Byron Spires

I remember the first flat tire I had. It was on my first car, a 1958 English Ford.

Back in those days, you tried to get as many miles out of a tire as you could, especially if you were struggling financially, which I was at the time. I had noticed that one of my tires was getting a little “tread bare.” In other words, it was as slick as a bald man’s head.

Honestly, I should have known better than to depend on that tire; however, at the time, I didn’t have the $15 to buy a new one. So, I pressed my luck and drove on that old slick “Baldie.”

My luck ran out one rainy winter night. Of course, it was cold and damp night on a back-country dirt road when it finally decided to stop holding air.

Thankfully, I wasn’t going very fast when it blew — actually it was more like exploded off the rim.

The spare was just about as bad as the tire that blew, with the exception that it still held air. There was no choice, but to get out in the rain and put the spare on. The jack was one of those screw types that fit into a hole on the bottom of the car.

Here I am on a dirt road in the dark with it raining, trying to match up the little sticking out protrusion on the jack with a corresponding hole on the bottom of the car. Did I say I had no flashlight? Well, I didn’t.

By the time I got that tire off and the spare on, I had been in the rain for almost an hour.

From that experience and to this day, I never drive on a bald tire or leave in a vehicle without a flashlight.

The first time I ran out of gas was in that same car. Somehow, I managed to hit something that put a tiny hole in the gas tank. The gas gauge worked about half the time. However, I knew about how far I could go on a tank of gas.

The old car was not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination with a top speed of about 60 mph down a long hill with a strong tail wind.

So here I am cruising along at maybe 50 mph and the car just quits.

I coasted to the side of the road, got out then popped the hood.

There didn’t appear to be anything wrong. Then I got a whiff of gas. After a few minutes I figured out where it was coming from; climbing under the back of the car, I found the small hole in the tank.

As luck would have it, somebody I knew drove by and saw me. They took me to get some gas and you will not believe how I stopped that leak, at least until I got home.

I was told to rub a bar of soap over the hole and it would temporarily stop it from leaking.

It works by the way.

So, again I have a rule for myself: Never let the gas gauge get much below a quarter of a tank. And, believe it or not, I have a half-used bar of soap in a plastic Ziploc bag under the back seat.

To be on the safe side, I always have a roll of duct tape, but that is another story.

Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell: Part I,” in a series of three books. Byron has been involved with local theatre having done over 50 musicals, a dozen stage plays and wrote and directed an original play “Splintered Judgement.” He is available for speaking engagements. You can contact him at

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