Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Memories—Gas Stations

Look at the price of gas today: $1.89! After complaining at $4.50 a gallon, it’s only right I publicly post a sigh of relief that the price has dropped drastically. When I gassed the car this morning I saw the self-serve sign and it reminded me of how gas stations have changed through the years. Growing up there was no such thing as serve-yourself gas stations, they were called service stations. As soon as you pulled up to the pump an attendant checked your oil, tires, washed your windows and filled your tank—all for the price of a gallon of gas.

We had two service stations close to where we lived. Hollister, Idaho, population 87, supported Dude’s and Monte’s. Dude’s was on one side of the highway and Monte’s was on the other. Our family shopped at Dude’s. I don’t ever remember my parents stepping foot on Monte’s gravel. However, one summer when my grandmother and aunt came to visit I went with them to gas up Aunt Cleo’s car. They pulled into Monte’s because the gas was cheaper by one penny—I think it was 32 cents a gallon. I felt like a traitor being on the other side of the road and hoped Dude didn’t see me and tell my dad.

I went to Monte’s one other time. Every Tuesday morning in the summer we went to Primary (a church program for children). Each child took a few pennies to Primary and put them in a box for the Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC, Utah. We had a Primary rule that you could not leave the church grounds, but the church didn’t have penny candy and pop, Dude’s and Monte’s did. However, they were down the road from the church and therefore off limits . . . and a sore temptation.

This particular Tuesday morning, (I must have been about five years old) I decided to save my penny and not put it in the sick children’s box, but go to the store and buy a little black licorice candy instead. When our leaders dismissed us for classes, I sneaked out the door and headed for Monte’s. Even though our family always shopped at Dude’s, Dude’s was on the other side of the highway from the church and since I knew I wasn’t supposed to cross the road by myself (and I figured breaking one rule was enough for the day), I took my penny to Monte’s. I panicked, however, when I got in his unfamiliar store because no one was inside. Monte must have been out back doing his chores so the store was silent, except for me helping myself to the jar on the counter. I waited with my candy, but no one came. I feared they would miss me at Primary if I didn’t hurry back, but still no one came to take my penny and I was not going to leave without my piece of candy—it had taken too much thought to get it. I waited a few more moments and then finally put my penny on the counter and started to leave. When I got to the door, I realized someone might take my penny then it would be like I stole the licorice baby, so I turned around and picked up the penny and got more frightened and confused on what I should do. Then, I had a great idea: I would put the coin in the bottom of the Reeses’ candy bar box. When the last Reeses was gone and Monte was ready to throw the box away, he’d find my penny. I dropped the coin in the box and covered it under a candy bar and hurried outside. The minute I hit the bright sunshine I wanted to melt and hide. I knew I’d done wrong.

I hurried through the crested-wheat borrow-pit back to the church and was met at the door by Elsie and Vera, two of our Primary leaders. They asked me if I’d been to the store and I said that I had. They asked me why, and I blurted, “I had to buy mustard for my mom.” They told me to run along and play baseball with the other children, but I didn’t feel like it. I felt so ashamed I went straight to the car, hid behind the seat and pulled my sweater over my head and waited till Primary was over. I didn’t play outside at home for the rest of the day, either.

That incident haunted me for years. Many times when we drove by the weigh station (which my brother told me had a holding cell in it for criminals and thieves) I worried they’d sense a thief in the car and chase us down so they could lock me up. I worried I’d get to heaven and Jesus would be ashamed of me and say He never knew me. Sometimes I could forget about the penny and candy, but then when our Sunday school teacher would recite some dreadfully, scary poem like the “Jabberwocky” I’d remember it all over again and wonder what hell would feel like. I never told a soul about my stolen licorice candy.

Finally, when I was seventeen I went to Monte with a dime for inflation and apologized and told him what had happened. It was a huge relief to let the air out of that secret. Somehow when I was holding it by myself it kept expanding, but the minute I told Monte it went back down to a size I could carry.

Last fall Calvin and I stopped at an old fashioned candy store in Montana. They had barrels and barrels of obsolete candy and I found licorice babies. I quickly bought a little bag, wondering if they were as good as I remembered. Ugh. Nope. Not only did I carry guilt for a penny for a dozen years, I spent a sin on bad tasting candy.

What’s the price of gas in your part of the world?
Did the Jabberwocky scare you?


hennchix said...

What's a jabberwokie?

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

The scariest poem on earth to this five year old!

by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Kim Sue said...

"I spent a sin on bad tasting candy" hind site that is pretty much the way I feel about all my sins :o)

deidra said...

Maybe if service stations existed we wouldn't neglect our tires. That's an expensive, bad sin of omission of ours.

I've never even heard of a licorice baby. And I'm not sure what gas is around here (it's convenient to never go anywhere!) I don't think we're under $2.00 yet though!

Becky said...

This story is priceless!

P.S. It's been years since I have heard anyone mention the "Jabberwocky"!

Susan said...

I'm so ecstatically happy about the price of gas that I just want to go somewhere!

Tiffany Fackrell said...

I never understood that poem, maybe that is why it never scared me, I have a simple mind, those words aren't even words, it doesn't make much sense to me!!!

Your story was pretty funny, good thing you went back with your "inflation" What did Monte say when you were seventeen?

Gas here, Rexburg, is 2.29, I can't wait to get to washington and pay under two dollars!!

Lucy said...

I did something similar only I was in 7th grade and I stole a handful of swedish fish from a gas station. I went in almost a decade later and gave them a dollar. You're right, it haunts a person.

Gas is still really expensive here. $2.69 most places. They do it because they can.

Barb said...

Our gas is 84.5 cents/liter.

Julie said...

I would LOVE to have gas anywhere near what yours is! We pay 11.5 Norwegian/liter. With the current exchange rate that's a little under $8.00 per gallon. (Down from the high of about $10/gallon with the bad exchange rate.) Count your blessings!

I loved your story as well! You should be compiling all these into a book. I would be first in line to buy it!

Marie said...

Actually, the Jabberwocky still makes me a little nervous.

Poor Jane. Your childhood guilt in the car with your sweater over your head is so sad.

Gas up here was crazy this summer. It got has high as $1.40/L. Awful. But right now we are down to $0.86/L and that feels good. A year ago I would have thought this was high, but after this summer it feels like relief.

Anonymous said...

I want you to write a Monday memories book. I would buy it!

I still remember talking my little sister into stealing some candy and the wrath that she suffered because of it. It was about 10 years ago that I finally fessed up to my mom and I can't believe how much weight was lifted from that confession!


I love that you shared that story Jane. I have a "peach" story that is simular. I also love "black licorice". You are so FUN to follow!!! :)