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

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 (it wasn’t there then) on Brodie at McCarty Ln. in the Southwest part of Austin, Texas. 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 … Continue reading Another Rock Blasting Story

An Unfortunate Incident While Blasting Rock

Back in 1975 we were putting in wastewater lines to serve newly incorporated areas of Austin that had previously been on septic tanks. This was up in the area around North Lamar between Rutland Dr. & Braker Ln. One of the lines followed a creek that crosses Sagebrush Ln. about a block west of N. Lamar. Just before it reached the next street which was Neans Dr., it came up out of the creek and headed out into the streets as it continued on south. This meant it ran in an easement between two houses. It was a very narrow … Continue reading An Unfortunate Incident While Blasting Rock

They Made The Mayor Cry

A long time ago I had a contract with the small city of Sunset Valley, a suburb on the southwest edge of Austin. The contract was to rebuild a crumbling street. When we finished, a condition of getting paid was I had to go to the City Council Meeting where the payment would be approved and they would write me a check right there on the spot. What I didn’t realize was there was a new mayor, a lady, and a couple of new male councilman. I sat through the entire meeting, with the approval of my payment coming at … Continue reading They Made The Mayor Cry

The Machine That Developed A Mind Of Its Own

Back in 1973, we were doing a project out in the Northwest Hills Area of Austin. We had just acquired a new C14 Hein Werner Excavator, much like the one below. To make it travel the 2 shorter levers (with the black grips) in the picture below would be pushed forward or back depending on the direction you wanted to travel. Of course only pushing or pulling one lever would cause the machine to turn. If you were traveling for a far distance they could be snapped in, so you didn’t have to hold them. At the end of the … Continue reading The Machine That Developed A Mind Of Its Own

The Motorcycle Cop

I was just a kid, maybe 17 years old. Nelson Lewis had a big Cadillac Sedan and wanted me to take it and drop it off in downtown Austin for him. I was barreling up Trinity Street, a few blocks east of Congress Avenue. Just as I approached 3rd street, there was a motorcycle cop turning from 3rd and was going to head north on Trinity, the same way I was going. I saw him keep edging out in the intersection, like he expected me to stop and let him go ahead of me. I didn’t see any flashing lights, … Continue reading The Motorcycle Cop