The photograph in the Jan. 22 edition of the Rome News-Tribune showed Charles J. “Banty” Jones receiving an award for 35 years service with Shell Oil Co. It brought back memories of the past as a young boy growing up in East Rome on Noble Street. Several boys and I had bikes and we had to repair them regularly. The Depression era was coming to an end, but times were still hard and money was hard to come by, yet Banty Jones comes into the picture, but how? Banty ran a Shell oil station on the corner of Maple and East 13th Street, just a few blocks away. Like all gas stations, he sold tires and (inner) tubes and fixed flats.
In those days, car tires and tubes were made with real rubber. So were bicycle tires and tubes. In the days before World War II, inner tubes were made of red rubber from an old tire to insert in a usable tire to cover a small cut or hole.
We were always having punctures and problems with our tires and tubes, so to Banty’s we would go. He was always helpful and kind to us kids. After patching our tubes and putting tubes in our tires, we were ready to go riding again.
We not only went to Banty’s for tire and tube patchin’, we also would ask if he had some discarded inner tubes. “Why?” you say. Well, in those days we had a purpose for them. At that time what we called “rubber guns” were popular. They had a small, gun-shaped wooden handle with an old timey spring clothes pin attached to the handle to hold one end of a rubber band. The old inner tube was cut into pieces ½-inch wide and 12 inches long folded in half and knotted in the middle. The two loose ends were held in the clothes pin while the closed end was stretched tight over the barrel end. Opening the clothes pin let the missile fly. We would choose sides and battle until one side won. Banty supplied us with many pieces of discarded inner tubes.
Thank you, Banty, for the fond memories.