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I Could Have Bought A Pepsi...

Story ID:8962
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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I Could Have Bought A Pepsi…
By Chuck Dishno

In the summer of 1961, my Mom had taken the Greyhound bus to spend a few weeks with my brother, Shad, in San Antonio. My Pop passed away three years earlier and this was the first time Mom felt like getting away and visiting her oldest son seemd about right.

The bus trip was very tiring on Mom and she wasn’t looking forward to returning anytime soon. Mom was about 65 years old and not above trying some other form of transportation but she wasn’t about to fly and this was before Amtrak and Shad couldn’t get away from work to drive the almost 1500 miles to take Mom back to Fresno.

I had been working for a Chevron Gas Station for over a year and had a week’s vacation coming, so I volunteered to use it to go pick up Mom and visit my brother at the same time. With the week off and the weekend, it gave me almost 10 days to make the trip. I figured that I could make it with 3 days driving each way. Wow, how wrong I was…

My wife loaded up my 1956 Volkswagen on Friday and as soon as I got off work my wife, 3 year old daughter, Lura and I started on this long trip.

All went well until we reached Blythe, California. We were about 3 miles from Blythe when the VW broke down. We got a tow into Blythe but the only VW mechanic was gone and wouldn’t return until Monday morning. We had no choice but to stay in a motel and wait his return. On Monday he told us he could get us back on the road by Wednesday.

We agreed and by Wednesday noon we off on our trip again figuring we could still make it and spend a couple of days resting up and visiting Shad.

The rest of the trip to San Antonio went off without a hitch but needless to say I had my ear tuned to any

We spent almost 3 days with Shad and his family then it was time to head home. What we hadn’t taken into account was how much stuff Mom had accumulated while there. By the time we got all her things packed in the VW with the trunk packed to overflowing and a roof rack piled high with boxes and suitcases, we must have looked like those refugees escaping the Dust Bowl of the ‘30’s, but we made it with Mom and Lura packed tight in the backseat.

Everything went as planned and we made good time but Mom was prone to carsickness and we had to stop often to let her get some fresh air. My VW had no air-conditioning and it was getting hotter by the mile.

We tried to purchase one of those window type swamp coolers that fit over the passenger window but everyone must have had the same intention and there were none available.

We drove into Boulder, Nevada about 6pm and were four wilted people. I made the decision to stop at a restaurant/casino and cool off until the sun went down and the desert cooled off.

As we were sitting there eating dinner and prolonging the rest of the trip as long as we could, Mom was watching people go up a few slot machines and drop in nickel. I don’t think Mom had ever seen one and was fascinated by the whirling reels and people walking away with a handful of nickels. I asked Mom if she would like to try one and she thought she would. Mom must have visions of getting a large payoutand wakling away with handfuls of nickels. I walked her over to the nearest nickel machine and told her she had to use her own nickel as I wasn’t going to contribute to the delinquency of my Mother. That was OK with Mom and she fumbled around in her change purse, came up with a nickel and I showed her how to operate that “one armed bandit”.

Mom put in her nickel, pulled the handle and watched as those reels went around and around then stopped. Mom stood there expecting a bunch of nickels to come pooping out of the machine. When she realized that it had stolen her hard earned nickel, she turned to me with a tear slowly making its way down her cheek and said, “Oh, Charles that would have made a good down payment on a ice cold Pepsi.” I asked her if she wanted to try another nickel and she said no, she had learned her lesson with that first one. I shudder to think, if that machine had paid out a few nickels or heaven forbid, she had hit a jackpot, Mom might have started a new life as the gambling queen of Nevada.

We went back to our table where I bought her a well deserved Pepsi. We sat there for another hour until it cooled off outside, then piled in the VW and drove the 500 miles back to Fresno with no more mishaps.

I had learned my lesson about driving in desert heat and Mom had learned her lesson about gambling and that there is no “free lunch”.

I hope that if they have slot machines in Heaven and if Mom decides to deposit one of those Heavenly nickels, the machine pays out in ice cold Pepsi. She deserves it.