Gas prices evoke thoughts of better times

Published 11:00 pm Friday, February 1, 2013

Funny about the things that we inherit from our parents. The color of our eyes and hair. Small bones, big bones. Hook noses and thin lips. Ill tempers and winning smiles. Stuff like that.

And, then things like the trait that I inherited from my daddy – an allergy to new automobiles. The dollar signs in his eyes caused him to go blind, as they do me.

Daddy couldn’t see paying hard earned dollars for a brand new car when it would be a used car as soon as you drove it off the lot. So, we never had a brand new car. The closest we came was a dark green Hudson that looked like a bloated frog on its last leap.

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For several years, that almost-like-new Hudson was the backdrop for our Easter Sunday pictures. Back then, for whatever reason, people liked to take pictures with the subjects standing by their cars. Much like people do today standing in front of their lake homes or beach houses or bass fishing boats.

Since a car was the most expensive thing that we could ever purchase other than a house, I guess that made some kind of sense. But the ugliest that I ever looked was on Easter Sunday in a ruffled dress with nylon socks and a hat on my head. Put me up against the bloated frog car and that was a captured moment that would be an embarrassment to my dying day.

But, like Daddy, a bright, shiny new car is not something that I desire… or have. The names Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes Benz mean nothing to me.

Give me a car that runs on fumes and a half-quart of oil with jumper cables and a jack as extras and I’m completely satisfied.

I bought Maybelle for $3,000 seven years ago and, when she began to show her age with a little flaking here and there, a cosmetic facelift did the trick. She has a dent or two but she still gets about 40 miles to the gallon on the road. And, with gas prices on the daily rise, $3.34 and rising, she looks better every day.

On Thursday, for only a couple of times in our relationship, Maybelle guzzled down nearly $30 of gas, ethanol and all.

“What kinda mileage you get on that Honda?” the man at the next pump asked enviously.

“About 37 in town and 40 on the road.”

“Wanna sell it?” he asked as he topped out at $86.92. “Robbed. We’re gettin’ robbed by the oil companies just the same as if they had a gun to our heads. I can remember when gas was 50 cents a gallon. You remember that?”

Fifty cents a gallon. How well I remember.

Leaving Mama’s house one afternoon, Sis gave out of gas as she rolled out onto Main Street and needed a push to Douglas Ingram’s fillin’ station just up the street.

I pulled my Mercury station wagon behind her Falcon and nudged it slowly forward to the gas pumps. All the time I was looking at my gas gauge and knowing that I’d be lucky to get Sis to the pump before I drained my tank.

As we eased into the station, Douglas let out a whoop of laughter that could be heard all the way to town.

“I can’t believe this. You’re pushing her and I’ll bet you don’t have a nickel’s worth of gas yourself,” he said, slapping his thigh and his belly jiggling in laughter.

I was not about to let “Tubby” know that he was right. So, after Sis got a dollar’s worth of regular, I sidled up and leaned in the car window. “Follow me up to the Gulf station and, if I give out, push me.”

She nodded and we pulled off leaving Tubby in his merriment.

I didn’t give out of gas. I made it to the Gulf station and splurged. I got two gallons of gas at 50 cents a gallon. And Sis and I were both still riding on those same tanks of gas when we went to back to Mama’s for Sunday dinner, five days later.

Yep, I remember the good ol’ days when gas was 50 cents a gallon but I wouldn’t mind one bit to pay $4 a gallon for gas if Daddy could be here rumbling around in an orange pickup truck with a white door and Mama was in the kitchen cooking Sunday dinner.