Friday, April 13, 2018

St. Serendipity Finds a Vintage Oil Dispenser

Road Trippin' 
Steve McCarthy

Our Rule of Thumb for Road Trips is to let things happen. Our Patron Saint is St. Serendipity. When you let the journey unfold, when you’re able to change plans on the fly, wondrous things happen. 

A case in point. My wife, Marianne, had to go to the DMV for a new license. The only appointment was for more than a week after it would expire. In LA County, we all know what that means. You get to stand in line for hours, watching your life ooze away, trapped in the bowels of bureaucracy. The DMV office nearest us is infamous that way. Before it opens, the line stretches off into the rising sun. So, a plan was hatched. 

We’d take a Road Trip to a “foreign” office. Like Paso Robles, one of our favorite Road Trip destinations. I figured that including the drive, the time needed would be about the same. Naturally, we’d take our “new” 1969 Citroen DS Safari Wagon. Or Brake, or Estate, or whatever. This Auld Beast was resurrected from a thirty year desert nap and has been on the road for about six months. It’s our Cruisin’ Car. We have the TR3 for backroad flogging, this glides along on that famous Citroen suspension at a more stately pace.

We left at O’Dark-Thirty for breakfast in Santa Barbara at the original (and last) Sambo’s, a place of great pancakes. It’s right on the waterfront and is a Real Diner. After chow, we got back on the freeway and St. Serendipity got into the act. Right at the on ramp was the Santa Barbara DMV office! Taking it for a sign, we changed plans. They had just opened, and the wait was a mere forty-five minutes. So, DONE. 

Now, what to do next? Lots of options available of course. Solvang? Back to Carpinteria or Ventura (whose merchants need some help after the devastating fires and attendant mud slides) or further up the coast? One place we like to stop is Los Alamos. One, there is a great bakery, Bob’s Well Bread, that makes all manner of good eats such as Pain aux Lardon, that’s bread with hunks of BACON in it! There is also a great antiques barn, located in the old railroad fruit packing warehouse. So, that would be the first stop. 

This place has the usual small stuff that is always fun, a few decent re-pops, and lots and lots of Big Stuff. Furniture, armoires, dressers, tables, barber chairs, klieg lights, tools. And then St. Serendipity reached out his (or is it her?) wand and I found it. Waaaaay back in the furthest corner, a collection of Petrolania. Yeah, gas station stuff. 

Oily rag buckets, signs, tools, a truck sized hydraulic jack, and not one, but three of those highly prized bulk oil dispensers. You know the ones? The big square tank? The hand crank pump? The things they filled those drop spout oil cans with? And here I am with a Citroen Wagon, a beast with a huge space and the ability to carry 4000 pounds of Stuff and not sag or even squat in the back. 

Marianne was not too sure, but, being the good sport she is, she shrugged her acquiescence. After a bit of haggling, I got the price down $50 and it was mine. It’s a Union 76 unit, marked for “Kerosene” and is in perfect shape. It even has the two most often missing bits, the drip return spout, and the filler filter! It’s not dinged up or scratched, but is not restored, it’s all original. 

We hauled the thing out, I lowered the suspension on the Citroen, folded down the back seat, tilted my treasure in, easy-peasy. Across the road to have lunch at the aforementioned bakeery and then home in time for the afternoon crawl on the 210. 

So, the moral of the story? Let a Road Trip unfold. Look for the unexpected and let it detour you. You never know what treasures you will find! Now, should I convert it into a Keg-er-Ator?