Hey Lady

An essay is due tonight for a course in rhetoric at Franklin and Marshall College.  However, country quiet  gives way to a quaking  house.  Rushing to the door nearest the front field, I encountered two Electric Company Rigs veering across the front lawn– lumbering toward the tilting electric pole by the grove of trees.

Actually,  the new object of my attention is providing the theme for my essay.  Overcoming my natural apprehension,  I run out the door and shout, “Hey Fellows!  I’d like to write about what you are doing here today.  May I watch?  Broad smiles meet my remark.  “Sure sweetheart but wait till I get my hat.” I watch as he winks at his buddies and with great flair, tips his yellow hard hat and bows with Edwardian grace.  “Are you gonna take pictures, Mam? Another deep voice yells from the truck, “Hey lady, you gonna put us in the paper?”  Raucous laughter ensues.

King Edward of the deep bow, is swinging into the cab of the truck.  The other two men are securing a cable which is also tied to the pole on the ground.  The rig pulls the pole as if it were a tooth pick.  I yell, ” Mister, how much does that pole weigh”?   Shouting he cries, “Geezs, Harry, she wants to know how much the pole weighs.”   They are in a huddle now and looking sheepishly over their shoulder. “Ah, that pole weighs 1500 pounds.” Well….that’s what he said.

They now have the pole in close proximity to the old one which will be coming down.  As they shout commands to each other they are lowering four balancing legs from the bottom of the truck.  There is an enormous drill hanging from the boom on the top of the truck.  The drill which must be at least two feet in diameter, is being positioned.  There it goes boring into the earth and the roar is deafening.  Each man is exhibiting singular concentration to his end of the operation.  Oh no! the rig is tipping.  The  earth has given way under one of the rigger feet and the truck is sinking deep into the ground on the one side.  It’s all right now.  The truck is stabilized. Boy, can they cuss.

Oh, dear, Harry is running toward me.  “Hey lady,  what are you writing now?”  I say, “Harry don’t worry;  I just wrote that the rigger foot penetrated one of the numerous sink-holes in this area.”  He seems satisfied.  It is obvious that they are in a dilemma since the auger is plunged into the ground and the truck is quite tipped.  I know from experience that there is no way of immediately determining the extent of the sink hole.  Edward is operating the hydraulic lift in order to pull the auger out of the ground.  No problem.  He is now swinging the boom and drill about to the opposite side of the truck.  Lou, found a loose tree stump near by, which he is dropping into the depressed earth in hopes that it will provide the out-rigger. the needed balance.

Hard work.  They are now reestablishing the rigger foot right on top of the log filled gap.  Mission accomplished.  Back roars the giant auger toward its original objective.  The auger is churning into the black earth.  I hear them say that they must sink the pole six feet since it is a forty foot pole.  Meanwhile with released tension the workmen tell stories about former encounters with far greater hazards.  I hear the laughter, cursing and ‘can you top this’ type stories, and I am quietly endorsing these brave men.  Endorsement gives way to fascination as the drill pulls the first rich black top soil to the surface, then the reddish frown dirt and finally the clumps of moist red clay.  The men proceed with routine dispatch.  The boom is being swung around again so that a long cable can be attached to the new pole on the ground still poised on the ground.  A cable from the boom is tied to the middle of the pole. The center of gravity is found and now the pole is lifted and maneuvered quite easily.  The pole is suspended and the men are wrapping and tying large squares of thick rubber padding around the end.  I ask, “Why are you doing that?”  Lou bends down so that he can peer straight into my eyes and says,  “Lady, don’t you know them are hot lines up there?  We sure don’t want to bump um particularly with a pole that is not insulated.  We’ve got seventy-two hundred bolts up there.”  I breath a weak, Oh!

Edward, engineers the boom so that the pole is lifted to a vertical position and with the aid of Harry and Lou, the giant pole is sunk and twisted into the six foot cavity.  At the top of the boom there is a brace that looks like ice tongs that gives some guidance to the pole while the other men shovel and pound the dirt back around the pole.  Harry slips a plum-bob out of his pocket and determines that the new pole is as straight as it should be. Now the new yellow pine creosoted pole, which should last for sixty years, towers over the smaller grey zinc coated one of thirty years.  I see the men are packing up to leave. I ask, “Aren’t you going to switch the lines to the new pole?”  “No sweetheart, we quit at three-thirty.  You sharpen your pencil and we’ll be back tomorrow.”  There they go down the long lane in front of a cloud of country dust, waving their yellow hard hats.

It’s quiet again as I sit alone in the middle of the field on my  stool.  This essay endeavor has left me with some interesting impressions.  When the job was dull and routine the dialogue among the men was homespun–of wife and kids or TV.  When danger was immediate, there was casual cursing and floating phrases of-this is nothing-we’ve seen worse. After danger had passed there was boisterous laughter and acceptable vain posturing  and the ‘killed the tiger demeanor.”

Never again will I flick a switch without my mind traveling along the wire to the memory of the effort it took to sink just one pole for just on home.

Well. here you have it. One happening on one day and one essay for one professor as I cobbled credits along the way.  This was November, 1975 at our beloved farmhouse.  There were many stories before and many stories  after. Next time, I’ll start at the beginning of our restoration of a deserted farmhouse that mom, dad, and seven children pitched-in “to make it happen.”

just another moss2wood


~ by mosswood on April 12, 2012.

4 Responses to “Hey Lady”

  1. Can’t wait for more stories of the farmhouse!!!!

  2. Fabulous story. Had me hooked from the time you pulled out the stool. And the note at the end about the year the story took place is brilliant. Can’t wait for more.

  3. Pleased to hear that.

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