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Give Me $2 of Regular

The current prices of gas brought up some old memories of my time at Ted’s Apco. I worked there part-time during my junior year and it was a learning experience on many levels. It was there that I met Jerry Petty who had recently got out of the navy. He had the first chopper that I actually saw in real life instead of in a magazine. Jerry said it wasn’t a true chopper but it looked like one to me. If my memory is correct, it was a Honda 350, red in color with plenty of chrome and it was stretched out and the fancy seat was low to the ground. He had it for sell, but it was way beyond my $1.25 per hour budget.

Besides being cool and a former boxer in the navy; Jerry taught me how to count change. Instead of subtracting $1.85 from two bucks in my head, I learned how to give the correct change by simply counting up. Now speaking of money, there was another guy who worked there (can’t remember his name) who was not nearly as neat as Jerry. This person actually got fired because of me and I didn’t even know what was going on until afterwards. Here is what happened.

When I started working at the gas station, my shifts were Wednesday after school and on weekends. Jerry’s day off was on Wednesday so I had to work with this other guy. There was something fishy about him but I kept my head down and just did my job since I needed the money. After three weeks of working with this guy, he got fired. Why? There was always ten dollars missing from the till each Wednesday I worked and he said I was stealing the money. Jerry had a ‘talk’ with this guy and learned the truth.

One of the other employees at the gas station was Bufe, who happened to be a fellow classmate and younger brother of Jerry. Bufe’s real name was John and him and I had a blast working together. One day while the boss was gone, we put up a sign in the window that read John & George’s Apco now open for business. During that time gas wars were going on and the price was only 17 cents a gallon, so John and I were kept busy. When Ted got back, he had us take down our sign.

Once again relying on my memory there was a body shop right across the road from Ted’s Apco run by a father and his son. Every Saturday, the son’s wife would come over to the gas station and give Ted a handful of quarters. Why? The condom machine was in the men’s bathroom.

Another classmate that use to stop by Ted’s Apco was Randy on his gold-colored Suzuki. I would fill up the tank and watch Randy pop a wheelie as he left on old Highway 71. One day, he lost control and the bike came over on top of him. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt and was soon back to popping wheelies. I must admit that I was jealous of his skills as I never did nor have, ever popped a successful wheelie.

There was also a gorgeous young girl that use to stop by the station to have air put in her bicycle tires. Let’s call her Louise and my heart would skip a beat when I saw her pedaling towards Ted’s Apco. She had beautiful long blonde hair along with a great smile. I knew her from the school band and in the back of my mind, I thought she was just making excuses to come visit me. But the reality was just the opposite insomuch that Louise was just wanting air in her tires.

In 1973 I was no longer working at Ted’s Apco and yet gasoline was still a big part of my life. I had just bought a big engine Chevy after graduation and was looking forward to cruising the streets of Adrian and making the U on Main Street. Then a gas embargo started and the price of gas rose to fifty cents a gallon and many people thought the world was teetering on the brink of destruction. Almost 50 years later, gas is still expensive. Especially on an island…

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