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Parish mechanic gets hands dirty for family

FERRIDAY — Even in a down economy, Roosevelt Hawkins of Vidalia still has time to show a little love to his family and friends.

When The Dart landed on Second Street in Ferriday, it found Hawkins lying on a piece of cardboard, elbow deep under Sammy Nolan’s GMC pickup truck, trying to figure out what was wrong with it.

“We’ve been friends for about 10 years,” said Nolan, who also lives in Vidalia. “I met him just hanging out with people.”

Because the friendship between Nolan and Hawkins goes back several years — Nolan is Hawkins brother-in-law — Hawkins gave him the family deal: no charge for the work. Hawkins, who is a self-employed mechanic, said he would have normally charged approximately $200 for this type of work.

“It’s got to be done, and I look out for my family,” Hawkins said. “My family always looks out for me.

“A family that prays together, stays together.”

Nolan said he noticed something was wrong when the engine shut off before he turned it off. So he called up Hawkins for help, and Hawkins brought the truck to Ferriday, where he has a concrete slab he can work on beside his sister’s house.

After about 45 minutes, Hawkins, who has worked on cars for 30 years, discovered that it was the fuel pump. Hawkins said if it were a bigger truck, Nolan would have to spend $1,500 on the part. Luckily, the part for Nolan’s truck was only about $100, which Nolan went down the street to purchase.

“I’ll put that part in when he gets back, he’ll crank it up and be on his business,” Hawkins said. “There ain’t nothing hard about putting a fuel pump on.”

Having Hawkins’ nephew Moecke Hawkins, 23, on hand was another benefit in taking the truck to Second Street, as getting a fuel tank out of a truck is not a light task. Moecke is learning the family trade the same way Hawkins did, from his uncle.

“I’ve been working with my uncle for a couple of years now,” Moecke said. “I like everything about mechanical work.

“We usually rebuild cars and sell them for a profit.”

Hawkins said he and his uncle used to do the same thing.

“We used to build hot rods,” Hawkins said, “me, my uncle and my granddad.”

Hawkins said he started as soon as he could hold and coordinate a pair of pliers.

“I was about 10 or 11,” Hawkins said. “I worked on an old scooter in the front yard.”

And of course Hawkins was able to fix it. Not long after, he was taking things apart to see how they worked.

“I’d take a pair of pliers and some sandpaper and take things apart and put them back together,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he never considered doing anything other than mechanical work.

“It runs in the family,” he said.

Now, he has a better area to work and far more tools, but he still has that youthful confidence.

“I’ll work on anything, I don’t care what is wrong with it,” Hawkins said. “I’ve never found something that I can’t fix.”

Nolan said he was glad he came to his friend with his truck.

“I’m really appreciative that he was able to do this,” Nolan said. “I’ll make it up to him in the future.”

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