SHORTAGES: A Time of Learning to Live with Less

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Christmas Dimout. The requested ban on outdoor illumination will crimp the plans of many communities and businesses to put up dazzling Christmas displays. Even before the President's call for a blackout, Detroit Mayor Roman S. Gribbs had ordered a "dimout" of Christmas lighting, and has been severely criticized for it. Groused Councilman David Eberhard: "This town needs some joy. If we turn off the color, the sparkle, the life, then we're a dead city." To conserve electricity, the small town of Jefferson, Iowa, stilled the carillon bells that pealed hymns and patriotic music.

Said Walt Stidwell, one of the county supervisors: "For seven years we heard it every day and then we shut it off. You realize there's something missing, something strange."

Nothing, though, brought the message home for most Americans as did President Nixon's earlier call to voluntarily cut back auto speeds to 50 m.p.h. That was a wrench to a nation as devoted as the U.S. is to horsepower and highway. Compliance has been spotty.

In Oklahoma, hundreds of citizens have telephoned on Governor David Hall's hot line to complain that they were trying to hold at 50 m.p.h., but nobody else was. On a 120-mile trip along the New York Thruway, one driver cut his speed to the state's new limit of 50—and counted 138 cars racing past him. (But the driver improved his mileage in his BMW from 20 to 25 miles per gallon.) In Washington, one of the few Western states that has imposed a new legal limit, Anthony Stokes, a Seattle builder, chased down a speeding state patrol car and demanded that the offending patrolman give himself a ticket. (He did not, but he was officially reprimanded by his chief.) In Massachusetts, a woman who was ticketed for going 48 m.p.h. in a 35-m.p.h. zone had a ready excuse: "The Governor said that we should be doing 50 now."

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, travelers often found gas stations closed. Some that were open raised prices. On the Black Horse Pike between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, a Shell station owner was retailing premium for 86.7¢ per gal. Presumably, some thought was given to all of this over the afternoon turkeys; on Thanksgiving night and Friday, drivers noted widespread obedience of new legal limits. Many people just kept off the highways altogether. Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, had to get "every available coach" out of mothballs to meet an unexpected flood of business.

Thriftiest Speed. Officers of bus lines have been claiming that their maximum efficient speed, below which they will use more gasoline per mile, is 60 to 65. Truckers say that their thriftiest speed is just under 60. Democratic Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana has been lobbying for an amendment to the Energy Emergency Bill that would exempt buses and trucks from the new limits. The Interstate Commerce Commission proposes to ease its "gateway" restrictions, which until now have often forced trucks to take circuitous routes instead of direct ones between some cities. Other truckers, though, will be hurt by the loosening of gateway rules, which are intended to prevent excessive competition on certain routes.

The restrictions on speed and the scarcity of gasoline will also hurt operators of ski resorts, many of which can be reached only by cars or a few buses.

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