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My wife was originally from San Angelo, Texas. In 1984 we were living in Harpers Ferry, WV. 1984 was one of the coldest winters I have experienced in my long life. We drove from Harpers Ferry to San Angelo for Christmas that year.Our two sons were age 10 and 15. We owned and was driving a 1982 four wheel drive Subaru station wagon. I had learned earilier that the gasoline, in line filter, was located near the top of the engine compartment, close to the firewall and was subject to retaining water that it had filtered out of the gasoline. In below zero weather the condensed water would sometimes freeze and block the line. When this would happen, I could disconnect the filter, blow it out, reconnect it and continue on my way.

We had no problems other than icy slick roads, primarily on bridges. Driving through Arkansas there were many wrecks on the icy bridges, but we were able to avoid them and motored on through. This was the day before Christmas and we intended to drive on through to San Angelo, arriving sometime early Christmas morning. When we got to Texarkana we needed gas so I found a Racetrack gas station and filled up.

Racetrack was usually the cheapest gas to be found. The temperature was well below freezing and just after passing New Boston, Texas, the filter froze up. It was very cold and dark, but I was able to disconnect the filter, blow it out and start the engine.

We went a few miles and the engine died and we coasted to a stop. I got out and disconected the filter again. I got the frozen water out and just as I got it conected back up, my flashlight died. We had seen a motel in New Boston about 5 mile back toward Texarkana. So, I turned around and started back. The engine died again. Now I have no way to see to unclog the filter again.

We sat there in the dark for a while, trying to decide what to do. It was cold as hell and I had my family in the car which was starting to get cold. I got out and put the hood up, but many cars zoomed on past.

Finely a pickup truck stopped.There was a young couple in it. This was in the days before everyone had crew cabs and they did not have a topper on the rear. Well, they agreed to cram Ann, and the 10 year old in the cab. They would take them to the motel and try to find a wrecker to send back to get me and the other son. The 15 year old and I put on lots of jackets, gloves, hats and such and settled in to wait.

After a while a Chevy S-10 pickup passed us with his engine obviously not running well. It coasted off the side of the road about 100 yards in front of us. It was pretty dark but I could very dimly see the truck. I did not see anyone get out. I reached under the seat and got out my .45 Colt Army Pistol. We sat. And we sat. it was so cold our teeth were chattering.

Finely the wrecker showed up. We got the Subaru hooked up and climbed into the cab. We pulled up to the Chevy S-10. There was no one in it. There was a Lone Star six pack with three beers in it setting in the passenger seat. No one was there. We shined a flashlight around the area but could see no one. So we got in the wrecker and went to the Motel at New Boston. On the way, the wrecker driver told me that this was the area where the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" took place.

The next day was Christmas day and we found that there was only one other room occupied in the whole motel. I found this out at 10am when the manager knocked on the door and ask if we were going to stay another night. I told her that I was trying to find some way to get my car fixed and would let her know as soon as I knew. She said that she was just the manager and that the owner would be by that evening to check and if we were there and she didn't have the money she would be fired. If I wasn't going to pay for another day I had to be out by 11:00am.

I'll let you decide what I was thinking.

We found there was nothing open, not even a service station with a bay. We went across the road to a convenience store and bought chili cheeze dogs for our Christmas Dinner. While there, a couple pulled in to get gas and a twinke or something. My wife who was never bashful ask them if they were going to Texarkana. Was there a bus station there. The answers were Yes and Yes. She said I'll pay for your gas if you'll give me a ride to the bus station. I kew that when she decided to do something it was a done deal so I said ok, she said she would take the 10 year old and they would see us when we got to San Angelo. Away they went. I remember thinking. "Damn. we dodged the "Chainsaw Massacre" last night". "Will our luck hold"? Will I ever see them again?

The 15 year old and I went back across to the car and pushed it up to the bay door of the service station that woud have a mechanic there the next morning. We pushed it right up against the door so no one could get in front of us. I wanted to be on the road as soon as possible. And I didn't want to pay that blood sucking motel for another night. Turned out that there was so much water in the gas that I had bought in Texarkans that they had to remove the tank and run hot water over it to melt the ice inside. Had to use a high pressure air hose to blow out the gas lines.

Well, thats pretty much the story, except that I got rear ended by a girl with no insurance while we were in San Angelo. Oh, and I've never been in a Racetrack gas station since.

Larry and Carole, hope your luck continues to be better than mine was when you go through Texarkana. Watch out for motels in New Boston.

Views: 12

Tags: Christmas, chainsaws, motels, travel, winter

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Comment by Kittycat on March 12, 2010 at 3:30pm
And we now know why Racetrack gas was so cheap! It was mostly water with a splash of gas in it!
Comment by larry kremis on March 6, 2010 at 5:52pm
Where'd those people in the s-10 go? I'll bet they were crawling through the ditch back to your Suburu when the wrecker showed up. Great story Robbie, I know back in those days you can forget about anything being open on Christmas. As you know, our check engine light came on as we were leaving Houston, I think Pru pulled a wire. How convenient it is nowadays. The toll free number for Hyundai is on the window, cell phone, Garmin GPS for directions to the nearest dealer. It would have been different had it been Christmas however, but not nearly as bad as what you experienced.
Comment by CWO3ROBBIE on March 5, 2010 at 5:03am
Thanks for the comments. 84 was quite a winter.
Comment by Dazzling Zoomer Gal Diana on March 4, 2010 at 7:57pm
WoW. Could feel the cold and the frustration. And just a frisson of fear. Now I must get out a map and circle this place a "no go" zone ;-D, ripping good story Robbie - thanks. for sharing!
Comment by D. D. Olson on March 4, 2010 at 6:39am
That's a great story. Isn't that the way it is -- the horrible things that happen to us give us the best stories.
Comment by CWO3ROBBIE on March 3, 2010 at 8:35pm
Chilli Cheeze Dogs were the only thing available in Texarkana on Christmas day. But we went to Zentner's Daughter Steak House while in San Angelo. San Angelo has the best Steak Houses in Texas. The Nurses and Medics training in the Army Search and Rescue used to fly in Hueys from San Antinio to the Loaki Inn to get a steak.

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