Another Rock Blasting Story

During the first 15 years of my contracting career most trenches in rock were blasted, before good productive and dependable rock trenchers were developed. We had one crew that their primary job was drilling and shooting (term we used for blasting) rock. We were building a new subdivision right behind the Bannockburn Baptist Church, before it was built, on Brodie at McCarty Lane in southwest Austin. All was going real good on that project. Don the crew foreman and our ace blaster was short handed, so he hired an old hippie that happened by. The old hippie’s only job was … Continue reading Another Rock Blasting Story

Making A Case For Eavesdropping

It happened on the steps on the church house. Several of us were lingering outside the building after church one day. As I spoke with one elderly gentleman, two of our other members where close by having a conversation about a potential land dispute, with one of these fellows being an attorney and the other one owning a parcel of land. It seemed that the landowner was having difficulties with TxDot over what was a very tiny parcel of land. Several years before TxDot was expanding one of their highways and through right of eminent domain had taken this man’s … Continue reading Making A Case For Eavesdropping

Hall Level and D&H Foundry

When I was growing up around the Austin Area, in the 50s and 60s, there were two businesses in the vicinity of 3rd and Comal. As far as I know they were sister companies, owned by the Halloway Family. One was Hall Level and Manufacturing. The other was D&H Foundry. Hall Level produced several types of carpentry and industrial levels. The one I am most familiar with was their aluminum torpedo level. Hall Torpedo Level D and H Foundry produced the aluminum cast part and Hall Level made the glass bubble portion and did the finishing to make them the … Continue reading Hall Level and D&H Foundry

I Could Never Pass Up Tools Laying In The Road

It always amazed me how often I used to find tools, like wrenches, hammers, screw drivers and the like laying on the road when I was traveling from place to place. I always accused my careless mechanic Paul of being the one that lost most of them. Almost any day I could drive out of the yard and find something Paul had left laying under the hood or on the bumper that would fall off. Of course he wasn’t too worried about it as long as I had charge accounts at all the parts houses in Austin. Paul’s carelessness fed … Continue reading I Could Never Pass Up Tools Laying In The Road

Tumbleweed Hill

Kenny had only been out of the Army for a short time. He was working for the company. I had a 1976 Chevy 4 Wheel Drive Pickup that I handed down to him. We had a project installing a new waterline that extended from near Mesa Dr, along Far West Blvd. The line would end near FM 2222 and Bull Creek Rd. This was Kenny’s project to oversee. We were for the first time living a role reversal, where I was his boss. I made an early morning drive by to check the progress and didn’t see Kenny anywhere, even … Continue reading Tumbleweed Hill

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

I had a new Cat 385 that was delivered probably in 2003 or 2004. I ordered it equipped with a mass excavation boom and a short stick. I knew it would limit our ability to go very deep, but most of the jobs we were bidding on were hard rock jobs. When I compared the different stick and boom configurations, the breakout force of the one I ordered was almost double of a long stick machine. If we were going to be successful digging hard rock we need the most force that we could get at the teeth. The machine … Continue reading You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

The VW Bus Was Parked In A Bad Spot

I wasn’t long out of school, probably had just turned 18. One of my first jobs was driving a haul truck for Nelson Lewis, a cousin in the utility business. He had just landed a project in downtown Austin, laying a wastewater line up West Ave. It started down at 7th St and would continue up to about the 24th block on Rio Grande St. Right up in the middle of the University of Texas Campus. The first piece of equipment I hauled to the job was an old White-Oliver Rubber Tired Backhoe. It was a beast, 4 wheel drive … Continue reading The VW Bus Was Parked In A Bad Spot

Harold wasn’t known as a man with a stellar reputation

Sometime in the later 1970s Harold showed up in Austin as an underground utility contractor. There have been a bunch of them that have come and gone in Austin over the past almost 50 years that I’ve been around. But none like Harold, that would cause you to feel like you needed a bath, from just having a conversation with him. Okay that last sentence is a little bit of a lie. There have been several others that gave me that feeling. Harold had a gift of gab and you knew he was a bullshit artist the second he started … Continue reading Harold wasn’t known as a man with a stellar reputation

A Sudden Stop

Back in the 70s and early 80s, after Kenny returned from his stint in the Army, he came to work with us. Most of the crazier things that ever happened was during that time period. It was customary that he and I would load up every few days and ride the jobs. We often had eight or ten projects going on, all over the Austin area. One day we met up out on the north end of town and he climbed in with me. I had a new 1980 Buick Riveria. We were driving through a project, The Cliffs Over … Continue reading A Sudden Stop