A Warm and Toasty White Elephant
The White Elephant in question, of course is Sarge's white, 1974 Ford Econoline E-200 Van. The problem was how to make an enemic heater and a 30 year old fan heat the inside of a cavenous van big enough to be used for a sports car garage.
Sarge bought lots of gimmicks and toys that perported to do just that. Little heaters that plugged into the cigarette lighter and were mounted on the dash. They were suppose to direct warm air at the windshield and keep it defrosted and the rest of the vehicle toasty warm. In normal climates they might have worked. But that year Colorado was experiencing record cold temperatures and frost an inch thick was not uncommon on the windshield in the morning. As if the frozen windshield wasn't bad enough, a frozen Sarge wasn't much better. There were so many air leaks in that old Ford van that the neighbor's cat used to live in the back seat. Birds would fly through as you were driving. You get the picture.
But Sarge being a stalwart hunter and outdoorsman just shrugged it off and put on more layers of clothes. Finally even best of us wear down and Sarge cast about for a better way to heat the van. His eye fell on a kerosene heater that Lt. Linda bought to warm up the utility room. "GAZOOKS!" he shouted, "That is the answer!"
So that night, before rolling into his double size Army cot, he set the heater in the van, lit the wick, made sure the tank was full and retired with a smile of happiness on his craggy face.
The next morning he hurried out to his nice warm white elephant and excitedly rolled back the door expecting a rush of warm air. COUGH, HACK, CHOKE, SNEEZE, what he got was a billowing cloud of black smoke that enveloped him and settled in every pore and seam of his skin and clothes. Somehow during the night the flame went out, not completely but just down to smokey smoldering and the resulting black smoke permeated every nook and cranny of the interior of the truck.
Looking at the clock ticking off the time that he should be on the highway, Sarge grabbed a towel and scrubbed off enough smoke and ash to make a carbon fiber set of a dozen arrows, including a small hole in the black coating on the windshield for seeing his way on the road. He then hopped in the White Elephant and sped off to work.
He barely made it in time and hung his coat in the coat room and headed for his office. Oblivious of the trail of odorous fumes coming from his clothes. There seemed to be some virus going around the office as many people were coughing, hacking, and sneezing. Working diligently away as usual, Sarge happen to look up to see a large mob of co-workers clustered around his office door.
"YA, IT'S HIM!" yelled one of the men.
"GET HIM OUT OF HERE!" others chimed in.
Shouts of "LYNCH HIM!", "FIRE HIM!" "CALL THE POLICE!" Rang in the air.
Finally cooler heads prevailed and Sarge was given a day off to go home and clean up.
It took two weeks of scrubbing to get every little hard to reach spot back to it's original white color. (we are talking about the Van here not Sarge) .
Still on a warm summer day the odor of kerosene will waft from the driveway. Which means it is either coming from the White Elephant or the neighbor cat.
"Dang, it sure sounded like a good idea at the time," said Sarge
Sarge the inventive one.