I just heard that Gene has died. I am not sure that Gene is even a real person. I just got a message that the greatest dirt man and reverse gear driver had died.
Way back a bunch of us would get together and tell all sorts of tales. It was just the regular old gathering of guys talking about cars, work, girls etc. (Good old fun with the good old boys) One of the guys was a talking machine. He and his dirt had a dirt business. They had a dump truck and a backhoe. Mostly it was the guy’s dad that did all the work. Our buddy would tell about all the work they did in the dirt business. The talk was really about all the work his dad did. He was a good storyteller. We loved hearing tales of the dirt business and especially his take on making cars run faster.
The stories we heard about making the cars run faster was mostly bull. Of course our storytelling friend was a master craftsman. “You get more torque by using the 3/2 differential rear end with the total reversing needle nosed monkey reducing clutch.” Better yet we got into the greatest dirt man and his stories making cars go faster.
Gene was a dirt man that had a special talent. He could actually dig dirt and he knew how the phases of the moon made dirt digging harder or easier depending on the phase of the moon. He never said what phase made dirt digging easier or harder but he still claimed he knew what to do. His best dirt story was the due to the fact he could burn one tire and keep a pile of trees, brush, trash or anything else burning all day. The pile of debris could burn all day and when finished there would be nothing left but a clear bit of ground. He was the greatest dirt man ever.
The burning tire was part of the story that led to the greatest dirt man mystique. You are not supposed to burn tires. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Environmental Control frown on tire burning. Gene could start a tire burning and cover it with brush, debris or whatever and keep it burning all day. You couldn’t even tell that a tire was in the pile. This fire would burn through rain, mist, snow or a hurricane. He had almost magical power.
Better than all the power over dirt and debris was his power over automobiles. He had a special power over a Ford car that he drove. All the special things that make a car go faster were done to his car. Not only would his car run fast, he could drive it fast. He supposedly lived somewhere between Summerville and North Charleston. I never knew where exactly. He could drive faster than anyone in the world. We heard tales of driving between odd places. He once drove from Darlington to North Charleston in 48 minutes. Vance to Summerville including a pass through Main St. Holly Hill was another quick trip. All these trips were incredibly fast and impossible. Still they were good stories.
The best story was the reverse gear story. Gene was speeding home on a Saturday morning. He had been visiting a girlfriend in some out of the way place in S.C. Naturally, his Ford was going flat out when he rounded a curve in the road. In front of him was a truck pulled across the road. How would he stop? He was going fast and the road was wet.
Only one thing left to do. He put the car in reverse, popped the clutch and stepped on the gas. Tires started spinning, smoke was spewing, the engine, tires and everything else sounded like a thousand banshees screaming for a mercy that will not come. He stopped the car before wrecking and still made it to work on time.
We loved that story. We never got tired of hearing it and he could keep telling it better each time we gathered.
Well, our storytelling friend died about ten years ago. Now I’ve gotten this news that Gene has died. I still don’t believe that Gene was ever a real person. Several of us got together to tell the stories of the fast Ford and the super reverse gear that prevented the greatest wreck in South Carolina history that didn’t happen.
We are making plans to get together and try to make a record for driving from Darlington to North Charleston. If that doesn’t work we’ll try to make it to Summerville.