Monday, June 9, 2008

This Oil Ain't Olay

Too much driving gives me gas

If we don’t laugh about it, we’ll cry: We may be first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of our countrymen, but we are not first in the price of a gallon of gas. ‘Tis true that over the weekend gasoline topped an average of more than $ 4.00. Our brothers and sisters on the left coast are quaking over $ 5.00+ per gallon in some areas and that makes a bummer out of owning a Hummer.

The Good Old Days were more old than good: Sure, despite my pre-Alzheimer’s condition, which began at age 2, I can remember the 1950s and 60s when gas was two-bits (that’s 25 cents for you purists) per gallon and less. Cars were advertised as being longer, lower, and wider. In 1965 I bought a brand new Pontiac Bonneville with a “turnpike tank” that held 27.5 gallons of gas and today would cost over $ 120 to fill. In ’65, while driving across the plains of Kansas on a long lonely stretch of four lane highway I was stopped for doing 110 in an 80 mph zone. I was young. Speed was exhilarating. And gas was less than 20 cents per gallon in St. Joseph, MO. It mattered not that when you pressed the pedal to the metal the speedometer seemed to race with the gas gauge.

Round One ends in the 1970s: To have lived through that era was to have lifelong pleasant memories. Young and stupid is the best way to have enjoyed our country from coast to coast and border to border including the shores of Hawaii. But the gas crunch of the late ‘70s punctured our cheap, gas-Happy Days and slapped us into the reality of long lines and high gas prices (up to $ 1.00 per gallon and $ 39 per barrel oil). Gas could only be purchased on even or odd days, congress imposed the ”double nickel” (55 mph) speed limit, and Toyota began its climb into America’s garages. Gas mileage was posted on new car windows – except for pickup trucks.

How soon we forget – or accept: We did conserve as a nation. Of course we blamed the oil crisis on the administration and President Jimmy Carter had the bad lick to be a one-term whipping boy. But the memories began to fade. First mini-vans were introduced, then the big clumsy awkward Suburban was given soft appointments and became the darling of the SUV generation, and finally, pickup trucks, once the butt of jokes, became the number one seller in the U.S.A. and stayed there for years. Conservation evaporated like gas fumes.

Back to the future: With gas passing $ 4 per gallon some say, “Sure, but it is more than double that in Europe.” But many others are rushing to dump their SUVs for smaller, more efficient cars and gas/electric hybrids. Americans are unique in trading in their old cars for new ones. We are also trading one problem for another. Batteries from the one million hybrids currently on the road plus the millions more that will be eventually, need to be disposed of. Lead acid and nickel cadmium are poison to the environment. Although low gas prices are Gone With The Wind I’m sure most of us will take the Scarlett O’Hara position of “I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

A little blogging music Maestro... “All I Need is a Miracle,” by Mike and the Mechanics.

Dr. Forgot

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