Tag Archives: travel stories

I Remember: “Free Air”

Hi Friends:

I remember when every Gas Station had an air hose … sometimes, it was between the gas pumps, and sometimes it was near (or just inside) the “Service Bay.”

Come to think of it … I remember Gas Stations … Real Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas, check your oil, and clean your windshields.
Just thinking about the term “Gas Station” brings back a lot of different “I Remember” categories.

I remember the saying that, “When gas was 25cents a gallon, they’d pump your gas, check your oil, clean your windshield, and you’d always get something free like a dish or a glass, or something free … Then, when gas got to be a dollar a gallon, they did none of this.”

Here’s another:
Yes … I remember … when gas was 1.00.
If you really want to get crazy … I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon …

I remember when Daddy would stop and get gas, and he would never mention how much gas he wanted, by dollar amount, but by gallons. He’d say, “Give me 5 gallons.”

We don’t have a “Service Station” within driving distance, and, frankly, I don’t even know where the closest “Gas Station” is.

I remember, as time went by, in different towns I’ve lived in, that there was always one “Gas Station” in town. Where you could get gas, get air for your tires, and, they even would have an active Service Bay, with “Mechanic on Duty.” Often, this was where you would take your car to get it repaired, and it was the only place where you trusted the mechanic, because you knew him … maybe, even went to the same Church.

Gradually, one-by-one, these Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas for you, disappeared. Replaced by “Convenience Stores.” For a long while, these “Convenience Stores” offered “Free Air” to go with their gasoline.

I remember when there would be only one place left in town where they would pump your gas for you. Remember always pumping your own gas, even though they would do it for you?
I remember driving up, getting out, raising my hand in greeting, with an “I’ll get it” to let them know you knew how to do it.

I remember when you actually had to learn how to pump your own gas … how to operate a gas pump … when these things were new …
I remember when the “Self-Serve” or “Self-Service” signs were used.

Change happens gradually … even in the gasoline business.
I remember when many Gas Stations offered two distinct sets of gas pumps:
Full Service.
Self-Service.

I can remember, even then, going to the “Full Service” section, and pumping the gas myself.
It never seemed to bother me, then, that the “Full Service” gas cost more. If a gas pump was available, I’d spend an extra 30 cents to not have to wait in line.

I can also remember when ladies, in particular, didn’t like to pump their own gas. So, this helped keep these stations stay in business as long as they did.

I remember the “Mechanic on Duty” signs.
I remember the “Full Service” signs.
I remember when the Gas Station didn’t have coolers, or groceries. Maybe a couple of candy bars and chips, up at the counter (which was always dirty). They would only have a Coke machine, and that was it.

I remember the “hose” that stretched across the parking lot, running across the pumps … that, when you drove over it … it would make a bell ring … to alert the owner that someone was at the pump?
Remember that?

Ok … yes, I even remember, it was always something you had to do, when you were on your bicycle … you would have to, as least once … run over that hose … make that bell ring … maybe … and, of course, I would never do this … of course … but, you would, maybe, run over that hose a second time … or more … whatever it took to make the man come outside to see “who’s there.” The trick was to be gone as fast as you could pedal … before you got screamed at …

Riding your bicycle to “the store” was always a thrill … we would seem so “grown up” … and, we would always get air in our tires. At the very least, we would always stop at the air hose to check our tires.

I guess tires … and cars … have gotten so much better that we don’t need “Service Stations” anymore. I know that there are still “Full Service” stations left, but not as many.

I remember “Re-Treads.”
Just thought I’d throw that in.
I remember “Used Tires.”
I don’t even know if these are available anymore, but there was always that one place in town where you could buy “Used Tires.”

Which would account for, sooner rather than later … needing that “Free Air.”

I remember when Daddy always carried a “Tire Pump” in the trunk of the car.
They were always red.
I remember when all tires had tubes.

I remember when there was this new kind of tire … I didn’t understand it at the time … but, they came out with something called “Tubeless” Tires.

I remember when, along with the tire pump … you always carried a “Tube Repair Kit,” which always included at least one “Tube Patch.” Remember the shape of the can? The “sandpaper-like” top of the can? Remember the glue?

I remember that having “Free Air” was a “selling point” for a gas station or convenience store.
I used to always buy used tires … so … knowing where you could get air for your tires was a necessity.
I never dreamed you would, one day, have to pay for air.
But, then, I never dreamed that, one day, we would buy water.

Anyway, those gas stations and convenience would always have a big sign … like they were so proud of it … the sign, and air, would always be off to the side … I guess to handle the rush of folks waiting to avail themselves of this service … the sign would proudly proclaim:
“FREE AIR.”

If you know me, then you could see this:
I would love to park near the “Free Air” Sign, get out, and then go stand near the “Free Air” sign. I would make an exaggerated, big deal of it. I’d stand there … beside the sign … and, just breathe … in exaggerated motions, arms flailing in and out, chest heaving … your get the idea, and, proudly demonstrate for the passersby (and interested on-lookers), the fact that I was enjoying the “Free Air” that was advertised to be available … at that exact spot.
“Hey … over here … there is free air!!!”

Maybe this had something to do with why they don’t offer “Free Air” anymore.

At least, here in my town … “If you want air … you’ll have to pay for it …”

Here, you have to pay 1.50 for the air … for “Five Minutes of Air.” Seems like just last year, it was only 75 cents. Don’t get me wrong: I am thankful for this air … even if I have to pay for it. If you’ve got a tire going flat … how about the ‘ol slow leak … it’s a real bargain …
This machine even takes a credit card!
Even has a “chip reader!”

I have learned to get my money’s worth by taking the stems off the tire valves before I put the money in.
What a genius idea:
How do they make these machines to run out … while you are in the middle of filling up the fourth tire? It never seems to fail.

Which leads me to a quote I uttered recently, while I was making sure all the tires on my truck were properly inflated. This is a “must-do” after the Winter, when all the tires have been exposed to the cold concrete of the garage, or just being outside in the daytime.

Remember when “Make sure all the tires are properly inflated” was at the top of the list for trip preparation? I guess it still is.

Anyway, I was on my knees, filling up the tires, when a friend of mine, came out of the convenience store where the “Air Machine” is. We talked for a moment, and, from out of the blue, one of “those quotes” just came out.
As he was laughing at me (I’m sure he has an air compressor or air tank) for having to pay for the air … It just came out:

“I remember when the air in this Country used to be free.”

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Advertisements

Shared Email Classic: “EMAIL SURPRISE”

Prescript: I often mention how long I planned to share a thought or story, and this is a good example of one I’ve had, waiting to share, since … well, I would guess … since 2005 … that’s 11 years ago … enjoy! 

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.
The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: October 11, 2004

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward
to seeing you then!
Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
P.S. Sure is hot down here!

 

Road Reflections: Part Three

As we were traveling through the Southland, I had the notion that I would just make a list, as we went, of things which I was seeing, and in many cases which I heard, which I don’t see or hear much of, north of the Line. Did I just mention a “Line?” Well … there must still be, because it was clearly marked with signage, and I’ve crossed it at least twice in the last few weeks.

Please note that this is not a “better than” or “worse than” type of recording. It had been years it seemed (even though we were in the Deep South just last Summer) since I had just taken it easy on a trip, taking the time to notice-and enjoy-my surroundings. The United States and its people are beautiful. I have written “Northern Songs” and “Southern Songs” with the same degree of love and devotion. I have written State songs and regional songs, each reflecting the individual characteristics of a particular region. Each state and region has such a remarkable part to play in the vast beauty of our Country. I love the entire United States, its people, and its countryside. I’ve had the opportunity to laud its people and places on many public occasions, including the publication of the new Anthem for American, “The Eagle Still Flies.” I don’t take sides … because I love both sides …

Yes, I’ve gotten it from “both sides” regarding the fact that I lived on one “side” or other. I’ve been made fun of, or ridiculed, from both sides. Mostly good-natured ribbing, but … sometimes I have my doubts …
Well … here goes … I have had well-meaning (I hope) people look me right in the eye … almost in a defensive stance of some kind … and, in speaking of the Civil War … they would, point-blank, ask me, “Which side you on?” Don’t laugh-I’ve had it happen more than once.
Here’s my answer … the only answer which I can give, because it’s the truth:
“Neither … I wasn’t in it.”
My only additional response is usually one of two thoughts, both from the heart:
“There were great men on both sides.”
Or, I will quote Robert E. Lee, who said, “We are all equal at the foot of the cross.”

… Something tells me I’m not going to get to that list …

One of the first things I noticed when I first moved to New England, from the Deep South, is that you just didn’t hear much about the Civil War. I say this honestly, and sincerely. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it was just part of your every day surroundings. You are literally surrounded by Civil War history, and its battlefields. In fact, the first real home I remember, and we lived there for several years, was very close to Chickamauga Battlefield, and we were surrounded, every day, by the War’s history. My love for history began with learning about the Civil War. It had to, as I lived where it happened. Growing up, we were just as likely to find a mini-ball as a prized arrowhead.

There is nothing civil about war.

When you are in New England, the war that you are surrounded by, mostly, is the Revolutionary War, and therefore, much of what you see and learn about is about that war. Again, you are surrounded by that history, much like you would be surrounded by the history of whatever area you lived in.

Yes, I’m proud of my Southern heritage, for many reasons, including because of my family, and the way we were raised. It is “just different” being in the South, just like it is different being in the North, or the West, or the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or … well, you get the idea.

And, yes, I got yelled at … in Virginia … in the Shenandoah Valley, at a concert, when the lead singer answered my cry for a particular song … He yelled, “No! No Free Bird!!!” But, the band did break into another Lynyrd Skynyrd classic …

Please allow me to say this: Every place that I have ever lived, every place that I have ever visited, regardless of how close or far, everywhere I’ve been, it was a “different world” there.
Think about this: Everywhere I’ve ever worked, regardless of what state or city or region, that place was its own, different world. I’ve worked at fast food places and large retail chains. Plus, it seems that everyone that I’ve ever talked with about their job, they all say pretty much the same thing:
“It’s its own world.”

Something else: Every place, every town, every city, every “where ever” that I’ve ever lived in, I have heard the same, exact thing: “If you’re not born and raised here …”
I hate to break the news, but, individually, we really don’t have any control over where we are born. And, if I’m not mistaken, individually, we also don’t have any control over who our parents are …
Yet, I still see it all the time, and so have most of you. There was a lady who ran for a public office for a city which we had moved to. Now, I love this lady, and she was really the first person we met when we visited that particular town, when we were just “looking around.” We all hit it off immediately, and I report this only for the example, as I still highly respect her: In the ads she ran to get people to vote for her, this was her platform, and the only statement she made to inform the voting populace of her qualifications for high office, and I quote it as closely to exact as I can. Here was her advertised qualifications:
“Born and raised in ________.”

That was it. In her mind, she felt she had to say what would get her the most votes. That’s what a political ad is for, right? I don’t know if it says more about her, or the mind of the voters. Anyway, I use that as an example.
I was even watching the movie “Jaws” recently. And, the sheriff’s wife was having a discussion on the beach, with one of the business ladies from town. Remember that Amityville was an island. The discussion was directed to Ellen Brody to explain that, if you weren’t born and raised on the Island … “Ellen … you’re just not an Islander.”

I am even tempted, to mumble this on occasion, when accosted “up here” by the fact that I wasn’t born or raised here. I fire back something about the Pilgrims … that it was amazing … they weren’t born here either … yet they chose to come here … to this country … for freedom …to live how … and, where … they wished … without persecution …

For some reason, I have always felt that it was more of an honor bestowed upon a town, if a person and family decided to move there. That it would place more emphasis on the fact that they were there by choice … rather than being “bound there” for the rest of their lives ….

Guess I’m not going to get to that list … for now …

Blessings,
R.V.R.

 

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 2

Simply put, one of the great things about being on vacation is that you get to do things you don’t usually get the opportunity to do. I mean things like sleeping late, taking naps, watching cable television, just not having to adhere to a strict schedule. I believe that success has as much to do with what you don’t do, as with what you do.
Being on vacation also means that you get the opportunity to spend money; to “buy things” you wouldn’t ordinarily be tempted to buy.
Perhaps the greatest “draw” of vacation, being able to just rest aside, is the opportunity to make dreams come true. Things you’ve always dreamt of doing, or seeing, or experiencing. And, yes … sometimes this translates into buying something you never thought you’d ever have …

Well … here goes … I wonder if there is anyone who, as a child, wanted something for Christmas … something, often, the only thing they ever, ever wanted for Christmas … every year, this one thing was all they wanted … and, they were so sure that “this year was going to be the year” … and … they never got it … never … ever … you were so sure that “this was going to be it” … and, it never came …

For me, it was just one thing: “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” Always wanted … always hoped for … never got. Everyone who knew me, knew this was “it.” Carol knows this as much as I … So many years later … I still recall how I wanted … how I hoped for … “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” From Mattel. They were, after all, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Growing up, I was a big boxing (and wrestling) fan. Loved sports … especially those two, because these were the two sports we were able to watch when I was growing up. It was also a very “hands-on” toy … but, seemed to be more skill than toy … It was one-on-one, just you and the opponent, and the best man would win … Your size didn’t seem to matter, only your skill … each seemed just as capable to “Knock His Block Off!”

We were visiting what was touted as “The Largest Antique Mall on the East Coast.” For whatever reason, these many, many years later, I had this wild idea that I would look for “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots,” as, after all, they were antiques … and, after all … we were on vacation …
This store seemed endless. Undoubtedly, the largest store of its kind I had ever been in. All of a sudden, as I rounded a corner, I came face to face with “Them.” Was it fate? Is this a dream? No, there, in front of my very eyes, were “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.” Out of the box … in the ring … directly in front of me … stood the “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots!” Please note that I had seen them … faced them … beaten them both … in my dreams … but, this was the first time in my life that I had ever seen, in person, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Nervously, I scanned the surroundings to see if anyone was looking … we were alone … just the Robots, the Ring, and I … my hands anxiously reached for the controls … and there, in the far confines of this Antique Mall … my hands touched, for the first time … the “control sticks” of my dream-come-true … I was overcome with emotion … and, guilt … I don’t like to spend anything on myself, and this is a “toy” … my hands moved down to the string, on which the price-tag was attached … This was within “my limit,” I reasoned … and, after all, we are on vacation … Believe it or not, even for a “dream purchase” such as this, I had set a limit on what I was willing to spend … in the almost impossible likelihood that I would somehow stumble upon such a prize …

What I didn’t know at the time was this: In the exact same store … in a separate location … Carol was also contemplating a purchase … something that she had always wanted … something that she has only dreamed about … but has, for her entire life, eluded her … Her very own … complete … matching … dish set …

Please keep in mind that we have dishes. A lot of dishes. And, such a variety of both plates, bowls, and cups. As someone who is perfectly content with paper plates, the fact that all of our dishes do not all match has never really bothered me. Ever. In fact, I never noticed that they didn’t match. We have plates. We have cups. We have saucers. We have bowls. The fact that they have different designs, some are glass and some are ceramic (I think), etc., has not once ruined a meal for me. Ever.

However … it was the way which she said that she had never had one … but always dreamed of having one … that I heard … I know she had a limit of how much to spend to realize this dream, but, looking into her eyes as she held part of the set … my limit came off … Especially, as I stood there, hunched over the shopping cart, protecting my own “dream” investment of Ring, Rocker, and Bomber.

As we traveled, the first time we had to move from our lodging, I carefully placed my Dream Purchase behind the drivers’ seat in the truck …on top, without any covering … I have only just now realized that the box which I placed the “Robots” on was the box which contained the dish set … Afterwards, I put a pillow underneath the ring … to protect the dish set, of course …

Toshiba Digital Camera

We traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles, including book promotions. They never moved!
Think about this: What better protection for your prized dish set than “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.”
Funny … I didn’t get a single picture of the dish set!
Toshiba Digital CameraI looked on line to make sure I had the correct spelling of “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.”
I found this picture, on eBay, which I wanted to share with our friends. How about this!
Roc em sock em laid backBlessings from the road!

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 1

I’d have to say that I love to travel, especially when it’s not work related. I love seeing new things, new surroundings, new people (or peoples), and, as a student of history, all of the history which travel exposes one to.

I’m writing this while still on the road (7 different states tomorrow), and I have had some time to take my own advice, and “take time.” I have conducted a little “book business,” and the online store is always potentially “24/7,” but this idea of taking a vacation, just “getting away” is such a great idea. I often think of Jesus, who would, on occasion, get away from the crowds, especially to the mountains, which has always been my favorite place to go. He would spend much of His time, isolated from distraction, in prayer. And, He would often take His disciples with Him, to teach them in private, away from the crowds and distractions. I must confess that, while I have read and studied the Bible quite a bit during our travels, I haven’t prayed nearly as much as I should. I know … some of you may be thinking the same thought which comes to me now … there is no recorded incident of Jesus ever taking a vacation. I agree with this … I also agree that “retirement” is not a Scriptural concept, either … but, that may be a subject for another time …

Anyway … whenever I have the chance to travel, especially to distant places, I always am reminded of how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country, the United States of America. I often write about this … that so many of us here, just have no idea how different the conditions are in other countries. Not just religious freedom, either. Just the conveniences we enjoy, and take for granted, every day. That too, is a topic for another time, though I will continually go back to it.

The economic freedom and opportunity we have is unsurpassed. I’m not much for complaining about gas prices here in the US, as I know that many people across the world have been paying over 5.00 a gallon for it … for years. By the way, we paid 3.19 a gallon in parts of Virginia. We paid 3.67 to fill up in New Hampshire before we left.

Postage stamps? I never complain about the price of a postage stamp, either. I must admit that I did have to look up how much a postage stamp was, while writing this. Not necessarily ignorance, but I always buy a book of stamps at one time, and just haven’t done the math. I also always buy the “forever” stamps. I don’t even know if they put the price of postage on the stamps anymore (perhaps out of embarrassment).
The reason that I don’t complain about the price is that it may take 49¢ to get a letter across the United States, or even 2.07 to ship a pair of Christian sunglasses across the country … but in both cases … it would be hard for me to take it there myself for less … So, I never complain about the cost. I just feel blessed that we can mail just about anything, to anyone, and have a pretty good assurance that it will arrive. And, the ability to track the package or letter is just an added bonus that I feel like is just another economic blessing that we take for granted.

I like to be grateful for everything, “in all things give thanks.”

In the paragraph above, I wrote the price of a postage stamp as “49¢.” In so doing, I had to type the “cent” symbol. After looking, and looking, and looking for the symbol on my keyboard, I asked Carol where the “cent” symbol was. She looked at where she thought it was, then stated she had no idea where it was.
Next step: Here’s what I typed into the Google search: “When did they take the “cent” symbol off of a keyboard?” Well they did, and it appears it was for “coding” reasons, years ago.
Guess what my next search was? “How do you make a “cent” symbol on your keyboard?”
It turns out that it can be done, using the “Alt” key and your keyboard number pad, using a code … Sounds like another story for another time … By the way, for our dear friends in England, I saw where the same question was asked regarding “pence.”

The “cent on the keyboard” issue reminds me of how excited I was a couple of years ago, when we finally got basic cable on our TV at home. It just happened to be included in the telephone/high speed internet package we had gotten. We now had access to PBS … plus, since we were getting the local channels, we could even watch Monday Night Football, as one of the New Hampshire stations was an ABC affiliate. I shared this excitement with my brother, as he, too, is a football fan. To this, he exclaimed, “Where have you been? ABC hasn’t carried Monday Night Football in years! Hey … did you hear that they landed a man on the moon?” I get that last part a lot.

It also reminds me of the time when we went to look at cars, during a local dealer promotion. One of those where they send you a key, which promises to start (I still say “crank”) a brand new car. Because everyone who attended received a prize, we stopped by. Of course, you can’t leave without being “grilled” by a salesman (get it-grilled?). I told him that the one vehicle I really wanted was a jeep … not a fancy, cost-more-than-a-house jeep … I told him I just wanted an old army jeep with a top … that would make me happy. He told me, “Man … “get with the 21st century!”

I just noticed that I never just “sit down and eat,” except in a restaurant. Whether at work, at home, or traveling/vacation, I never just sit down and eat a meal. I will either be at my computer, or I’ll watch a movie or program on television. Deep down, I think it’s some kind of guilt I’m carrying about not working. Maybe I do need a vacation …

Well … here I go again … I started to write about some of the things we had done and seen during our travels … but, this all just came out. Maybe I should re-title this something like “Road Rants” instead.

Blessings,
R.V.R.