Unveiling: ‘Monkey Gouger’ travel center
Jimmy Ardis, among several other drivers and owner-operators, was a recipient of one of the inaugural Citizen Driver Awards from TravelCenters of America. What you see above is one of the results — a renaming of one of TA Petro’s stops around the country after Ardis (regular readers of course may well know him better by his CB handle and longtime nickname, Monkey Gouger).He sent the above shot after his first visit home to Rimini/Pinewood, S.C., since MATS, where he accepted the award. Monday night on his way in he dialed the Manning, S.C. TA location to tell them he was on his way to the house and would stop in at some point over the next several days. As he tells what happened next, “The manager said, ‘I think you need to come by here soon, because we’ve got a surprise for you.’ I went and got Debbie [Ardis' wife] and we went down there.”
It’s something to see his name up on the building, he says. The location, off I-95 at South Carolina 261, or the Paxville Highway, was formerly Jerry’s Truck Stop, whose owner was a personal friend of Ardis who’d helped him out when he was getting started as an owner-operator. After his passing several years back, TA took over operation of the stop, Ardis says.The owner-operator’s history there extends all the way back into his childhood. Ardis well recalls when “we would sit on the side of the interstate when trucks were coming up the ramp” on long-ago afternoons, he says. “We’d sit there and make them blow their horns.”
May 10 is the official dedication day for the Jimmy Ardis Travel Center. Congrats, Monkey Gouger. Well-deserved.