Saturday, March 18, 2006

On That Day

Once the exterior wall of the Wards store was complete, we began the interior wall work…

A note: everyone remembers where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was break time and I was sitting on a stack of drywall on the second floor of the Montgomery Ward store in Canoga Park when the general contractor came up the ladder from his trailer with the news. We were stunned…

It was certainly a relief to be working inside and away from the sun that summer. Although, the work was mostly high work and that meant I was on a scaffold almost all day long. And then I got a break…

Alex had been frustrated with the progress on the escalator framing. It seemed that everyone that worked on it had a different approach to how it should be framed. And during these early days in the drywall industry, there were few rules for framing. And according to the general contractor, this was also the first time that an escalator was being finished with drywall and not plaster; ever.

And so Alex decided on something quite dramatic…he told the crew that was working on it to go and do something else and he told me to do the framing…myself. There I was, with the escalator, a pile of framing material and 50#’s of welding rod! And no one to tell me how to do it.

Now an escalator without the finish on it is simply a mass of structural tubing (round) and rails for the steps to roll on. No provision is made for finishes and you have to “invent” them as you go. And do it without irritating the escalator builders. They actually do their work without outwardly noticing that you are there, unless you drop a shower of hot sparks onto them! (Escalator/elevator installers are almost always “prima donna’s”. (sp?)

Once again I had to endure the mutterings of the offended journeymen that had been upstaged by an apprentice (me). I’m sure more than a few were hoping that I would fail. And there were a few times when I wondered if I would ever be able to pull it off. But Alex was right; there had been too much input into how it should have been framed and with just one persons view to consider, right or wrong, it began to come together.

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