Machinery By The Pound

Back when I was a kid, the old times would often reference how much various machines cost by weight. They would say things like “that excavator weighs about 40,000 pounds and costs $40,000” or “that bulldozer weighs 60,000 pounds and costs $60,000 “. This was a way of quickly estimating the cost of equipment based on its weight. This may not seem like a very sophisticated was to do things, but considering there weren’t computers in those days and many of the men in the business had limited education, a lot of simply ways were developed to relate to various … Continue reading Machinery By The Pound

The Odyssey

I have a friend, I’ll call him Jack. We had been doing the same type of construction for many years. He had worked for a couple of my competitors, but each were friendly competitors, so we have been in various joint venture arraignments throughout the years. Somewhere along the way, due to a divorce or perhaps it was the cause of the divorce, Jack developed a serious cocaine habit. He came to me in the need of employment. His habit had caused him to be let go from his last job. Not realizing that cocaine addiction couldn’t be cured with … Continue reading The Odyssey

The Unfortunate Incident With The Motorola Radio’s

Things are so different today than when I first got into the business some 50+ years ago. When people were out on a jobsite and you needed to tell them something, you drove out and delivered a message in person. Austin was a much smaller then, but a message could be delayed several hours at times. I think we had better planning skills then or our expectations for getting much done was a lot less. Somewhere along the way voice pagers came into vogue. But when you were out on a job with machinery running, if you heard the thing … Continue reading The Unfortunate Incident With The Motorola Radio’s

Austin Radio People & My Friend Sonny

Bob Cole and Sammy Allred where the duo that probably stayed together the longest, at least to my memory. Of course there was Jim W W Travis at KVET for a long time. Tom Allen was a fixture. There were many that came through there over the years. Jerry Gee. Penny Reeves. Arlie Duff was at KOKE and moved to KVET for a while before he retired or moved on. The list is pretty long. A lessor known and remembered DJ at KVET was Sonny Butler. He was a night man a lot of the time and filled in in … Continue reading Austin Radio People & My Friend Sonny

Dink Wrote Me A Check

George Lester McDuff was a fiery little fellow. Everyone called him Dink and he always had a story to tell. He had the ability to make me laugh no matter what the occasion. He could make anyone laugh. I first met Dink in 1963, when I was just a kid. He and my dad worked for the same utility construction company. Dink ranch the roadboring division. Roadboring is where a hole is drilled under a roadway or railroad track and then pipe is installed. It was dirty work with mud knee deep and oil and grease everywhere. But everyday Dink … Continue reading Dink Wrote Me A Check

The Rio Motel and Club – Austin, Texas.

I knew about The Rio because in the mid 1970s several of us that were working on the I-35 expansion from Airport Blvd up to US 290. We used to go there and drink coffee and eat breakfast or lunch sometimes. I was surprised when I opened the Austin Statesman newspaper one day to find out that The Rio had become really famous in the history of Austin. There was a club there also, but I never remember going to it. But there were several notable Austin people found it to be a great meeting place. There was a well … Continue reading The Rio Motel and Club – Austin, Texas.

Ain’t No Need To Talk Down To Me !

Back around 45 years ago I had a project in Austin and was waiting for John Harlan and his boys to finish another road bore (that’s the process of drilling a hole underneath a highway to installed a pipe so you don’t impede traffic) then come to mine. I was driving down Ben White Blvd and looked over and spotted John standing there beside the highway so I turned around and went back to check with him about when he’d be to my job. It was a very customary to do. Everyone wasn’t walking around with a cell phone in … Continue reading Ain’t No Need To Talk Down To Me !

Kenny And The White Bronco

I have to admit that in my younger years I spoiled myself with buying vehicles. I was doing a lot of driving, bidding on work all around the state. When I say a lot of driving, somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 miles per year. I had a new Buick Rivera that I considered my road car. And it did handle the road very well. We had a project in Kendall County, just north of San Antonio building the Guadalupe River State Park, which was a undeveloped tract of ranch land when we started, so I couldn’t see driving that nice … Continue reading Kenny And The White Bronco

Bar Ditches

Bar Ditch is what we commonly refer to as the ditch along side of driveways, roads and highways. Like so many other things in our Texas Speak, Bar Ditch is a shortened version of Borrow Ditch. So called because when building the roadbed, dirt is taken or borrowed from the sides of the road and brought to the middle to build up the roadway. This provides positive drainage so the rain runoff can be directed natural drainage ways. Streets with curbs don’t have bar ditches because drainage is achieved with inlets, flumes and networks of underground piping to direct runoff … Continue reading Bar Ditches

Impersonating Kenny

For years Kenny and I sounded amazingly alike on the phone. We both have what I guess is a distinct Smithwick accent. I’m doubtful that Kenny ever took advantage of that. My wife admits to getting us confused a few times. Maybe they can tell us if any of those conversations ever went hay-wire.If they did, I never heard about it. On the other hand, I can’t tell you how much confusion I caused by letting different ones think they were talking to Kenny when I was the one they were actually talking to. Our Grannie Ruby was easy. All … Continue reading Impersonating Kenny