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G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

It was frustrating, to say the least.

I was 250 miles from home, the needle on my gas gauge was just above the red mark, and every station I had pulled in at over the past hour had makeshift signs on the pumps that read, “No gas.”

I had trailered my boat up from my home in South Shore to the home of my brother-in-law, Allard Mercer, in Willoughby, 13 miles east of Cleveland, for a weekend of walleye fishing on Lake Erie.

I arrived late Friday afternoon. It was bad timing all the way around. High winds and storm warnings kept the boat on its trailer for the whole three days I was there.

A Saturday morning front-page story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer told how all gasoline stations in the lake shore area had vowed not to pump a pint either Saturday or Sunday.

This was an effort by station operators to hoist prices, which already had reached an astronomical 97cents for a gallon of self-pump regular.

Ninety-seven cents a gallon? Yes, you read right, for this trip didn’t take place in August 2005.

It was late June 1979. A revolution had curtailed all oil exports from Iran. OPEC – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – had raised prices by 60 percent (to $18 a barrel). These actions led to shortages with long lines and higher prices at the pump.

By the end of the third quarter of the year, as prices at the pump climbed to $1.25, the profits of Texaco, Mobile and Exxon had soared by anywhere from 100 percent to 200 percent.

Then-President Jimmy Carter, whose leadership was being questioned more and more, pushed through Congress the “Windfall profits” tax on the big oil companies, with the proceeds to go toward drilling for more oil at home, lessening the country’s dependence on Arab oil.

I didn’t understand it all then any more than I do now, with crude at $60 a barrel and gasoline at $3 for a gallon of regular, and gas stations running out of supply.

All I knew was that I wanted to go home and couldn’t. I had a six-gallon tank full in the boat, and, even though it was mixed with oil and would probably plug the valves, I was considering funneling it into the car’s tank to fuel my escape from Cleveland.

But then, with the needle below the big “E”, I spotted, in behind another business, a car wash with three gas pumps, and there was a hose leading from one of the pumps to the tank of a car.

I made a “U” turn and pulled in. I pleaded my case to the attendant. Fortunately, Allard Mercer was with me and was acquainted with the owner. The attendant looked furtively left and right, then motioned me up to the pump as the car in front of me pulled out. He filled it up. It cost me $15. He didn’t wash the windshield, and I didn’t offer to shine his shoes, though I certainly would have.


A reader recently e-mailed me asking about taking a houseboat vacation on Dale Hollow Lake, a trip my family used to enjoy but haven’t gone on now for eight or nine years.

Hendrick’s Creek Resort, owned by “Col” Frank Brende Jr., is the place we used to take a houseboat out of, and one that I know still has them for rent.

Hendrick’s Creek has several different plans and prices, from the 63-foot “Daydreamer” with six private bedrooms to the 38-foot “Captain’s Craft.” Prices vary too according to the time of year you go.

The 40 Plan, called “The Little Dreamer,” is the right size for 2 couples and 4 children. You can get another couple to go with you and split the cost. It has controls on top and in the cabin. It’s a 42-footer. It rents for $730 for three nights or four nights.

No 10 Plan, the “Captain’s Craft” for 2 or 4 people, rents for $415 for 3

nights or 4 nights, $470 for seven nights.

These prices are for June. After July 1 add about $250.Fall prices are much cheaper.

And this brochure I have is for 2005, so prices are probably a little more by now.

The office is in Canton, Ohio. Call 800-321-4000, or email inquire@hendrickscreekresort.com.

The Web site is www.hendrickscreek resort. com.

You could write for a brochure at:

Hendrick’s Creek Resort,

P.O. Box 35817-5

Canton, OH 44735.

Once you get there (250 miles it is), get your grub and clothes loaded, and

push off, it’s one of the most relaxing vacations going.

G. SAM PIATT can be reached at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

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