. There he was face-to-face with yet another new reality. Without much warning, the price of gasoline had jumped about 20 cents per gallon early last week.

Ol' Morgan had not paid much attention to the price per gallon sign as he went to prepay for his purchase of petrol. It wasn't a big purchase; only $5, just enough to get the trusty Olds to the bank and through a round of errands. At least $5 worth of the good stuff, 93 octane, would normally cover that much ground. But suddenly, here was a rude awakening.

From now until the next leap in pump prices, a new math has kicked in. Five dollars of the week before now would become $7, $10 would become $12, $15 at least $17, and on and on.

After making the adjustment to this level much like a submarine captain ordering his boat to level off at periscope depth, ol' Morgan decided to take a look around. Here's the range of prices he found on the price boards of a few gas stations in the Tri County region; the Exxon and AMOCO stations in Morgantown, $1.59 to $1.79; the SUNOCO station at Turkey Hill Mini Market on Route 23 in Morgantown, $159-$1.79; the Coastal station in Honey Brook, $1.63-$1.81; the Mobil Station in Honey Brook, $1.69-$1.85, and the SUNOCO station near OJR at Routes 23 and 100, $1.69-$1.89.

And the refining companies are happy to report record profits - at our expense, of course.

Somebody said that everything is relative, that these prices, adjusted for inflation, are about $1 cheaper than they were about 10 years ago. That got ol' Morgan to think about the days when, as a young buck he would "borrow' the family car (on the condition that it would be returned with a full tank of gas), pull into the local BP station, and direct the attendant (Yes, self-serve was a phrase yet to be refined), to "fill 'er up with high test.' Trying to maintain his cool, ol' Morgan really thought he was in the driver's seat when the attendant would come up to the driver's side and say, "That'll be five bucks.'

Who could have imagined then anything like the pries that were coming down the pipeline. During the oil embargo of the '70s when gas rationing and long lines at the pump became part of everyday life, requests were made of the nation to stay home on the weekends.

Ol' Morgan can remember doing his part for the cause. One particular Saturday night, while between loves, ol' Morgan decided to scurry up to the neighborhood deli, purchase a six-pack of imported beer, and settle in by the TV in the basement of his ancestral home for a Flyers hockey game. Obviously, a patriotic, yet small, price to pay to conserve fuel.

Seems today to ol' Morgan that similar compromises may be in the offing. Good thing the porch will be done by Memorial Day. Looks like it could get a good workout this summer. Maybe it's time to consider installing solar panels on the roof.

While ol' Morgan was considering other approaches to fuel consumption, news came over the wireless that we Americans each spend an average of 36 hours a year in traffic congestion. That came from a study done by the Texas Transportation Institute, which also found that we burn up to $78 billion in gas and lost productivity in the process. Of American cities, Philadelphia, our neighbor to the east, ranked 35th in traffic congestion.

Hmmm. Wonder how long until the Tri County region gets on the list. There's some fuel for thought.

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