Access To Resources

by Calendar Hacksaw

For people living in Walker Basin and Twin Oaks, "access to resources" is crucial.

Sure, it's only a "short" drive to Lake Isabella, Tehachapi, or Bakersfield. But what if you can't find exactly what you want in any of those three metropolises? Or Los Angeles either, for that matter? Well, it means it's time to get on the telephone.

This is the 1990's, and the telephone is our analog/digital voice and data link to the outside world. Let's take advantage of it. Here are three recent case studies.

I bought an old kerosene heater from some Grandpa who made the mistake of moving from Oklahoma to Buena Park (a mistake which probably brought about an early demise). It's wick (the heater's, not Grandpa's), was pretty well shot, and I was out $35 if I couldn't come up with a replacement.

Well, one lead led to another, and soon I was put in touch with the American Wick Company in Greer, South Carolina. Believe it or not, their toll-free number is (800) USA-WICK. They solved my immediate need in a heartbeat, and it's keeping me warm and toasty as I type this. So keep that number in your book; you're liable to need it sooner or later. Not only do they stock wicks in a variety of shapes and sizes, but other kerosene heater parts as well. They enjoy a challenge.

One of my more enjoyable stories doesn't involve a "source” as much as a "technique." I bought a new, gas-powered tool, which included a recommendation that I put a particular brand of gasoline fuel stabilizer in the tank for storage during the winter months. I couldn't find any of this stabilizer in any of my local haunts, perhaps because I live in the Los Angeles basin, where sub-freezing temperatures Aren't likely to occur until hell freezes over.

But things are different up on "the mountain," where the 6,841' altitude promises ample cold weather, and that's where the tool was to be used and stored. In despair, late one Saturday night, after drinking more beers than the Fence Post has readers, I decided to call the home office of the stabilizer manufacturer, somewhere "back East."

Being a somewhat urbane, sophisticated fellow, and presuming that the stabilizer company was a big outfit, I figured they would have some sort of a modern "automated attendant" on their telephone system, so they wouldn't miss any important calls, like mine. I was right.

"You've reached the Back East Stabilizer Company," the announcement began. "Enter the last name of the person you would like to address.”

Well, I figured a big ol' company like that ought to have someone on staff named "Johnson," so I began entering "J-O-H-N-S-O-N."

No Sooner than I got to the first "N," the automated operator interrupted to say, "John Johnstone, Vice President of Marketing. Press 1 to be connected to Mr. Johnstone’s voice mailbox."

So I did as told, put on my best hillbilly, hayseed voice (we're allowed to do that now under the Americans with Disabilities Act), and left Mr. Johnstone with this long-winded dialogue about how bow hard it is to find his product Out West, and how all our gasoline is going to pot for lack of stabilizer and such.

Sure enough, come Monday morning Mr. Johnstone was on the phone to me, and two complimentary cans of his excellent stuff were in the mail. And all I wanted to do was find someplace where I could buy it!

Now, finally, we come to the wood stove. Mine is an "Onward No. 5”, manufactured by the Fuller Warren Company, Troy, New York, in 1865. It's a tiny little devil, kind of a kindling stove, but uses 4 small isinglass, or mica, for its windows. Tried buying isinglass lately? It's a challenge.

Isinglass is a mineral; a slender slab of rock. It seems to be like a precious metal, in that it's price fluctuates. One woman told me it's peeled oft the walls of an old cave in India, and its price depends on how much the workers want to work and whether or not they've found a productive vein. In any event, when I first priced it two years ago, the going rate was $20 for a piece measuring 4-inches by 5-inches. And I needed four of them. That's $80 for a stove I bought for $75 off a South American missionary, who probably reads this newspaper and laughs at me.

But guess what? I called again this past month, and the $20 price tag had been reduced to $5 per sheet, very affordable. So the wood stove is back in business, thanks to Stove Parts Unlimited of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Their toll-free number is (800) 874-0791.

Believe me, folks; if you're living in Walker Basin or Twin Oaks, your telephone should be your best friend. Learn to use it, and that next UPS or Fed Ex delivery could be for you!

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <> and <> and he'd love to hear from you.

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