Reed tackles task with skill

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2001

NATCHEZ – The telltale clinking sound of wrenches and other tools came from beneath the 1991 Ford Explorer, as Louis Reed worked to fix the clutch.

&uot;It’s been cutting up now for about a month,&uot; he said, stopping to take a break from his Sunday afternoon task.

The Dart found Reed at the Jeffersonian Apartments on Buddy Bennett Road.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;And I can’t afford to take it to the shop,&uot; he said. &uot;It’d cost hundreds of dollars for the parts, and then there’s the labor. So I’m doing it myself.&uot;

Not a problem, perhaps, for a veteran mechanic like Reed. &uot;Mechanic work – heavy equipment and things like that – is all I’ve ever done,&uot; he said. Reed tosses terms like &uot;crossover exhaust&uot; around like he has done for most of his life and handles the parts themselves with relative ease.

The only wrinkle is that Reed does the work without the aid of his legs; he lost his legs several years ago to vascular problems.

But he does not let that deter him from what needs to be done. He used his arms to maneuver around under the SUV. He made his way around to the other side of the vehicle, then went inside the SUV for a mechanic’s manual.

Much of the time, he uses a wheelchair and a makeshift cart he made himself to get around pretty handily.

Of his disability, he simply says, &uot;I’m not going to let that stop me.&uot;

Not that he will not accept help when it is offered. His wife’s daughter’s boyfriend said he would come by later Sunday to assist with the project Reed started Saturday morning.

&uot;There’s so much stuff you’ve got to take out (of the vehicle) before you do this,&uot; he said, shaking his head and looking at parts he had already removed.

But if he did not arrive Sunday, Reed’s plans would not change. &uot;I’m out here until it gets too cold or it starts raining,&uot; he said with a chuckle.

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map and finds a story where it lands.