Monday, May 2, 2005

Oil Crisis!

Oil crisis!

It was 1983, so if you know your recent history, you'll know I am not talking about endless lines at the gas pumps or the manipulations of OPEC. No, I am talking about our farm house -- built in the early 1900's -- with a totally inadequate furnace, paper thin insulation, and a gluttonous appetite for oil.

For most who live in the U.S. it is hard to understand how quickly summer retreats as winter attacks in northern Maine; by November it is. . .


We were not trying to keep the house at 80. In fact, the warmest we were able to get it was about 65 degrees.

Each morning Sandy had a predictable routine. She would briskly get out from under the electric blanket layered under several other blankets. Then she would rush downstairs, dressed in sweat pants and sweat shirt, heavy wool socks, and a rose-colored chenille robe snugged around her. Immediately she would stand on the heat register that blew warm (not hot) air through its grates. Once there, my bride would wrap her hands around a hot cup of coffee, stare out the window at the snow-covered landscape and dream of mild Texas winters.

We were halfway through the month of November; Sandy rushed down the stairs and headed for her little oasis of heat and improvised hand warmer. On that day, the cold grates penetrated her wool socks. Problem -- no warm air! She went over to the thermostat and turned it up a couple of notches -- still -- no warm blast ascending from the cellar.

Bill, I think the furnace isn't working. She called out to me.

To quote Tom Hanks in the movie Apollo 13, "Houston, we have a problem!"

Re-entry into spring's orbit was a loooong ways away!

I knew we had oil; I had filled the tank less than a month ago, so I descended the steep stairs into the dark, musty cellar. I pushed the restart button on the furnace. Nothing! I wondered if the filter was clogged, so I removed the quart sized filter and found nothing. I mean nothing! We had burned through 150 gallons of heating fuel in less than a month!

I felt helpless as I watched frozen teardrops fall from Sandy's rosy cheeks onto her rose colored chenille robe.

Floyd Cunningham would come to the rescue. . . in about a month.


  1. As a native Texan who grew up in Presque Isle I can relate in so many ways... though we were stuck with wood. What a great blog! Keep up the wonderful posts!

  2. Luke,I will get the the wood part. The story just gets more zany!