ANOTHER CHAPTER FOR THE BOOK OF MY LIFE OR FEAR AND LOATHING AS A TEENAGER IN THE 1970’S

LET ME BEGIN BY STATING THAT I DO NOT CONDONE THE ACTIONS STATED BELOW AND VERY POSSIBLY THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I AM SO INVOLVED IN SCOUTING TODAY AS AN ADULT.

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So yesterday, as I do twice a year, I drained the gasoline from our generator. Winter mix out, time for summer gas. Also if I kept it in the generator any longer I would have to add stabilizer and didn’t want to do that. So, having been home recuperating from a knee injury and infection I enlisted the help of my 24 year old son to help move the generator without doing more damage to my knee. We tried to just take the hose on the generator and drain the gas into one of my five gallon containers. For one reason or another it would not drain. So I went and got a piece of hose and proceeded to siphon the gas out of the generator. My son asked me how I knew how to do this. I then asked him how come he didn’t know how to siphon anything. He repeated his question  and rather than repeat mine I decided that he was old enough to hear one of the stories of his Dad’s checkered youth.

It was in 1973, or so. The Nation was in the throes of the first of two gasoline shortages brought on by OPEC to teach us (or maybe U.S.) a lesson. If you had a license plate ending in an even number you could buy gasoline (and only a certain amount) on even days and the same on odd days if you had plates ending in an odd number. My parents owned a 1972 ‘Wide Tracking’ Pontiac Catalina. Now remember that gasoline was cheap and plentiful since WW2 and we were America and so what if our cars only got about 9 to 12 mpg. Anyway I got my license and then came along the gasoline shortage. So on an even day I would go from station to station, waiting online to get my ration of gasoline until I had enough for my parents and maybe some left for me to use, if I was lucky.

In those days the gas cap was in the back of the car. The license would flip down and the cap was under it.

ImageWell one night we were out cruising, as many of us did with nothing else to do (remember this was not long after American Graffiti came out) and the gas gauge was pinning the big E. We needed gas. First off the kid who’s car it was father would kill him if we burned up his precious gas, and second it was way too early to go home. Us macho guys couldn’t go home a minute before our curfews. What to do? Suddenly someone in the car jokingly said, “lets siphon some gasoline”. Hey not a bad idea. It was dark, quiet, and what the hell we were macho, remember? So off we went to find a piece of hose and where would we find that? Someone’s garden hose (there was no water shortage that year) would do fine. We found one, cut a length off and then went looking for the perfect car. We found one. It was a Cadillac parked facing uphill and that would help the gasoline drain. We then parked on the wrong side of the street, backed up to the Cadillac and we killed the engine and the lights. 

Did anyone know how to siphon gasoline? No! And everything that we tried didn’t work. So I stepped up to the plate. I tipped down the license of the other car, removed the gas cap and asked one of my buds to do the same on our car. I took the garden hose and slid it as far as I could into the Cadillac and began to suck on the hose with all my might. One breath, two breaths, three breaths, four breaths and bingo. Gasoline came rushing out of the fuel tank and I inhaled, swallowed and choked up on enough gasoline to make me start throwing up. I dropped the hose and then the precious gasoline began to spill over the road. Everyone, but me was laughing. I yelled, in between heaving, put the hose in our car we’re wasting gasoline. Someone did just that and we drained the Cadillac, put back our gas cap. and started the car. Down the road we turned our lights back on and away we went. I was still burping up gasoline. My clothing were soaked with gas (how the heck was I going to explain that at home in the morning?) but we were back in action. 

The car wreaked of gasoline, we were all laughing and having a grand old time when suddenly my oldest friend, I’ll refer to him as Duke here, took out his pack of Benson and Hedges 100’s (a silly millimeter longer) a book of matches and began to light up a cigarette. Everyone screamed, “DON’T YOU DARE LIGHT THAT THING UP. DO YOU WANT TO KILL US?”. In case you don’t know it’s not the liquid that would go boom but the fumes from the liquid. The match went out and the night went on.

Yes, now you know just one little story of why I work with the Boy Scouts. I am giving back. Sometimes I don’t think there are enough years in a lifetime to give it all back.

 

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