Pat Hunnell of Peabody is proud of the accomplishments of her many careers, including one of the toughest, being a mother. She is also proud that she kept her Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) certification for 42 years.
“How many great grandmas do you know that still had their CDL? I kept it for as long as I did because it was an ego thing,” Hunnell said.
After working in a man’s world for so many years, she said she earned the right to a little bit of an ego.
Hunnell, who just celebrated her 75th birthday was part of the first generation of “career women” in the U.S., with many of her contemporaries working as secretaries, nurses, and school teachers. She helped her husband in his business by driving trucks and assisting with construction jobs.
“When I first became certified in 1970, it was set up differently,” she said. “I had a class B, C, and A, which was driving a bus. I always like to drive. My husband had a construction company and needed a driver for six months. The job wasn’t enough to hire a man for, so he taught me how to load the truck. My youngest was 5 at the time, and he would come with me.”
Throughout the years, Hunnell drove truck over the road. Though she loved to drive, she didn’t care much for the lifestyle that came hand-in-hand with the occupation. She also worked as a construction worker in her husband’s company for many years.
“I loved construction,” Hunnel said. “Every day was something different, and I always got to see something different. I was good at both construction and driving. Most women in the field got away mostly because of their looks. But in my opinion if you can’t be just as good or better at the job than a man, then you shouldn’t have it.”
Hunnell returned to Peabody five years ago and currently lives on Walnut Street. Companies on her resume include Coos County Transit, LLA Kenbler, and Inland. In January she finally allowed her CDL license to expire.