By Jack Hackley
Ironworkers on construction crews fall into three different groups. One group puts the reinforcing in concrete. Another group puts the structural steel in commercial buildings and bridges. And yet another group specializes in miscellaneous iron, which consists of handrails and stairs.
Structural steel men don’t like to tie reinforcing bars and a lot of rebar ironworkers won’t work in the air hanging steel.
I worked for a general contractor and did all three. Two of the best ironworkers to ever work out of Local #10 in Kansas City were William Grote, Jr. and his brother Alvin from Oak Grove. They were structural ironworkers and even worked in a riveting gang before they had high tensile steel bolts.
One Friday evening, we were putting rebar in a new bridge and sent our favorite laborer by the name of Smitty in the company truck to pick up the payroll checks.
While he was gone, Roy McCoy, the ironworker foreman, had the crane operator pick up a huge chunk of concrete that came out of a bridge abutment we were replacing and put it in the trunk of Smitty’s old Buick. It didn’t have a latch, so he wired the trunk lid shut.
After work, the ironworkers, along with Smitty, drank beer until almost dark. Smitty couldn’t figure out why his headlights were shining up in the trees on his way home.
One thing Smitty liked to do better than drink beer was fish. When he found out who was responsible for the concrete in his trunk, he skillfully inserted a three-pound carp he had caught into the seat cushions of Roy’s new Ford pick-up truck.
After three days, Roy had the cleanest pick-up on the job. He hosed out the inside of the cab and the motor trying to get rid of the odor. He even took it back to the Ford dealer.
One good thing about it, Roy did save the money it would have cost for the extra gasoline to operate his air-conditioner because he drove around all summer with his window down.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or jack...@aol.com. www.jackremembers.com