Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

All Gummed Up


Or something similar . . .
We were driving to town.
Maybe that doesn't sound like earth-shattering news to you, but we lived a half-hour away.
When the roads were good.
This was an event.
Mom piled us six kids into the car.
Inquired as to bathroom status.
And started out.
I should mention, here, that the roads into Milk River were never great.
In dry conditions, they were a narrow, dusty, dirty track between two deep ditches.
In wet weather, they were a narrow, greasy, slippery amusement-park ride.
That was anything but amusing.
And they had to be navigated with utmost care and caution.
Always.
Picture my Mom's 1964 Envoy hurtling along at 65 MPH.
With six kids rolling about like dried peas.
But we were safe.
Mom had both hands on the wheel.
She would put out her arm if she was applying the brakes.
All was well.
Suddenly, we reached a stretch of road that had been 'graveled'.
I use this term lightly, because said gravel was uncrushed.
Fist to shoe-size. It would probably be more accurate to say it had been 'rocked'. Or 'bouldered'.
Not good.
Mom slowed down, but rocks still spun and bounced, hurtling off into the ditch or hitting the underside of the car with deadly accuracy and vicious intent.
Finally one rock, a little larger than the others, hit with a metal 'clang' that shook the entire car.
Mom applied the brakes.
And deployed her patented arm gesture.
We all got out.
The smell of gasoline was strong in the dusty air.
We leaned down.
The last rock had put a hole in our gas tank.
Precious fuel was escaping, even as we looked.
Mom straightened. What to do? What to do?
My oldest brother's jaws were moving, rhythmically.
For a moment, Mom stared at him.
Then she pounced. "Jerry! Are you chewing gum?"
My brother froze.
In our family, one wasn't allowed to chew gum in the car.
Because.
"Is anyone else chewing gum?"
We all stared at her.
She turned back to my brother. "Spit it out!"
"Um . . . why?"
"We can stuff it in the hole and fix the tank!"
"Oh."
Weird.
But Jerry complied. Spitting a large wad of pink gum into his hand, he wriggled under the car and applied it.
We all bent down and looked.
It seemed to be working.
"Everybody in!" Mom said.
We lost no time, but scrambled back into the car and resumed our journey.
When we reached town, the car slid to a stop and we all piled out and bent over to look.
The gum had worked!
No more leak!
"We patched our gas tank with gum!" I proudly told curious passers-by.
They glanced at Mom's red face for confirmation.
She nodded.
Sheepishly.
Gum saves the day!

There is a codicil.
The shop that could have repaired our tank was closed for the weekend.
They used to do that in the early 60s.
Mom had to drive home with her gum-patched tank.
Then drive back into town the next day for Church.
And back to the ranch again.
Then into town on Monday to finally effect repairs.
That gum not only got us into town, but it got us back home, back in, back home and back in.
Miraculous.
I defy duct tape to perform as well.
Or taste better.
Gum
The perfect repair material.
Who knew?


8 comments:

  1. Your mom was a fast thinker. And that gum was worth 'way more than it cost! I dare a modern itty bitty piece of sugar-free gum to hold up like the old pink stuff - That was like chewing a balloon after the first minute or so :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Modern gum only sticks to things you don't want it to.
      Mmm. Chewing balloons. Remember that? Squeak. Squeak.

      Delete
  2. Thank goodness Jerry broke the rules that day! And I'm surprised that gum lasted as well as it did, almost three whole days!
    I remember my dad using gum as "temporary" putty around a window frame. It was still there when we moved out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Window putty. Must try that one!

      Delete
  3. That is women's initiative at work. My carburettor (in the days when cars had those things) died one day on the way somewhere. Fortunately I had a male friend with me who had a look and diagnosed the problem. It was a pin that had come loose, fallen out or broken or something. He shrugged and said there was nothing for it but to get the car towed. I rummaged around in my purse and held up a tiny gold safety pin...would that do? It worked perfectly and I could truthfully say my car was held together with a safety pin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love it! Now that's definitely one I've never heard before! :)

      Delete

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