As a teen, I hung out with other teens, none of which, as far as I knew, had any criminal intent. Well, no major criminal intent. But life as a teen is what it is and sometimes you do what your teen mind urges or your peers prefer.
That brings us to siphoning gas. Smitty’s father, affectionately nicknamed Moon, drove a 1956 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery for Park Cleaners. He took it home at night and parked it in a garage across the street from the apartment building where the family lived. At night, we’d cruise down Adams street in Smitty’s ’56 Bel Air. He’d pop it into neutral, shut off the engine to mute the glass packs and we’d coast down the street and park across from the single family house at number 77.
We’d ease out of the car, gently close the doors and march up the driveway with an empty gas can and a length of rubber hose. We’d open the garage doors and easily siphon a couple of gallons of gas out of the company car. It tasted terrible, so we always brought along a couple of bottles of Coke.
A few years later, after dropping out of college and doing a stint as a mechanic’s helper, I landed a job as a paid intern, for want of a better word, at a family owned business that provided machine shop service and parts to local auto repair shops. It was on Adams Street, about half a block down from number 77. I work there for a couple of years, rebuilding clutches, doing valve jobs until Uncle Sam calls and I side step into the Navy, and after nine months of electronics training I’m assigned to an electronics shop on an air facility in the California desert, where I buy a used Triumph motorcycle and make weekend forays to the beaches in San Diego.
My second year in the desert, I’m planning on returning home for two weeks leave. I write my cousin and ask him if he knows any girls I can date while I’m there. He writes back with the name of a girl he once dated and with whom I double dated. A couple of days after I’m home, I call her and ask her for a date. She remembers me and accepts. The next night I put on a white shirt and tie and the three-piece suit I bought at Carson, Pirie and Scott while I was stationed at The Lakes and drive downtown to pick her up.
I park my father’s car in front of her house, walk up the steps and ring the doorbell at 77 Adams Street. She answers the door and ushers me in to meet her family. Five years later we marry.
Don’t you just love coincidences?