Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resume - Part 2

So, when last we met, Rich was eighteen and tired. Now, of course, he's older and perhaps even a bit more tired.
If that isn't a complete synopsis, I'm sorry, you'll have to read the previous entry Resume - Part 1. See how clever the whole naming thing is working out? For those of you who were eighteen once, it may come as no surprise to you that my solution to this difficult circumstance was to run away. How's that for integrity and grit? As it happened, my friend Bob Deeter (who was in a very similar situation to my own) and I were driving down 27th. Avenue near the college when he suddenly said, "We should just go ahead and join the Navy."

It had never entered my mind to join the Navy, if I was going into any service, it would have been the Air Force. After all, I did spend a few years in the Civil Air Patrol where I had risen to the rank of First Sergeant and I loved to fly. But I could never be a pilot, <heavy sigh> because my eyes were no good and that kind of put a damper on the whole thing. But I had learned how to march and picked up some tips on leadership and learned how to calculate load factors on aircraft. And a couple of the guys in the squadron were the ones I worked with laying that industrial tile I spoke of earlier (see how all this ties all together?). And at that point I had no idea how many other people in my family had been in the Navy, Uncles and Cousins and Step-Grandfathers, oh, my. My father never spoke about his family, or else I wasn't listening, which is another really strong possibility. I found out about these Navy connections after I started delving into genealogy.

So, having nothing better to do, we joined the Navy. I know, you can almost hear the Village People in your head, can't you? "In the Navy!" But there was no such song when I joined, but there was the Vietnam War and chances were pretty high that we would go there. But this was June and we delayed entry until September so we could have the summer. Vietnam could wait. Bob's dad used his connections to get us jobs at Carlson Construction as laborers. I did spend some time working with carpenters which qualifies as 101 Intro to Carpentry, but most of the time we did demolition. And what a great time we had busting stuff up!

Most of the other laborers were middle-aged black guys who had been doing this stuff for twenty years and knew full well that what didn't get done today would be waiting for us tomorrow. But here come these two puppies bouncing around, "Hey, come on, let's wreck some more stuff!" They adopted us and tried their best not to get us killed. One particular job was EXCELLENT. We were contracted to replace the ceilings in an elementary school with new dropped ceilings.
And that's where we came in because we had to remove the forty year old plaster and lath ceilings. The guys were using axes and pipes to break up the old ceiling and then sweep up the pieces. Man, that forty-year old dust was something to behold. So, Bob and I looked at the situation and knew right away we shouldn't push up, but should pull down. So we had the shop make us some sky hooks - a long pipe with a 90 degree angle at the end that we could poke up through the old ceiling. Ours had another piece supporting the angle so it wouldn't bend. Of course, you had to be careful not to hit the ceiling support beam when you pushing the pipe up with all your might because then you had to stand there for a while until your body stopped vibrating the way Bugs Bunny did when he ran into a street lamp. There was a down side, of course, because you were pulling all this stuff right down on top of yourself, but that's what hard hats are for, plus the fact that the work was getting done five times faster.

But I noticed that not only was the plaster strengthened with horse hair, the lath was attached to the beams with wire and not nails. You can almost guess what I did next. I crawled up into the space between the ceiling and the roof, cut the wires and pushed the lath DOWN, much easier and the pieces were bigger. Yeah, this was Miami in the summer, so it was 130 degrees up there, but youth and stupidity are a great combination. But even that wasn't enough. On this one long hallway, I went up and cut ALL the wires and then stomped down on one end and the whole ceiling peeled off like a banana peel
and came down in one piece. What fun! As it happened, our supervisor heard the whoomp! (so did people for blocks around) and came to find me jumping down after doing a weeks work in two hours. He gave me a ten cent an hour raise. But this was 1966 and that was a lot!

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