The Pipe Bursting Experiment

Back in the 1980s I was contacted by the owner of an apartment complex over in “Apartment City”, the area along Riverside Drive east of I-35 in Austin. The city was requiring them to upsize the wastewater, as it wasn’t adequately handling the amount of flows that the apartment was generating. Evidently a few years before, when the project was built there had been a sizing miscalculation. With it being a nice property with beautifully landscaped yards they wanted the disruption to be held to a minimum. I made some phone calls and found a company in Louisiana that was … Continue reading The Pipe Bursting Experiment

It’s Strange The Things We Remember

It’s been almost 45 years ago that I walked into G & L Stationeers on South Congress. The year was 1977. They were in a building just north of where the Night Hawk Restaurant was at So. Congress & Riverside Drive in Austin. I had decided it was time to put a distinctive mark on my company. They had a graphics designer that worked with me to make a company Logo. I still remember his name, Duane Kelly. In just a few minutes he was putting the finishing touches on the big LC that would grace our new sign out … Continue reading It’s Strange The Things We Remember

The Difficulties Growing Up A Black Kid In Today’s World

As hard as it is growing up in this world for teens now, it has to be so much harder for black youth, especially in any of the large urban areas. I often think back to a half dozen black kids I befriended in the Oak Cliff in the late 1980s while doing a job there. I’ve written before about them; Freddy, Herman, Terry and the others names escape me just now. I would load them up in my suburban, after checking with their mother, grandmother or other guardian, (always a female – never remember even one of them having … Continue reading The Difficulties Growing Up A Black Kid In Today’s World

My Friend And Mentor Dave

I first got to know Dave in 1972. He was a successful underground utility contractor and very well respected in the business. His office was located in Lubbock. Dave was my mentor, someone I could learn from. I figured if I watch him and handle my business like he did, I surely be successful. My first subcontract was working for him installing water lines in Burnet, Texas. It was actually more complicated than that. I was a sub to another sub that subcontracted to Dave’s company. That happens in our business a lot. Ok if you aren’t too confused I’ll … Continue reading My Friend And Mentor Dave

From Smudge Pots to Blinking Barricade Warning Lights

We were talking about smudge pots a while back. It got me to thinking about these old things and how when I was a kid in the 50s and 60s I would go with my dad out on jobs, many times at night. I would go stand next to one of the diesel burning things on a cold night, to stay warm. In typical kid fashion I wasn’t afraid of getting dirty, so the black smoke and soot would be all over me, but it made me feel like a “working man”. This is my recollection of how we started … Continue reading From Smudge Pots to Blinking Barricade Warning Lights

The Lost Fuel Truck

We were down in Houston working many years ago. I had a cousin, Butch Martin working with us. He had an old friend from Austin that was needing a job, so we found a place to fit Wilber in. He was an equipment operator and he also served as our fuel truck driver, which was just a part time gig. Butch and Wilber each had a bit of a drinking problem, and always found a joint to call home everywhere they went. One Monday morning when we showed up for work and Wilber was missing in action. We didn’t think … Continue reading The Lost Fuel Truck

The Martin’s, Father and Son Roadhands

Uncle Bob Martin worked for me a couple of times in the 70s. He was slow and steady but was accomplishing something with every motion. He was my maternal grandmother, Nancy’s brother. Uncle Bob’s oldest son Butch Martin worked for me several times. We was opposite of his Dad. He was fast and all over everything, but man could he move dirt. You just always knew it wouldn’t last long, before he’d twist off and not show up. Each time I’d swear that was the last. But he had an uncanny way of arriving when you most needed someone in … Continue reading The Martin’s, Father and Son Roadhands

The Unfortunate Incident With The Motorola Radio’s

Things are so different today than when I first got into the business some 49 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

Mrs. Lily Mae Little

Back in 76 we were needing something to do. (That is what we say in the construction business when our inventory of work has been depleted) An acquaintance of ours, a competitor, had landed a big project up in North Texas, in the Possum Kingdom Area. It was more work than his crews could adequately handle, so we contracted for part of the project. We would be laying a 10 mile long segment of 24” water line. I was only 24 years old at the time. Madeline, our not yet 2 year old son Matthew and I relocated to that … Continue reading Mrs. Lily Mae Little

More About G.K.

I wrote about my drunken accountant a while back. “GK, My Accountant With A Drinking Problem”. GK may have been an old drunk, but I had a real fondness for him. Following is a story about the evening goings on for the crew when we were up building a 24” water line in Stephens County. Our office for the Stephens County project was in a small town of Ivan. Actually Ivan wasn’t a town. It was a beer joint and then our little office building. We were on a party line with the Kate’s Place.Ms. Kate was like our answering … Continue reading More About G.K.