“Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past …”

Boating - - FEATURES - By Charles Plueddeman

The strong case for rocket science

You know, some days I re­ally miss car­bu­re­tors.” It was an odd open­ing line by my good friend Chuck Lar­son, who had as­cended a stool at the Lake View Inn and scat­tered a bag of pret­zels on the blue Formica bar top.

“Well, some days I miss my sec­ond wife, but I gen­er­ally keep it to my­self,” I replied as Wally the bar­tender de­liv­ered Chuck’s beer.

“I’m se­ri­ous,” said Chuck. “The world is just too damn com­pli­cated. It used to be if my out­board wouldn’t run, I could pull off the cowl and fix it in the drive­way. Now I take it to the shop, and the first thing Dan does is plug his lap­top into the mo­tor. I used to get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion from fix­ing my own stuff. And what was wrong with car­bu­re­tors any­way?”

Chuck took a gulp from his glass. “This is all due to the govern­ment!”

Dis­cus­sion of pol­i­tics above the county level is gen­er­ally for­bid­den at the Lake View, but Wally de­manded elab­o­ra­tion.

“So the govern­ment banned car­bu­re­tors?”

“In a round­about way,” said Chuck. “Be­cause we have to meet fuel econ­omy and have sweet-smelling ex­haust. So now we’ve got out­boards with fuel in­jec­tion and a com­puter that could guide a space­craft to the moon, and my tools are gath­er­ing dust.”

Chuck slipped off his stool. He preaches bet­ter on his feet.

“It’s the heavy hand of the EPA, and thank good­ness the new man in Wash­ing­ton is go­ing to nip that bunch in the bud.”

For a mo­ment Bob Uecker’s ra­dio call of the Brew­ers game was the only sound in the Lake View. Then a voice from the end of the bar shat­tered the awk­ward si­lence.

“Hey Chuck! As long as we’re bring­ing back car­bu­re­tors, how about DDT? Best in­sec­ti­cide ever!” That started the ridicule.

“Yeah! Hey Chuck, you know what I miss? Lead paint.”

“How about po­lio? Do you miss that, Chuck? What a great dis­ease.”

“Hell, let’s bring back Tricky Dick Nixon, since you’re so nos­tal­gic …”

“No, wait … the EPA was Nixon’s idea! And Chuck hates the EPA. Har, har, har.”

It was up to Wally to stop this.

“So Chuck, I’m sure you re­call Camp Shag­i­nappi. And do you re­mem­ber why they closed the camp down?”

Camp Shag was across Lake Win­nebago. The Scouts had to close it in the 1960s when the lake got too pol­luted for wa­ter­sports. When we were kids, there were sto­ries of float­ing, ah, sewage, in the swim area.

“En­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion cleaned up the lake, which is now a wall­eye fac­tory. And Chuck, you catch more than your share. With­out the EPA, this bar might be called the Turd View Inn. So if you want to fix some­thing, start with your mem­ory.”

With­out skip­ping a beat, Wally turned to me.

“I miss your sec­ond wife too.”

“The world is just too damn com­pli­cated. It used to be if my out­board wouldn’t run, I could pull off the cowl and fix it in the drive­way.”

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