Friday, March 03, 2006


The afternoon dragged on and by 3:30, I was exhausted. I had been using muscles that had never been so abused before and I knew exactly where each of those muscles was located. Gathering up my tools and my lunch pail, I got into my car and drove home, wondering about this career I had embarked upon.

After some deliberation, I thought that I had actually enjoyed the experience. It was something new and I liked that. I had made $20 (before taxes) and that was good. It had been a challenge and I had met it. Also good. OK, I would show up tomorrow and do it again.

I worked my shift at the Texaco station that night and then slept soundly from midnight to 5, when the alarm clock sounded and it was time to get ready for the drive back into Hollywood.

That morning, Alex had a new job for me and Blackey was given another apprentice to confuse. My new job was to stock materials on some of the higher floors and another apprentice and I would be using the Buck Hoist to do it. The hoist was located along the backside of the building and consisted of a tower that reached to the full extent of the 9 story building and a flat platform (4’x8’) that was attached to the tower. A large Wisconsin V-4 engine powered a rotating drum that held the cables that pulled the platform up and down the tower. There were 3 levers and a throttle to operate. We were given a quick lesson on how to start the engine, pull the brake lever and which levers were “up” and which were “down”. And the most important lesson…always be ready to dive into the small space beneath the edge of the building whenever you heard the word, “Headache!”

And so we began. We would load the platform with material (from a list) and then I would start the engine, rev it up, pull the “up” lever and the platform would lurch upwards. The tricky part was stopping it at the level of the floor. Peering up and trying to determine that precise measurement was especially difficult when the platform was 80’ above you. The other apprentice would be on the upper floor and would yell down, “Up a little…hold it! Too much, back down a little.” All very difficult to do with a hoist that wanted to move in increments of 4’ or more…

Once the hoist was located at the proper height, I would take a ride on the man hoist, the Alimak, and head up to help remove the material from the Buck hoist. This platform had no side rails and so it was quite unnerving to step out onto it at those heights. The tower would creak and sway and you couldn’t help but wonder if the brake was really set. And if you looked down and saw anyone near the hoist controls, you jumped off the platform and yelled down to let them know you were using it.


Kitty said...

I am really fascinated with this blog. We lived in the same house during this period and I don't remember hearing any of this. I must have been in my own world and possibly you were not sharing details with your "little sister". I remember that you worked at Tai Song's, the liquor store and the gas station, but no details really. Anyway, it is quite interesting. Thanks

Steven said...

Thanks. I'm enjoying it as well...and trying not to embellish the truth anymore than necessary. Honest.

Being the great communicator that I was at that age, I doubt that I told anyone the details of my day at work.