Octane and Missionaries

One of the problems our overseas extended “family” had while in-Country, was dealing with a culture of people who were not well-versed in the production of high-octane comestibles. That inexperience with Western Culture’s vices meant that primitive production methods could veer-off horribly wrong, with the difference between methanol and ethanol meaning being drunk or dead.
In our particular back-woods locality in “Appalachia-India,” we also had among the highest population-percentage of Aboriginal peoples. The folks were mostly non-Caste and lived in the jungle, spoke a language all of their own other than Bengali or Hindi, and practiced very different life-ways than the local standard “Hindu-ized” Indians in the villages. Their appetite for jungle-juice combined with distillery-inexperience meant that entire wedding parties were sometimes found out in the woods dead, the lucky survivors only blinded. With no kind of social or Governmental safety-net whatsoever, blind people simply add to the beggar population.
What all this get’s around-to is another facet of Missionary work: Western Technology and Manufacturing. The original predecessor to our family’s job, was an earlier family that established the big house and was a few “generations” removed from us, who in-fact became the first Ford dealer in West Bengal under “the Raj” and prior to India’s Independence. After raising a family of seven (with five survivors) they ultimately left the Mission Compound, and in their unique capacity drove-off cross-country and back to The West via Tashkent in an early Ford touring car. Somewhere there is a book with some very exciting stories of their travels.
At any rate when we were there our Mission Vehicle was an old (1957?) Willy’s Wagon, into which we all piled whenever we had somewhere to go that the Train couldn’t take us – which was a lot of places. I remember Dad almost always had to lift the folding hood and smack the carburetor a few times with a heavy screwdriver before the engine would maintain a running pace.
Lousy low octane and horribly expensive fuel by Govt. ration, meant that we didn’t often just hop in the buggy and hit the road. Also the roads were 90% un-paved, so the 4×4 was useful in a pinch.
One of the Mission Stories often heard around the campfires was about, “Those old Fords” that would run on just about anything, and any mix of anything – enough to drive over to the beach 9-miles away. My recollection from somewhere deep and hidden in the recesses of my mind is of a conversation about how Henry Ford originally (pre-Prohibition and pre Gasoline-reliability) had designed the vehicles to run on whatever a farmer could rake-up and mix-up in a barn-still, from hay-field clippings and vegetable rubbish. Not something you would ever mistake for a beverage, but the ATF and Prohibition put an end to that practice…

About NotClauswitz

The semi-sprawling adventures of a culturally hegemonic former flat-lander and anti-idiotarian individualist, fleeing the toxic cultural smug emitted by self-satisfied lotus-eating low-land Tesla-driving floppy-hat wearing lizadroid-Leftbat Califorganic eco-tofuistas ~

2 thoughts on “Octane and Missionaries

    • All kinds of weird history in Missionaryland – untold stories and off-the-grid escapades in forgotten places, now forgotten in time. From the Japanese Army to Mau-Mau’s in Africa. Some friends of my parents escaped the advancing Red Chinese Army by crossing the border only minutes ahead of the ChiComs.


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