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Hartselle Enquirer

The mind-game price of gas 

By Clif Knight 

 I filled our Ford SUV with a tank of gas at $4 a gallon May 28 when we left home on a short vacation to the Smokey Mountains. The cost was $44. I had a hard time swallowing the fact that the transportation cost alone was going to cost three times that amount. 

Little did I realize that the cost of gas was going to increase by 50 cents a gallon in Hartselle before our return six days later. When I saw that the price of a gallon of gas was priced at $4.40 a gallon in Knoxville, I decided to wait and fill up at a lower price when we reached Alabama. I guessed wrong. We wound up paying $4.50 a gallon, or 10 cents more, in Stevenson, Alabama, as a result of running low on gas.  

In looking back at a personal history of transportation costs, I was reminded that when I was a child, our sole means of transportation was a wagon and a pair of mules. The ride was longer but the cost was insignificant, mainly it consisted of a few ears of corn and an armful of hay. My mother was one of 15 siblings so we always had relatives to visit, some of whom lived within a day or half day’s wagon ride. We’d leave home early on Saturday, spend the night and return home on Sunday afternoon.  

We lived on a seldom-used winding dirt road where a passing car or truck was worthy of standing by the roadside and watching it pass out of sight. We had a good-looking mailbox, however, and could depend on it getting a weekday visit from the rural route mail carrier and his automobile. A weekly visit by the rolling store was another feature attraction, with its chicken coops, kerosene pump and big shelf of penny candy. We kids would stand in line behind our mother and wait impatiently for a turn to swap a handful of hen eggs for a handful of our favorite penny candy.  

Gasoline for high-powered V-8 cars in the late 1940s and 1950s was plentiful and easy on the pocketbook. When I graduated from high school, I worked as an attendant for a 24-7 service station on Highway 31 in Oxford. A gas war was in progress. Regular grade gas sold for 15 cents a gallon. An oil check, windshield wash and tire inflation check were free. 

How times have changed.