“No Gas”

fordvan

Before I leave my series of posts about automobiles, I realized I had one more adventure to relate. In 1974, I was hired by the Head Start program to be a Home Visit Teacher in rural Oregon. This early childhood program had two centers near small towns, but there were children that were too scattered to be easily attend them. There were real benefits for poor children to be enrolled in the program, particularly dental care and nutrition support. The program decided to try having someone find and serve some of these children.

I was given a Ford van and a map and the requirement to find 10 such kids. Foolhardy as I was, I set out on back roads, stopping at houses and asking about 3 year olds. Once I had found the first two, I had enough suggestions that I quickly reached my quota.  I visited each family once a week, staying for two hours, interacting with the child and parent, leaving toys and books, and setting up doctor appointments and dental and vision screenings.

But these children were really back in the woods, in trailers or cabins, and far apart from one another. I put about 100 miles a day on that little van. This would have been fine, except for the gas shortage and gas rationing. The decision was made to allow alternate day purchases of gas only–even or odd days depending on your license plate. And my little town only had one gas station. And my Ford van gulped gasoline. Fortunately, I was friends with the gas station owner and though I had to abide by the alternate day requirement, I was always able to go up first thing in the morning and buy a full tank of gas, something not available to most drivers.

I kept that job until May of 1975 when I was eight months pregnant and my little van got two flat tires at once on a back road. I sat by the side of the rural road until a kind parent stopped, asked me what the heck I though I was doing anyway, and gave me a lift into town.

I resigned the next day, to the complete relief of all my clients!

6 thoughts on ““No Gas”

  1. I expect their relief was due to the fact of your late-trimester pregnancy and their concern for your well-being in all that back country. I am right, aren’t I? How they must have missed the resources you provided to them.

  2. You are right. Towards the end they were worried about me driving those,back roads alone. We all missed each other, and one mother had a little baby shower for me.

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