Sunday, October 6, 2013

Paying My Respects

  It has been one week and three days since my last post so I am getting a little better towards my goal of one post a week, and I regret that I must start this one off on a sad note. Three days after my last post I got the news that Gene Petit had passed away. I knew Gene as Gene Lewis, who I met early on after I got involved in the promotion here in Mississippi. Some of you may remember him as Cousin Luke, The Mongol, or another name depending on the area you lived and which territory matches you watched. Gene was wrestling as the brother of Dale Lewis when we were booking talent through Leroy McGuirk and Bill Watts and after we broke away and formed our own AWA group Gene was living in Jackson, Ms. and came to work for us in many capacities. Also his wife at the time, Addie, had been working with us for quite awhile before we went on our own so the connection was really close. Gene would either wrestle, referee, or even he and Addie would help set up and run "spot shows" or when we were running two towns a night at times.
In my last post I mentioned that I was going to try and talk to a couple of guys that I had not spoken to in awhile and let you know how they were doing. Gene was one of those guys. I did not make that call soon enough. Sure wish I had. The last time I talked to Gene was when he was on Johnny Mantell's Blog talk radio show Mantell's Corral and I called in. The three of us had a nice long talk and a few laughs about our memories and experiences here in Mississippi. I think that has been a little over a year ago but I remember when we were signing off Gene saying "Gil, it was great talking to you and a big surprise. You made my day and we need to exchange phone numbers so we can chat some more". We agreed to do that but unfortunately the next "chat" never happened. I could actually feel the pain in his voice. Gene had suffered with M.S. for quite a long time but I could also tell a difference in his voice, one of happiness and joy when talking about those memories. I am sad along with many others for the loss but at the same time, I am truly happy for Gene that his pain has ended and he is now enjoying his ultimate reward. My thoughts and prayers are with his children, family and many, many friends.
  On a brighter note, I did talk to two dear friends of mine in the last few days that you all should be familiar with and  can report that they are both doing great! Pork Chops Cash and Izzy Slapawitz! We have all kept in touch over the years but it had been awhile since I had talked to them. Well, Chops said he is feeling great, no aches or pains, and when I told Izzy what Chops said his response was "He's a damn liar"! Typical Izzy! We all had a few laughs. I will have to tell y'all sometime about the match that Chops had with AWA Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkle in Jackson, Mississippi that went "Over an Hour" (Gene was actually the referee in that match), the reason why, and some of the antics of Izzy! Great memories! I have one more person I have tried to get in touch with and will sure do it in the next few days. Have tried twice with no luck but will do for sure and give you a report on how they are doing next time. I do know Chops and Izzy have spoken with him recently and give positive reports. One thing I did after our phone conversations was to make a note in my address book of the date we last talked talked so that I can flip through it at times and see just how long it has been. That way if I see it has been awhile and I haven't heard from them I'll pick up the phone and call!
  If you were fortunate enough to have been involved with professional wrestling during the territory days as I was then you will know exactly what I mean when I say that it was truly a Brotherhood unlike any other I know of and it was a time when really great friendships were made that are never broken, even if you haven't spoken to someone in awhile, when you do, the connection is always there. If you were not, I don't believe there is any possible way I could explain it to you, so I will just try and share my thoughts and experiences with you. Keep in touch with your friends. Don't find yourself saying "I should have called sooner and had that chat", You may just make someone's day and bring a smile to their face.... and Yours! Till next time my friends!

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