Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
My oldest grandson lives in an apartment with two other guys.
There is another individual who lives in a separate portion of the same dwelling.
My grandson refers to this person as “Old School”.
I’ve never met “Old School” but from my grandson’s description it sounds appropriate.
There’s no doubt there are some who would be willing to hang that moniker on me as well.
Case in point.
It’s gotten colder recently and my wife advised me that the air pressure in one of her tires was reading low on her dashboard.
So, I took her car to a convenience store/gas station that has a “free” inflation devise in the back of the building.
Hit the button and it delivers pressured air for several minutes.
Sometimes the unit works properly; other times, it’s sketchy.
But it is free.
I’m old enough to remember the red metal stands with a glass front and a silver handle on the right side.
You could crank the dial to the desired air pressure and inflate your tires.
It was free.
They usually always seemed to be in working order.
Today, in most cases, you pay for the air ($1.50) and it’s at best a “50-50” proposition that you’ll find one of these “inflation stations” in working order.
To inflate 4 tires, you need to take the stem valve caps off first and then drop in your quarters to turn on the pump and adjust the pressure to the desired setting.
I’ve been able to master the “4-tire inflation game” in one payment.
Used to be you had to carry a tire pressure gauge in your glove box but most vehicles today have a spot where you can check the tire pressure on a dashboard read out.
You don’t even have to use that tire gauge to push out the numbered plastic stem to see if the tire needs air.
Problem is, today, you rarely find “free air” and the pay-for” devices aren’t always well-maintained.
Of course, most motorists aren’t real keen of exhibiting any care for the coiled hose or fittings so the result often it a handwritten “out of order” sign taped to the equipment.
Of course, in the “old days” when we dialed up our air pressure, folks used to pump the gas for you and they had those need silver “change holders” on their waist.
I remember shelling out under 30 cents a gallon at times.
For a couple of bucks, a young teenaged dude like me could do some serious “cruising” on a couple of bucks splashed in the tank.
Most of us didn’t have an idea.
But today, when you’re shelling out over $3.40 a gallon, those 3 letters are somewhat important.
I also remember my Dad taking the family car down to Boom’s Tire Shop on Mulberry Street in Mansfield, Ohio to get the “snow tires” put on.
Today, I have tires on my truck that looked more “snow tire-ish” than those units Dad swapped out on before the snow flew.
For awhile, “studded snow tires” were the rage.
I never understood the attraction of these because all they did was make noise on clean pavement and I always doubted how much more traction you were really afforded.
My Father-in-law was a “snow chain” sort of guy and while they afforded great traction in snow, they were a pain to install and, most winters, they usually just rusted in the trunk.
I always had a pair of black rubber boots that you could slip over your dress shoes and they had those black clips that you would interlock after you stuffed your pant legs into them.
Talk about a fashion statement!
There was always a rug in the basement landing where all the wet boots sat to dry out before we headed off for our next outdoor winter adventure.
Most of the heating vents on the floor were covered with wet gloves and mittens, too.
Snow blowers and snow plows weren’t as plentiful in those days so the guys I ran around with would shovel driveways and pick up a few bucks.
We’d wind up at one of our homes where there was a paved driveway and a basketball hoop.
We’d shovel the drive out and add a few more pounds of air pressure to the basketball to make it bounce better in the cold.
Those air pump inflation needles were mighty important.
We learned that a little spit or Vaseline on the needle would help it slide into the black rubbed plug on the ball.
We’d shoot hoops until we got too cold or pooped out…which ever came first.
Normally, cold, wet hands ended most games because you couldn’t shoot or dribble well with gloves or, worse yet…mittens on.
It’s funny, because today, most of us are grumbling about inflation.
But, I’m “old school” enough to remember when it was easier to acquire for tires and critical for the game of winter basketball.