But this week I’m drawing a blank, so I’ll have to resort to a story from my backup list of potential ones.
This tale happened when Madison Avenue was being converted from a two-lane state highway to its present four-lane configuration. My father’s Sunoco service station, which was on Madison just north of Epler Avenue, was almost impossible to enter or exit for months. We also had several school buses that we needed to service, fuel and park.
While keeping the station open, we leased one at the corner of Carson and Hanna avenues. We spread out our employees between the two locations. My dad stayed at the Madison site, and I was dispatched to the other.
Both stations were open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m., and we pumped the gas while checking the oil, water, battery, etc., and washing the windows. We also checked tire pressure and provided free air. Gas was about 30 cents per gallon. My how things have changed.
One morning as I arrived for work I noticed a car parked directly in front of the main customer door. I immediately recognized the auto as being owned by Mickey Johnson, a good friend of mine. I walked past the car, noted it was empty, saw the keys on the floor and started to open the station.
I figured his car needed some repairs and was dropped off during the night. I was sure that Mick would call and tell me what was wrong with it. I believe that he delivered pizzas during the evening at this time and would need his car that night.
If I didn’t hear from him by 10 a.m., I would call him for instructions.
Around 8 a.m. I heard strange noises coming the truck, which was wiggling a little. Soon those mumbling noises became shouts of “Get me out of here!” which were interlaced with profanities.
I grabbed the keys and unlocked the trunk. As the lid opened I discovered the car’s disheveled and confused owner.
We later found out that Mick and some of his friends were at a lively party. When it was time to leave, everyone concurred that Mick was in no shape to drive. It was decided that a friend would drive him home and would be followed by another friend to collect the helpful driver. Well, either Mick couldn’t give proper directions to his home, or he didn’t want to go home in his condition. So, they drove to our service station and locked him in his trunk.
When I find myself at a loss for a good story, I think of my good friend Michael Howard Johnson.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.