His name was Roger, but he called himself Bucky. Big Bob and I met him for the first time at the Mr. Montachusett Contest at Turners Hall in Fitchburg Ma. in May of '73. Bob and I had been sitting there minding our own business when from out of nowhere this guy in a white trench coat, white painter's pants, and penny loafers with white tube socks, ran up and sat down beside us with his mouth buzzing like a chain saw.
"Hiya, Jim! Hiya, Bob! Hey......you guys enterin' the contest?"
My first impression had him as either a hospital orderly or mental health worker because of his all white attire. Then, eyeing us carefully, the stranger went on.
"Lookin' pretty cut, Jim......put some size on since the last contest, huh. Bob.....your arms have gotta be at least 18 inches.....Jeez, I wish mine were that big!"
Bucky went on to recite the litany of arm exercises he'd been following, and somehow or other wove in personal details of every guy in the New England area who had been even remotely connected with the weights......height, weight, measurements, the works. Next thing Bob and I knew, he had left as quickly as he'd come.
"Hey, Bob..... who was that guy?"
"I dunno," Bob told me, "I thought you knew him.....How does he know us?"
It wasn't long before Bob and I became better acquainted with Bucky. With his short, wavy red hair, and cleanly shaven face, Bucky resembled a bulked up version of Bob Montana's Archie Andrews. According to what Bucky told us, he had owned and operated a submarine sandwich shop in East Manchester for a few years, but had disliked having to deal with the public and recently sold off the business.
Without a job, he was living with his mother and had converted his garage to a fully stocked, industrial grade gym. International IFBB judge, muscle control artist, and fitness equipment manufacturer Ed Jubinville was a personal friend of his and had sold him all of his gym equipment at a great discount. Ed had invented a new line of equipment to supposedly rival Nautilus. Scorpio Machines, according to Ed Jubinville,
Would be the next quantum leap in strength training. Regardless, it was junk, but Bucky would buy anything that Jubinville recommended.
At this time Bucky was training for power lifting and bodybuilding contests. He briefly held the N.H. 198lb Class record in the squat, and was spending all day in his garage gym following an extremely high volume program. He swore to us that he had a direct pipeline to Ed Jubinville, and that it was Ed who had passed along the secrets of world class bodybuilders such as Arnold and Mike Katz.
In our society a man tends to be defined by what he does for a living. True, while leisure may be the basis of culture and civilization, too much leisure time can lead a man in directions far removed either civility or productivity. For starters, Bucky had a problem with his father. Bob and I never learned the particulars, but Bucky's parents had divorced years ago.
His father had been a prominent local prize fighter in the 1940s, having boxed under the ring name Tommy 'Red' Wells. As was common in boxing at that time, Red Wells had spent a little too much time in the ring and was somewhat punch drunk. He lived in The Chase Building on Elm Street where he worked as the apartment superintendent. From time to time we would see him doing road work along Elm Street and hitting the heavy bag and speed bag at the 'Y'.Too many shots to the head or not, for a guy in his late fifties, Red Wells was still good with his fists and tough.
We thought it rather odd that Bucky had a phone installed in his garage. We learned that he would call his father between sets......all day long and into the night. These were truly classic phone calls and I regret not having recorded them for posterity. Try to picture The Jerky Boys on amphetamines and you have the scenario.
Typically Bucky would have a alarm clock in hand when he called his father. "Ding!" Bucky would tweak the alarm when his father answered. Then he would launch himself into a monologue as if he were Howard Cosell announcing an Ali-Frazier boxing title fight.
"And it's Round One!" Bucky would drone on into the phone as his father went berserk on the other end of the line.
"MEET ME!" his father would shout back.
"The challenger comes out of his corner bobbing and weaving......"
"MEET ME!" we could hear the old man screaming.
"and unloads a brutal combination on the champ......"
"knocking him flat onto the mat......."
"And Canvasback Wells is out for the ten count, ladies and gentlemen! What an upset!"
"Who is this?" the old man would demand to know.
"This is The Turkeyman," Bucky would always tell him, "I'm the guy who's gonna give you the stuffin'! I'll pin your ears back an' use your head for a speed bag! By the time you come to..... your clothes'll be outta style, Canvasback!"
Every morning Bucky would have breakfast with his father at the McDonald's on Elm Street. "I got another call last night from The Turkeyman.....," the old man would explain, going into the sickening details of what he was going to do if and when he ever caught him. This went on for months. But there was method to Bucky's apparent madness. He had experienced some unsavory business dealings with a local tile distributor. Bucky, disguising his voice, telephoned the tile man, impersonated his father, and made an appointment for the following day at noon, claiming that he
wanted an estimate for tiling several bathrooms at The Chase Building.
"Yes," agreed the tile man, "I can come over tomorrow at noon."
Immediately Bucky gave his dad a jingle, going into one of his usual Canvasback Wells ringside commentaries.
"MEET ME!" Shouted Red Wells for the umpteenth time. But this time Bucky identified himself as the tile man and promised to meet him the next day at high noon. The fix was in. Two days later over breakfast at McDonalds, Bucky's father was all smiles as, rubbing his scuffed up knuckles, he related with glee that he'd finally gotten his hands on the notorious Turkeyman.
"Dropped him like a bad habit," explained the old man, "and he went down like a submarine......I still got it!"
Bucky just smiled.
There are a million stories in the world of fitness......This has been one of them.
Copyright © 2006 Jim GanleySend us your comments on this article