Rufus R. Jones
Rufus R. Jones, also known as Freight Train Jones, was one of the biggest headliners to come into the Heart of America. He won not only the admiration of the fans, but also the respect of the other wrestlers by his ring actions and no-nonsense attitude.
Rufus was a fairly straight-laced guy. By that, I mean he didn't like jokes played on him, and I had often seen him poking his finger into somebody's chest, saying, "You better be glad you didn't do that to me, mister."
Some of the guys would grease the door handles on cars, or they would stop on the side of the road and "MOON" the other guys as they come by in their cars, or they would put lipstick on a guy's shorts when he was out in the ring, and he would have to go home bare butted because he didn't want his wife to see the lipstick, or ... you can just imagine whatever we would dream up to do to pass the time away. Most of the time, no harm was meant or done. The guys usually laughed it off and went on to the next challenge of who could outdo whom.
Rufus was a guy you didn't mess with unless he was in a good mood. He was around 6'5" and weighed about 275. He had one of the hardest heads in the business besides Bobo Brazil, and they were tag partners on more than one occasion. Rufus had strength like you couldn't believe. I had seen him pick up two guys at the same time one night, combined weight of about 450 pounds, and drive them into the mat with a body slam. Never seen it done before.
Rufus was a guy who never carried a bag or suitcase into an arena. He would just grab whatever tights and trunks and socks and boots and throw them into a towel and throw them into his trunk of his car, and down the road he went. As he used a towel, he would cast it aside in the trunk for about a week to dry out. He used a towel to not only wash with but also to dry; he learned that trick while in the Orient. It wasn't time consuming using a towel that way, and you made sure you got everything clean and dry on your body using only one towel.
Every week or so, Rufus would clean out his trunk and change gear. He had about 25 different wrestling outfits and was very proud of them. One outfit was given to him by his fan club; it was a beautiful yellow sweater and trunks and socks.
Rufus loved BIG CARS. Chevy Impalas, Buick Electras, Cadillac Sedan DeVilles, Pontiac Grand Prixs, and he traded about every six months or so. He normally put somewhere around 50,000 miles on the car and got rid of it with about 18,000 miles on the odometer (don't know how he did that). He had just gotten a new 1973 Buick 225 Electra about three weeks ago. We were due to go to Wichita, Kansas on Monday. Century II Auditorium was one of the most beautiful arenas I had ever worked in.
Rufus called me and wondered if I would like to ride with him to Wichita, as he was going to make the trip by himself. Riding with opponents was something that was not permitted in our business. I said, "Are you sure?" He replied, "Sure. I have tinted windows on my new car, and nobody will see you ... besides, we park in the basement of Century II, and nobody will see you getting out."
At 3 p.m. in an area not far from the Kansas Turnpike entrance, I met Rufus for the 200-mile trip. There he was, standing next to the beautiful new dark green Buick he had bought just a few weeks ago. "Beautiful car," I said as I threw my bag into the trunk along with the half dozen or so outfits that Rufus had lying on the trunk's floor. As we entered the turnpike, I glanced over at the speedometer, and it was climbing ... 75 ... 80 ... 85 ... and then Rufus hit the cruise control. I said to Rufus, "This car is really loaded, isn't it?" Rufus waved his hands in the air and said, "OH YEAH ... this thing has every option that GM could put on it." Glancing around the interior, I marveled at the improvements that Buick had made in their cars since I had owned one about five years back. I opened the glove box to see the size of it and saw the trunk release button ... hmmmm ... should I?
At roughly 85 miles an hour going down the turnpike in the hammer lane, I asked Rufus, "What is this trunk button?" Rufus hollered, "Don't hit that now" ... Too late ... my finger had hit the button, and the huge trunk lid on the new Buick went up in the air, and all his gear except his boots went flying out onto the turnpike. By the time he had stopped the car, we had gone almost a half-mile, and he was hot. He looked at me with one of those "WHY DID YOU DO THAT" looks. He said, "You big dummy, now I gotta go back and get my stuff." I was trying to hold back the laughter and said, "That trunk thing works pretty good." He was more then upset at me. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from busting out with laughter.
Rufus was about a half hour going back and collecting all his gear when a Kansas State Policeman came up and put his lights on us. Rufus calmly said that his trunk lid came open by accident, and his stuff got drawn out. The cop had tears coming down his face from the way Rufus was describing what had happened but let us go. I was laughing when Rufus got back into the car. He looked at me and said, "I don't think that was so damned FUNNY!" I shook his hand and said I was sorry but couldn't hold back the laughter. Rufus and I laughed about that incident for a long time afterwards.
Rufus Jones (Carey "Buster" Lloyd) has since passed away, but the memories of the good times are still in my thoughts.
Percival A. Friend, Retired
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