Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

December 2004

Leaded or Regular?

I hope Santa is still running a herd of reindeer in front of his sled, because otherwise, the price of gasoline might put a crimp in the jolly old gentleman's travel plans.

As an old hand at the pumps, I can tell you that when the price of a gallon of regular is north of two bucks, priorities change.

During the last big crisis, (was it the winter of 1973-74?) I had to go the Toy Show in Manhattan and visit the in-laws in Dover, Mass. We had a Detroit traveling living room called a Ford LTD wagon. The plan was to gas up late Saturday afternoon, then burn just a few drops of precious fuel dropping me at the train station in Canton on Sunday morning so I could get into the heart of NYC. Then, wife, three kids and the wonder dog, Flower, could make it to a gas station in New Hampshire for another fill up, which would allow them to glide into Shelburne on fumes, and I would fly back after the show.

Those were the early days of odd and even fill-ups, but I was pretty sure my Vermont plates would qualify me for a tankful. It took a long time to find an open station, and then a really long time in line, but I was finally able to complete phase one of the plan.

However, as I prepared to back out of the drive early Sunday morning to go to the train, I saw the weirdest message in my rear view mirror. It said, "Sorry, out of gas." I looked at the gas gauge, it read less than a quarter. Wheeling around in the driver's seat, I saw that someone had written a message in reverse lettering on the snow-covered back window, to apologize for siphoning gas out of the tank of a car parked at the end of a long drive, in one of Boston's more remote suburbs. In reverse lettering, for goodness' sake! This wasn't some ne'er-do-well thug, this had to be some well-educated, pointy-head-sensitive-ironic son-of-a-gun.

I immediately internalized why nations go to war for oil.

Of course, after ranting and raving for an appropriate amount of time long enough to vent but not long enough to make me miss my train we packed up kids and dog and headed to the station.

Interesting insight into the workings of the enraged male psyche: I remember clearly my desire to literally draw and quarter the bad guys. I sort of remember my concern that my loved ones might never find enough gas to get out of Massachusetts. I have no memory of how they actually accomplished the feat.

Oh, well, we're all back together and looking forward to a joyous holiday season.