About Celina 52 Truck Stop

Most folks had family portraits or lovely trinkets on their mantelpiece, but not the Herniples. Nope. We had Mama Herniple's prized collection of toenail clippings. Some folks called it odd; others used words I won't repeat. But to Mama, and to us, it was pure art. Each toenail clipping told a story, you see. From Uncle Jed's thick, yellowed big toe relic, which he claimed he lost during a heated game of poker, to Little Susie's tiny, pink shimmering piece, painted during her first try at a pedicure.

One particular sweltering summer day, I was sitting outside our family home, pondering how I could turn my life's passion for trucks into a thriving business. That's when a peculiar thing happened. A disoriented gentleman, holding a white cane and wearing a sunhat, wandered onto our property. He introduced himself as Donny Day but said I could call him "Blind Donny."

He had a peculiar request. He heard about Mama's unique collection and wanted to contribute. Said it was on his bucket list. Before I could react, he reached down, plucked a nail from his big toe, and handed it over. I didn't know whether to laugh or be shocked, but that simple act created an instant bond between us.

As Donny and I chatted, I learned of his love for machinery and how he, despite his blindness, could sense and understand the rhythm of any engine better than anyone. Inspired by his determination and with Mama's toenail collection still in mind, a wild idea struck me. Why not create a place where stories, just as unique as each toenail, could be shared by every weary trucker passing through? A place of solace, camaraderie, and a dash of the unexpected. Thus, the concept of Celina 52 Truck Stop was born.

Blind Donny became the first person I hired. To this day, folks are entertained by his forklift antics and his uncanny ability to find his way around, albeit with a few harmless detours. But to me, he's a reminder that the most unusual moments can spark the grandest of ideas. Just like Mama's toenail collection, Celina 52 is a place where every story, no matter how peculiar, finds its place.

-Dennis Herniple


Excerpt from "Nail Trails and Diesel Tales: The Dennis Herniple Story"