Weatherford Democrat

March 9, 2014

NOW HEAR THIS: Put a muffler on it


Weatherford Democrat

— By LARRY M. JONES



I suppose I live a somewhat pampered life down on the “pore farm” – far away from the noise, traffic and hustle and bustle of urban life. For me it is a wonderful thing and a blessing to savor.

On a warm summer evening, I love the chirping sounds of crickets, the wail of coyotes in the distance and the call of the whippoorwill or great horned owl.

For many Americans, this luxury is not possible. A vast majority of our population live in large urban environs where roaring 18 wheelers, sirens of emergency vehicles, the roar of normal congested traffic and a beehive of activity by others in the neighborhood drown out the subtle sounds of nature.

As I greedily partake of life as a country gentleman, I see this lifestyle becoming threatened more and more. Far too often these days I am shaken from my serenity by the passing of a large diesel pickup with a straight pipe exhaust system, a cool biker-dude on a chopped Harley with straight chrome exhaust pipes, or a two-stroke dirt bike wound tighter than an eight-day clock ridden by a teenager in search of an emergency room visit. 

Why is such unpleasant and irritating behavior tolerated in today’s society? Fifty years ago, loud mufflers or straight pipe exhaust systems would get you a ticket. I haven’t heard of such a thing happening in decades. However, I know of several old geezers who have been cited for not wearing a seat belt while quietly driving 10 mph under the speed limit.

I recognize that it is human nature for young testosterone laden males to seek to defy authority and press the limits on appropriate behavior. This is nothing new. I was no different when I was that age. I remember how we boys longed to have loud mufflers, preferably glass packs, on our cars. A common thing was to squirt water up the tailpipe into the muffler in hopes that it would rot out its insides.  Straight exhaust pipes were illegal, but really cool guys had “lake pipes” that routed the exhaust gas straight out of the manifolds. Of course, they could be capped to comply with the law. 

A few years ago a neighbor of mine who operated a steel fabrication business bought some new diesel company pickups. The first thing he did was to cut off the mufflers and weld in a straight pipe for increased performance. Is there no law against this? Muffler and exhaust/tail pipe technology has been improved exponentially in recent years. I haven’t had to replace any part of an exhaust system on my car or pickup since the 1970s, and it’s a miracle that muffler shops are able to stay in business. I suppose diversifying into brakes, shocks and other automotive accessories has allowed them to exist, along with modifying state of the art efficient muffler systems into something only a male teenager or 20-something could appreciate.

I admit to being a card carrying member of the grumpy old man club, but I suppose that comes with the turf. Since I have idiosyncrasies and infirmities of old age, I just wish my hearing had diminished instead of my eyesight.

Then I wouldn’t have to listen to all the noisy trucks and motorcycles roaring past my house.  

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to nowhearthis@pwhome.com.