It was a one of those nice days in Chillicothe's past when all of a sudden our phone rang; it was the Chillicothe police and fire department. They said that our area had an emergency and needed our help fast.
Dad wasn't home at the time so I said sure; I'll be right there with our septic tank cleaning truck.
They had told me on the phone they needed me to pump up spilled gasoline off water and I told them I had never done that before; but I would try.
By the time I got to David Rupp's service station, there were local police cars, state highway patrol cars, and fire trucks everywhere. The whole south end of Chillicothe smelled like gas. You may recall that Rupp's flew that gigantic American flag in those days.
If I remember right someone ran over a gas pump. I have forgotten how many gallons of gasooline spilled that day, but it was so much that they had to build a dam in the drainage ditch between the old and new US highway 36 to keep it from going to the Grand River!
The police blocked off all the highways and roads in all directions and evacuated people from nearby buildings for fear of an explosion and fire. My job was to go down into the ditch between the highways and pump out the gas into our truck's tank.
As I was doing this, I looked around and I saw that everyone in that very busy end of town had pulled well back and left me to do my thing. I was all alone!
Back then I used the vacuum off the truck motor, so as I pumped up the gas the motor would race really fast. I didn't have to use the throttle to speed it up because our truck was running on the gas fumes I was pumping!
I had already pumped out three loads and hauled them to the land fill when my dad showed up. He was in a frenzy. He told me to stop pumping right now and leave.
He said that all it would take was one spark to set all this gas ablaze. He said if he had been home when they called, we would not have taken this job. I was actually finishing up when he arrived, so I still got my pay.
At the time, I didn't know how much danger I was in, but I guess everyone else did. A little excitement in life is always good as long as you survive to tell the story. Should someone else have had to tell my story, now that would have been a bummer!
I am including a little history of the Rupp's Station flag pole (from a recent C-T article):
The 90-foot flag pole at Simpson Park came down Wednesday afternoon, to make room for the new Chilli Bay Water Park. Because of safety concerns, it is unknown whether this pole will be relocated.
Chillicothe City Council members, however, have voiced support that flags be displayed somewhere in the park to honor veterans.
The city's park board will be tasked with identifying possible sites. Jim's Welding, of Chillicothe, which took down the pole Wednesday, had relocated the pole to the park in 1987, moving it from David Rupp's gas station in south Chillicothe.
At the time of its initial installation in 1976, the pole measured over 103 feet tall and was believed to have been the tallest in Missouri. On holidays, a giant American flag, measuring 20 feet by 30 feet, was flown. The pole was relocated in 1987 due to a Walmart expansion.