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Life & Times - Page 87
Popular Science Monthly - July 1955 p87
Scan of original article (pdf format)
The Life and Times of Gus Wilson
(continued from page 86)
forever. There may have been a phone and a wrecker, but they are not mentioned for a year or two.
Gus was noticeably grumpy in those days, sometimes almost tactless. "Drat it" and "durn it" were his favorite remarks. He had a marked tendency to lecture. Once Al Taylor came to grief on Smoke Hill-a "cork puller" of a road outside town. "No need to go into the details, Mr. Taylor, I can see how you got into trouble," interrupted Gus. "You got rattled and couldn't get the gearshift to work, and while you were fussing with it, the car started rolling backward - and here you are!"
But Gus's customers weren't touchy. "Oh, don't rub it in," said Taylor. "I'm a muttonhead all right." Such humility evidently warmed Gus, for he unleashed several columns of instruction on shifting, topped off with details on "how to do the double clutch." But he wasn't as genial as in years to come, though, since he concluded testily: "Drat it, Joe, why is it that every bird who scrapes through the driver's examination decides that he is the real thing? It would be better if he would spend a lot of time on lonely roads practicing gear shifting . . ."
Gus's family. Sometimes there are scraps of personal information. Gus like rabbit hunting but knows little of fishing until Joe introduces him to the art (in contrast to later years, when Gus has grown almost to be fishing bore). We learn that he is a bachelor with some rustic relatives ("my cousins from up Winchester way"), a married sister and a nephew named Henry. The latter, a sober young man with a bride named Grace, persuades Uncle Gus to accompany them to a 1926 auto show to help the young couple pick out their first car. For guidance Uncle Gus advises: "If you can only have one car the best buy is a closed model. I'd recommend a coach. You get a lot more for your money than you do in a sedan. Roadsters are all right for rich people who can afford to keep more than one car. "If you'll take my advice, you'll lay off any car that is painted in very light colors. Dust and the tar they put on the roads will make one of those pale pink babies look like the dickens in short order."
Though oracular as always, Gus touches all bases when Henry asks: "What's the dope on overhead valves, Uncle? Are they really much better?"
"Theoretically they are-all the racing cars use them. But in a car for ordinary use I can't see there's much advantage. They may result in a slight saving of gasoline as compared with the ordinary valves that are place in a pocket beside the cylinder head. Also with overhead valves you can take the cylinder head off and remove it to a warm place in the cellar when you want to grind the valves instead of working in a cold garage. On the other hand overhead valves...continued on next page