hope it does justice for the legacy you have left and lives you have touched.