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Spark Plug Treasure

When I was about 13, I got to digging around in the loft of an old, falling down neighbor's barn (being careful to get his permission before removing any "junk"). The place was a kid's gold mine - old truck and car parts saved by the neighbor's deceased brother from his days as a mechanic - about 1915 to 1940.  

My favorite loot from the place was a collection of early spark plugs that I picked out from small boxes and mud-dauber nests on the floor. Some had big brass bottoms. Others had brightly colored top porcelain. After almost forty years I remember a neat purple one in particular. Learned a lot there, too, from the neighbor, who knew what everything was. The funny Y-shaped (still shining like new) pieces that looked like a tire stem extension on one end and had a squared porcelain V with tiny holes on the other turned out to be the business end of acetylene headlights. Of course, I got the full story on how that gas was generated by the cars that used them as well. Over time, I carefully squirrelled away a real treasure - the 15 or so best looking plugs - in a drawer in my room, and they remained there when I joined the Air Force.  

Unfortunately, my mother did not know a wondrous, rare spark plug from a piece of junk in a less-than-neat kid's leavings, and she had over four years to clean up behind me while I was off in sunny Florida tending Uncle's KC-135s. The plugs are likely resting entombed at the bottom of a sinkhole long since filled in to plant houses. Darned if I don't still miss those plugs - haven't seen any better since. They had real character.  


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