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Gas prices and Car Pooling
Chat with Pat

As we were driving to work this morning I heard again about the price of gasoline rising and that people should car pool. In this day and age that is easier said than done.

When I was a child not every family had a car and certainly not every adult had his own. Same with phones, but that's another story.

My mother worked at a defense plant during the war and every morning a neighbor would pick her up for work. There were six people in the car; three in the back and three in the front (that was before the gear column was in the middle). All of these people lived within a few streets of one another and they all chipped in with the gas expenses.

We had grocery stores on almost every corner. On Saturday my mother and I (and if needed my brother) would walk to the grocery store and carry the packages home. Then walk back to the meat market and then to fruit and vegetable store.

During the week we'd walk to the store and get perishable items like lunchmeat, bread and ice cream. It seems like every day I had to walk to the store for something. They are now too far to walk.

When my children were young the stores started getting farther away. A good friend of mine who lived on the same street had a station wagon. She would pick me up every Thursday morning at nine.

We'd pack the kids in the car and head for the store. That was an adventure in its own. The merchants loved our money but hated to see our children coming. Now as I look back I can't blame them.

Most people worked near their homes or rode the bus. We walked almost everywhere but then everywhere was where your grandmother, and other relatives and friends lived. It was where the neighborhood church and school were.

Very few went to churches or schools that were a more than a mile or two away. When we crossed over the bridge to the West Side it was a big deal.

When we went downtown it was on a bus. Now we have to drive to a shopping mall.

Most of our friends lived very close and when we bowled, took classes, went to dinner or anything it was always "who is going to drive?" No one drove alone.

Now when I meet for lunch with this same friend we come from all directions and everyone drives alone. It would cost more for gas and a lot of time to pick each of us up.

Some of us are coming from work or places other than home. Back then everyone started from home. This was also before seat belts and when people thought nothing of sitting on laps.

My dad had a car which we parked on the street. Few of us had garages. Gas was rationed during the war but I don't remember it being a problem (maybe because I was too young to drive).

Today the neighbors that I do know (we used to know all our neighbors) all work in different directions, have different hours, go to different churches, schools and have relatives and friends all over the globe. Many people drive for an hour or more each way to and from home to work.

I think car-pooling is a great idea and brings people close together in a common goal. However in this day and age when life is so different I see few areas in which it would realistically work. Not including car pooling the kids but people are already doing that.

Times have changed and in many ways for the better. But we have closed our eyes to certain problems and are now paying for it.

We like our way of living. We don't want to and can't go back. We need our own source of oil! We need more refineries! We need to grow up!

We need to stand up to the few who are worried about their panorama or care more about an endangered frog (that we never knew existed) than us. Let's get real.

We Americans are very inventive and we'll get through this. We will learn from it and never let anyone get us in this position again. After all - we are Americans!

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Pat







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