Back in 1996 or early '97 I had bought a few items from a dealer in Texas. I got a call from him one night. He had a chance to buy a Sinclair Mobiline 5 gallon easy pour can. This was back before all the books had been written about petroliana. It was before ebay was going strong too. We had never heard of Sinclair Mobiline. The dealer described the can and shot me a price. I agreed to buy it for Jeff. I just had to wait for a shipping quote from the dealer. Days turned into weeks and the dealer didn't call back. After several attempts I finally talked to him. He said he decided not to sell the can. Jeff was pretty bummed out about it.
After Jeff finished his freshman year he started working with me. While we sat in the truck and ate lunch on his first day on the job I asked if he was going to buy a globe with the money he was going to earn that summer. "Nope. I'm going to buy a Sinclair Mobiline 5 gallon easy pour can" he replied matter of factly. Keep in mind we had never seen one. I thought wow, that's gonna be tough. A few days later Jeff was in the hospital fighting for his life after a swimming accident. He fought a good fight but finally passed away after five days.
Through the struggles of dealing with his passing, I never forgot about that can.
Nearly a year later I found myself driving to an auction several hours away. There were four globes there. During the long drive I found myself thinking about things. Jeff of course. But I was also thinking about how I never traveled that far for an auction. I never took off work to attend an auction. I thought about going back home. I knew I'd be late for Darrel's baseball game that night. I pushed on towards the auction even though I had second thoughts about it. When I arrived at the auction I immediately got my bid card. I had called the auctioneer about the globes before I made the trip. The clerk was expecting me and told me the auctioneer had given me wrong info about one of the globes. I headed out to see the globes. I was really disgusted when I saw them. The auctioneer had messed up the descriptions of all four globes! What's worse is I already had those globes. I was standing there thinking how I just drove many hours for nothing. I took off a day of work for nothing. I wasn't a happy camper! I was ready to head for home. Then I turned and looked outside. There it was! A hundred or more feet away sat a Sinclair Mobiline 5 gallon easy pour can on a hay rack. I wasn't going anywhere until I bought that can! The auctioneer jumped all over the place. He'd sell right up to that rack then go somewhere else to sell. It was a huge auction with two rings most of the day. After 6 1/2 hours they finally got to the can. You see, the next day would have been Jeff's 16th birthday. In less than a minute the can was in my hands, and I was looking at the sky telling Jeff happy birthday.
Since that time I've seen several cans like it in much better condition. Some day I might even buy a better one. One thing's for sure. I'll never get rid of that can!
My good friend Steve Proffitt wrote about Jeff and this can in Antique Week in October of 1998.