Vol. 10


Problem After Problem

1952; Collinsville, Illinois, USA

“It’ll be fine!” Richard said to Jack and Bob.

“But you don’t have a driver’s license!” Jack replied.

“Come on! It’ll be fun!” Richard pleaded.

“But . . .”

“No buts! My parents are only gone for two days. Come on. Let’s go.”

Richard started out toward the garage, where his father’s 1947 Ford woody* station wagon crouched, waiting for a key. He and his friends hopped into the leather front seat. Richard placed his hands on the stitched red leather of the steering wheel. Richard put the shiny silver key in the ignition and listened to the engine roar to life before he gingerly backed out.

The friends rode way out into the country. “See,” Richard said, “I told you it would be fine.” One of Richard’s friends was messing around and accidentally shifted gears. There was a horrible grinding sound. Something was wrong! All they could do was drive in a low gear back to town.

Suddenly Richard realized that his father would notice that a lot of gas had been used over the weekend. “The gas!” he screamed. They stopped to get gas, then chugged home.

"Problem After Problem" - Illustrated by Nasro Abdi: A sad boy adds gas to a vintage car at a pump that shows the price of 59 centsRichard was pulling the car into the garage when Bob pointed out that now there was too much gas in the car! They’d have to siphon off the gas. They pulled the car out of the garage and got to work, collecting the gas in an old bucket. By this time, Richard was wondering what they were going to do with all that gas. They decided that the little fishpond behind the house would be the perfect place. No one would ever know. They didn’t second-guess their plan. They poured the extra gas into the pond. It sat right on top, like a water beetle. They tried to mix it into the water with sticks, but that didn’t work.

Jack suggested, “Why don’t we light it on fire? Then it’ll all go away!” Richard lit a match and threw it into the pond. The gas burst into flames, setting a pine tree ablaze. The boys panicked, screaming and running around in circles like headless chickens. Richard rushed inside and brought out the old fire extinguisher. He managed to put out the fire, but all the branches on one side of the tree were burnt — a new problem.

They found the solution in another tree. They cut off some of its branches and wired them into place on the burnt tree. In the end, they decided it looked great and no one would ever know. They cleaned up the car and put it back into the garage. Richard tried hard to believe that his father would never notice any of what had happened.

Sure enough, on Monday when Richard left school, his father was waiting there for him. He was standing next to the car, his elbow resting on the hood. All Richard remembers is his father’s pointer finger gesturing toward him in a way that could only mean trouble.

Lillian Hayden Ebeling; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: Nasro Abdi; Missouri, USA


* A woody is a car body style in which the passenger area is made of wood.


This copyrighted story and illustration may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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