But stay with me here; to really get a full appreciation and context for things about Geh, you have to get the long version of where it all came from. Geh was an interesting enough character to deserve it.
Gene Geh was a Fish Camp neighbor, a retired transplant to the Keys who was originally from New York. His house was a few blocks down U.S. 1 on Harborview Drive. He was an old cut-up buddy with Tavernier Mayor and Monroe County Commissioner Harry Harris, so one day an official Monroe County street sign showed up at the end of Capt. Geh's driveway marking the intersection of "Broadway" and "42nd Street". That's how you could always find his place. That sign, along with one of the San Jose's cannons in his front yard.
To simply say that Gene was crafty is gross understatement and doesn't do him justice. He was more "Rube Goldberg" than Rube Goldberg was, at least to the extent he built things like real Rube Goldberg machines (more later). I don't know how he and Mr. Mahan first met, but it is easy to imagine Gene noticing all the commotion of the Boy's Camp and dropping by to investigate. I'm sure the two of them hit it off straight away: good stories; big undertakings; dream chasing; problem solving; sunken treasure, etc.
Geh became Fish Camp's best friend. He had license to drop in anytime and fuss at anybody about anything. He designed and supervised the building of the dock, the teak dive platform on "The Mighty Hunter," some of the "infrastructure" on Tavernier Key, and a lot of other things I've forgotten. When we were weathered in he would tell stories after dinner about treasure hunting with Tom Gurr and the salvage of the wreck of the Spanish galleon San Jose.
I don't know if this is one of the higher order machines or not. Anyway.
His 18' runabout outboard boat (one of the original Woodsons) was one of his more highly developed Rube Goldberg machines. As he had grown older, he needed more mechanical things to assist his running around on the water: pull a line and the anchor deployed off of a bow roller; lift up a hatch on the floorboards and behold a glass bottom window, probably an inch thick, that he had fabricated into the bottom of the hull. He spent hours drifting over the reefs with an enormous magnet on a winch. He would watch it through the glass bottom window of the boat and winch it up or down so as to keep it right off the bottom. Whenever the magnet came close to something large and ferrous (which to the eye might appear as some formless lump of coral,) the magnet would start to wobble and sway. If the object was large enough, it would practically anchor the boat. For him it was more fun than fishing.
His house and back yard were full of fascinating clutter from the reefs: antique fishing reels, anchors and chains (including a long section from the wreck of the USS Alligator, for which Alligator Reef is named,) canon balls, etc.
The Workshop -- WYBMADIITU
The detached garage behind Geh's house was full of strange tools that needed explanations. ("This holds steel plate together at any angle while you weld it. See?") He had a lathe with which he could fabricate stainless steel bolts of any length, dimension, or thread size. And up on one of the rafters was a piece of drift wood with exotic styled lettering that simply said: "WYBMADIITU."
It didn't matter how many times you asked him what it meant, he would only answer with a question, without looking up or pausing from whatever he was doing: "Will you buy me a drink if I tell you?" "Sure Capt. Geh, but I'm only sixteen. So what does it mean? Did this wash up in the mangroves somewhere?" Geh: "Will you buy me a drink if I tell you?" "Yes, maybe you didn't hear me. I already said yes. So what does it mean?" This would go on forever until there was either self-enlightenment or the curious one became frustrated and gave up. Those in the latter category failed the test.
Geh often needed a brawny helper for projects in the workshop. He soon realized he needed something to keep the young "brawn" distracted and entertained for those periods when he was performing some intermediate step requiring his undisturbed concentration. His solution was devilish, and classically Geh.
The Bimini Ring Toss Game
The components: 1) a metal ring, about 2 or 2-1/4 inches in diameter (they sell these in marine catalogs under sailboat rigging gear); 2) thin braided fishing line (or any thin string that is not stiff and will twist easily); 3) a common household coat hook; and 4) a small eye-hook.
The coat hook is set on a wall about at the height of your chin. The eye hook goes in a rafter overhead and straight out from the coat hook on the wall. The metal ring is suspended from the eye-hook by the string so that when the ring is caught on the coat hook, there is no slack in the string.
Double the horizontal distance between the coat hook and the location of the eye hook, away from and at a right angle to the wall. Paint the silhouette of two feet on the floor facing the wall. Now you're set to play.
Geh removes the ring from where it's hanging on the hook and invites you to stand with your feet on top of the painted footprints. "See if you can let the ring swing up and be snagged by the coat hook."
This should be easy.
Players quickly advance to the level of "being close." Release the ring too low and it swings back without ever coming close to the coat hook. Release the ring too high and it bangs into the wall (or the front of the coat hook) and bounces off. Soon you learn to stand the same way, holding back the ring with your open palm in a position that looks like you are about to slap yourself in the forehead (which at this point you are thinking of doing.) You let your palm touch your chin in the same place every time as an aimpoint. You begin to consistently hear a ping when the ring taps the coat hook. But mysteriously, it never hooks onto it.
Eventually the player figures out that the ring will never catch on the coat hook, puts the ring back up, and resumes the distraction of Geh from his work. ("Hey Capt. Geh, what's this? Ooops. Didn't meant to drop that.") Geh finds a convenient stopping point, walks over to the painted footprints and releases the ring twenty times in a row. Every time it snags cleanly on the coat hook without swinging back.
"How do you do that? Wait, there's a trick. A magnet."
"No gimmicks. You just have to think about it some more. Then practice what you think about."
The Secret of the Bimini Ring Toss Game - Revealed!
The key to the Bimini Ring Toss Game is to consider the final moment when the ring is snagged by the coat hook, and what is happening at that instant. Success involves control of the rate at which the ring is spinning as it swings up and approaches to the coathook. When the ring is at its apogee of swing, it must approach nearly perpendicular to the wall, so that it slides up closely alongside the coat hook without hitting it, and then rotates in behind the hook as the ring hangs at the top of the swing nearly at a standstill.
In addition to: 1) the correct height of release (about the same height of the hook), 2) the aimpoint of the swing, you must add: 3) the speed at which you rotate your wrist during the release to impart just the right amount of spin to the ring as it swings.
OK, so go practice that.
Tom Gurr and the salvage of the San Jose, or,
One man's tin is another man's treasure.
The last little footnote of history that I know Capt. Geh was involved with came from his friendship with Tom Gurr. Gurr belonged to the last group of real-deal treasure salvors that books are written about. Gurr, along with the likes of Art Mckee, Mel Fisher, and others, was in the serious business of finding the hoardes of emeralds, gold and silver spread out behind the reefs between Tavernier Creek and Long Key, where most of the 1733 Spanish treasure fleet went ashore in a hurricane, shortly after leaving Havana bound for Spain. Gurr discovered one of these wrecks - the San Jose de las Animas - just inside of Little Conch Reef, and early Fish Campers helped raise some of its cannon.