Selling Gas From the Seabee

Back in the early 1970's, when the oil companies held that shortage that allowed them to triple the price of gasoline, Ed Freeman, Dave Norton and I went to Texas to haul Ed's poor old Republic Seabee to Tennessee for a rebuild. Ed, a careful mechanic and a stickler for detail had worked out the logistics of the disassembly and hauling, using a plastic model Seabee and a plastic model boat trailer. Other details had not been so well planned, though; the Ford pickup had only one tape in it for the forty hour trip. Dave went along to help. Three men in a Ford pickup for forty hours with one Elvis tape. It was a memorable weekend. We disassembled the Seabee and strapped it to the trailer in record time.

Some gas stations were closed, and others were rationing, but we had managed to drive to Houston without running out of gas. On the way back, however, in the middle of Louisiana, our luck ran out. Pulling the heavy airplane had decreased our gas milage considerably, and most stations would only sell ten gallons at a time. We seemed to be stopping at every station.

Around midnight, we pulled into a large, well-lighted station. "Sorry", they said, "we're out of gas 'til 2 A.M."

We weren't happy. "Is more gas coming at 2 A.M.?"

"Nope," the attendant said, "we have gas. It's just that we can't sell anymore 'til 2 A.M. because we've already sold our quota for today."

This really made us unhappy. After voicing our opinion of Louisiana, the attendant, and oil companies in general, Ed said, wait a minute! The fuel tank in the Seabee is full. There's sixty gallons of gas in that sucker."

Ed went inside to buy a gas can, while I went out behind the station to borrow a piece of water hose. I only took about six feet. As we were putting the second can of gas into the truck, an old Buick pulled up to the other side of the pumps. A drunk got out and tried to figure out what was wrong with the pumps while his girlfriend opened another beer. They both looked pretty bad. We told him about the quota problem.

"But I've got to have some gas. This, er, lady has just got to be back home before two o'clock." He staggered over to another pump and tried it, then went inside to plead with the attendant. He had no better luck with the attendant than we had, so he came back out to watch us siphon gas out of the Seabee.

How much for a can of that?", he asked.

We had anticipated this question and had already discussed it among ourselves. At that time, gas was selling for about fifty cents per gallon, when it was available, of course.

"Well now", I started into my sales pitch, "this is not ordinary gas. This is aviation fuel. Very expensive."

"I don't care, I've got to get out of here", he was looking a little wild-eyed. "How much?"

"Twenty bucks", I said with a straight face.

He forked it over so quick it made me wish I had said forty. As Ed poured a can of aviation fuel into the old Buick, I heard the man telling his girl friend, "I've always heard that flying was expensive. Now I know why."