My Father's "B" Stick

Congress passed a law mandating a national speed limit of 35 miles per hour, and the whole country slowed down to a crawl.  To be sure, some people broke the law, but many more obeyed it—or came close to obeying it.  Every so often when we felt like supporting the war effort—and had nothing better to do—several of the neighborhood boys would grab pencil and paper and march down to the corner of Orange Avenue and Bahia Vista.  There we would wait until a speeding car came around the corner and would yell out “35 miles per hour!”  Sometimes we would write down their license numbers.  We never did anything with the lists we compiled; and, as far as I know, no one enforced the speed limit.  Drivers were on the honor system in a time when America still believed in honor.

My father—who was a dentist—had a “B” sticker on his windshield, which meant he could buy slightly more gasoline than people with “A” stickers, because he drove to his office at night to care for patients in need of emergency treatment.  This happened more frequently than you would think.  He would pull a tooth and give the patient precise instructions in case the socket started to bleed.  “Reach in there.  Pull out the clot.  Then bite down on a piece of gauze.  The bleeding will stop.”


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