Fork in the Road: Trader John Hughes,The Big Cornstalk and Pocahontas

We’re All Family: Trader John Hughes,The Big Cornstalk and Pocahontas

  First White Man Trading Post

Vol 2

 

Trudging along on this genealogy adventure of 2020 for my family and that of my wife, I have stumbled upon some really interesting stories. Here is one of those. 

This takes place in Linda’s maternal side of her family. Her parents are Paul and Donna (Callaway) Meeker and living in Manito, Illinois. Grandma on her mother’s side was Bertha (Hughes) Callaway. This is all the current information you will get for now as we jump many, many generations for our story of Trader John Hughes and his life. 

 

John Rice (Rees) Hughes was born in 1615 in Anglesey, Wales. Historical records have not been able to locate his parents names. John cme over to the United States at a young age and loved to hunt, fish and trap. His first real job was as a ship captain that brought immigrants from other countries to the United States. He would get the government to deed land to him and then when he got to the US, that land was divided among the parties on the ship. 

In the mid-1600s, Captain John Rice Hughes, a Welshman known in the area simply as “Trader” Hughes, established a trading post at Jamestown, Virginia, in order to trade primarily with the Powhatan Indians in the area.  It has been said that if the Jamestown colony had not been trading with the Native Americans in the area, they would not have survived their first winter.  

It is here that Hughes met a beautiful woman of the Powhatan tribe known as Nicketti or ‘She-Sweeps-the-Dew-from-the-Flowers” as she is known by her tribe members. There is contention about whether John Hughes married her or not. According to historians, white men didn’t marry Indian girls as a rule. It was forbidden in the white world. Whatever. More on that later. 

 

Nicketti and Her Family

Everyone has heard of Pocahontas of course. our ancestor was a niece of Pocahantas. In English she was called Nicketti. But because of her great beauty she was called ‘She Who Sweeps Dew From Flowers’ in the Algonquin tongue. She was the daughter of Cleopatra (so named as the suggestion of John Smith whom Pocohantas has saved from death earlier), a younger sister of Pocahontis.

Pocahontas was the princess daughter of Powhatan the powerful chieftain whom was the first Indian leader in America to deal with the Europeans. Cleopatra was married to Opechancanough, the brother of Powhatan. Opechancanough succeeded Powhatan as chief or their tribe and a large coalition of neighboring tribes. Opechancanough was much more warlike than his brother. In 1640 he initiated a sustained war against the whites. Although almost half the whites died, Opechancanough was finally forced to give it up.

Nicketti, his daughter even married an Englishman in the end. The first of many unions of Europeans and Native Americans began with Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Our ancestors must have certainly been amongst the very earliest.

He was Capt John Rice “Trader” Hughes. He sailed a supply ship to the Jamestown settlement. After he sold the ship, he found and married the princess Nicketti, moved them up into the mountains as yet never entered by the whites, built a cabin which served as a home and trading center. There they had their children and raised them amongst the Indians. Even during the big uprising of 1640 when half the whites were killed, the Capt. & Nicketti lived without troubles.

 

We start with Chief Morning Ripple of the Powhatan Tribe who was born in 1410 in Werowocomoco, Powhatan/Orapax Nation, Pre-Colonial Jamestown, Virginia. He died in 1495 in Powhatan, Virginia, having lived a long life of 85 years.

His son, also known as Morning Ripple was born in 1389. He married Ripple on an unknown date. He died in 1470 before his father. 

In 1440, they had a daughter, Murmuring Stream who was born in 1440 in Virginia, her father, Chief, was 51, and her mother, Ripple, was 28. She had one son with Chief Dashing Stream–Great Chief Powhatan (father of Emperior Wahunsonacock Powhatan) in 1517. She died in 1525 in her hometown, having lived a long life of 85 years.

Their son, Great Chief Running Stream Mamanatowick Ensenore Don Luis Velasco of the Iroquois Powhatan was born on June 3, 1517, in Staunton River, Virginia, his father, Chief, was 43 and his mother, Murmuring, was 77. He married Amopotuskee Nonoma Scent Flower Amonsoquath Winanske of the Algonkian in 1547 in Powhatan, Virginia. He died in April 1570 in Jamestown, Virginia, at the age of 52.

Next in line is Chief Running Stream Wahunsonacock Kocoum Powhatan of the Patawomeck Tribe and he was born on June 17, 1545, in Village, Virginia, his father, Great, was 28 and his mother, Amopotuskee, was 28. He had one child with Matatishe Winanuske Nonoma Powhatan and children with Matatishe Pocahon Morning Flower Nonoma Powhatan. He died in April 1618 in King William, Virginia, at the age of 72.

They had a daughter Scent Flower Powhatan Cornstalk was born on June 3, 1517, in Staunton, Virginia. She married Running Stream in 1520. She died in 1600 in Virginia having lived a long life of 83 years.

OK, here we go. 

The Great Cornstalk enters the family. Chief Opechan Stream Cornstalk (Opechancanough) Powhatan was born on June 17, 1545, in Virginia, He married Cleopatra Shawano Powhatan in his hometown. He died on October 5, 1644, in Jamestown, Virginia, at the impressive age of 99.

Here is where we find that Cleopatra was younger sister (by 17 years) to Pocahontas. Yes, that one. The John Smith one that eventually married John Rolfe. Pocahontas was only 27 when she died in the arms of her husband as she was leaving Britain to return to Virginia.  They had just sailed away and were leaving the Thames estuary when she became very sick and the ship pulled to shore where she died. Some people claim she was killed or poisoned. There are many stories about Pocahontas, many of the popular stories that everyone assumes are true are not.  The real story is much darker.

Previous to her marriage to Rolfe, Pocahontas had been married (very, very young) to Kocoum, a Patawomeck chief (the English called him a “private captaine”) who was killed by the Jamestown settlers when they captured Pocahontas in 1613. They had a daughter, Ka-Okee, who was left behind to be raised by the tribe. Ka-Okee was regarded as Native American royalty and she married the high-born Englishman, Thomas Pettus. 

Now back on track.

Cleopatra had several children but for our purpose we focus on Nicketti that was mentioned above. He married Trader John Hughes and built a cabin deep in the woods on the Indian territory. 

Hughes was the first permanent settler in Amherst Co. Va. He and his Indian wife established a trading post on the north side of the James River, west of the Tobacco Row Mountains (circa late 1600’s). His wife was a niece to Pocahontas.

Traders began to move their goods along the upper James River around 1720. According to Alexander Brown in his 1895 book, …”Cabells and Their Kin”…, Hughes was the first known white man to open a post for Indian trade above …the falls…. He built his cabin deep in the silent forests along the Blue Ridge. Hughes traded with the local Monacan Indians and was accepted by them because of his wife’s heritage

Tracing back quickly we find Mathias Hughes-Samuel Hughes-Aram Hughes-John Taylor Hughes Sr.-John Taylor and now I slow down as the family moves to Illinois.

2nd Great Grandfather of my wife

When John Demoss Hughes was born on October 9, 1819, in Holmes, Ohio, his father, Taylor, was 27 and his mother, Mary, was 21. He married Minerva Jane Snodgrass. He died on January 29, 1905, in Fulton, Illinois, having lived a long life of 85 years.

When Benjamin Scott Hughes was born on August 31, 1855, in Fulton, Illinois, his father, John, was 35 and his mother, Minerva, was 35. He had one daughter with Jennie Bailey in 1905. He died on October 21, 1928, in Pekin, Illinois, at the age of 73.

Linda’s Grandmother

When Bertha Hughes was born on January 22, 1904, in Easton, Illinois, her father, Benjamin, was 48, and her mother, Jennie, was 31. She married Elmor Clyde Callaway on August 4, 1923. She died on August 30, 1979, in Pekin, Illinois, at the age of 75.

One of Elmor (which everyone called him Clyde) and Bertha’s daughters is Donna Lee Callaway and she married Paul Meeker which are my wife’s parents.

 

Now we can apply for minority scholarships with Indian blood. 

We are back to where we began!

 

Hope you enjoyed the trek.

 

Please feel free to share! 

Volume 1- The Covingtons

Fork in the Road – We are All Family

Fork in the Road – We are All Family

This is an installment into my search of the genealogy of my family and that of my wife. There will be tons of stories that I will write about after searching. Keep in mind I have tried to get all correct information but I can guarantee you there will be mistake and they are unintentional. Enjoy these and please let others know about my search.

It is my goal to keep the Knuppel search and the Sawrey search ongoing. Those are from my dads side and my moms side. Along with that, I will be looking into my wifes family with searches of the Meeker family and the Callaway family.

But these on this website are just a Fork in the Road. What that means is I have gone off the beaten path a bit, but still a direct descendant and looked for stories. As an example, it might be the 5th great-grandfathers wife side that I found something interesting. After all, it is the family of my 5th great-grandmother!

genealogy

The Covingtons

my 9th great-grandfather

 

 

The Covington family can be traced back in Harrold, England to Elizabethan times when William Covington was born in the village in around 1593. There were Covingtons in other parts of North Bedfordshire, including Bedford and nearby Turvey and, of course, in the village of Covington just across the county border in the Kimbolton part of Huntingdonshire.

Where is Harrold?

Harrold is a civil parish and electoral ward in the Borough of Bedford within Bedfordshire, England, around nine miles north-west of Bedford. The village is on the north bank of the River Great Ouse, and is the site of an ancient bridge, linking the village with Carlton with Chellington on the south bank.

 

We know little of the early life of William in Harrold or of his wife, but a son George was born in 1617 and sadly died that same year. In November 1618 a second son William was born and eventually there were three more children, Joan, Hannah and Robert. The family all grew up in Harrold and in 1639 William was married in nearby Pavenham to Ann. Within the first few years of this marriage Ann died and, sometime in the 1640s, William emigrated to America (this coincided with The English Civil War).

We know that he was transported to Virginia as an indentured emigrant and that his transportation had been arranged by brothers John and George Mott. He arrived in Old Rappahannock County of the colony of Virginia (now known as Essex County). The Mott brothers were agents in recruiting and shipping colonists for Virginia and for this service they received a patent for 15,564 acres of land on waters draining into the Rappahannock River on 17 October, 1670.

This was for 313 indentured workers known as “headrights”. William’s name was on that list and so too was the name of Thomas Howerton (born in England around 1640 and shipped to Virginia in the 1660s. Thomas and William became partners and William subsequently married Dorothy Howerton who was probably Thomas’s sister.

William and Dorothy Covington raised a family. Thomas and William were obviously involved in the tobacco trade because in 1670 they purchased a small part of the Mott plantation for 3,000 pounds of tobacco. Originally this was for 300 acres, but by 1683 the partners had together acquired 1000 acres and they then divided this up by an “Agreement between Howerton and Covington to divide land from Mr. Mott. Howerton to have land on the south side and Covington to have land on the north side of Dragon Swamp”( 4th April 1683).

The Dragon Swamp is also Known as the Dragon Run; it is a stream which flows into a tidal tributary of Chesapeake Bay. In 1607 it was first explored by Captain John Smith and became a popular area for settlement in the 1640s by what are still referred to in Virginia as the Cavaliers.

William Covington’s will was made in 1696 and proved the next year when he died at the age of 77. He left the plantation, which by then included a mill known as Covington’s Mill, to his three sons. A daughter and a grand-daughter each received a cow.

William Covington was probably the first person from Harrold to set foot in the New World. His arrival in the 1640s was just over 20 years after the Pilgrim Fathers had made their epic journey to New England and when settlement in Virginia was in its infancy. Other members of the Covington family later came from England. Nehemiah Covington from the Huntingdonshire village of that name arrived in the 1660s.

Today there are more than a thousand names of the direct descendants of the Harrold branch stemming from “William Covington the Immigrant”.

Genealogical records based on primary sources such as wills, land registration, state and county records and family bibles, etc. show the spread of these Covingtons through the states of the USA over 13 generations. A random sample of 62 of these Harrold descendants (all those named William Covington) have revealed that they were born in 12 states of the USA:

Within this single branch of a family is the story of the making of America – early settlements in Virginia and the Carolinas, wagon train migration to Tennessee and to Missouri, and military involvement in the Revolutionary War the Mexican War, the American Civil War (on both sides) and two world wars. Between these major events ordinary people were involved in farming, setting up businesses, missionary involvement in the churches, public service, academic life and, even, rocket science. The Harrold branch of the Covingtons certainly played its part in the foundation of modern America.

 

 

The Family History Project

The Family History Project

The Year 2020 is here. I made a decision to deep dive into the genealogy of my predecessors and those of my wife Linda. So here is my plan. I will trace back four families in our history. The Knuppel’s, the Meeker’s, The Callaway’s and the Sawrey’s are the sources of my work. However, those will be done on ancestry.com and family search. It is my hope to make that into a book that I can write. What about the other stuff not included in the book?

From there I will feature side stories on different family members or there spouse on this website. From there I will venture off the path and delve into some historical context as to what I have found. Let me tell you now that what I have found spans many centuries spread among different several continents. In fact, my son Randy and I have been able to go back as far as 30 AD in some cases.

The stories as amazing. It is fun to go back and find references to slave trading, war heroics, settlers and traders of the early days of this continent along with the fact the some of the bloodlines are directly linked to famous historical figures.

Look for this to begin soon RIGHT HERE.

 

-Tom

Women in Baseball- Required Charm School

Women in Baseball- Required Charm School

The following text was taken from the charm school guide located in the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

 

When you become a player in the-American Girls Baseball League you have reached the highest position that a girl can attain in this sport. the-American Girls Baseball League is getting great public attention because it is pioneering a new sport for women.

You have certain responsibilities because you too are in the limelight. Your actions and appearance both on and off the field reflect on the whole profession. It is not only your duty to do your best to hold up the standard of this profession but to do your level best to keep others in the line.

The girls in our League are rapidly becoming the heroines of youngsters as well as grownups all over the world. People want to be able to respect their heroines at all times. The All-American Girls Baseball League is attempting to establish a high standard that will make you proud that you are a player in years to come.

We hand you this manual to help guide you in your personal appearance. We ask you to follow the rules of behavior for your own good as well as that of the future success of girls’ baseball.

In these few pages, you will find many of the simple and brief suggestions which should prove useful to you during the busy baseball season. If you plan your days to establish an easy and simple routine, so that your meals are regular and well balanced, so that you have time for outside play and relaxation, so that you sleep at least eight hours each night, and so that your normal functions are regular, you will be on the alert, do your job well, and gain the greatest joy from living. Always remember that your mind and your body are interrelated, and you cannot neglect one without causing the other to suffer. A healthy mind and a healthy body are the true attributes of the All-American girl.

Beauty Routines

Your ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGUE BEAUTY KIT Should always contain the following:

  • Cleansing Cream
  • Lipstick
  • Rouge Medium
  • Cream Deodorant
  • Mild Astringent
  • Face powder for Brunette
  • Hand Lotion
  • Hair Remover

You should be the best judge of your own beauty requirements. Keep your own kit replenished with the things you need for your own toilette and your beauty culture and care. Remember the skin, the hair, the teeth and the eyes. It is most desirable in your own interests, that of your teammates and fellow players, as well as from the standpoint of the public relations of the league, that each girl be at all times presentable and attractive, whether on the playing field or at leisure. Study your own beauty culture possibilities and without overdoing your beauty treatment at the risk of attaining gaudiness, practice the little measure that will reflect well on your appearance and personality as a real-American girl.

Suggested Beauty Routine

“After the Game”

Remember, the theAll-American girl is subjected to greater exposure through her activities on the diamond, through exertion in greater body warmth and perspiration, through exposure to dirt, grime and dust and through vigorous play to scratches, cuts, abrasions and sprains. This means extra precaution to assure all the niceties of toilette and personality. Especially “after the game,”the All American girl should take time to observe the necessary beauty ritual, to protect both her health and appearance. Here are a few simple rules that should prove helpful and healthful “after the game.”

  1. Shower well and soap the skin.
  2. Dry thoroughly to avoid chapping or chafing.
  3. Apply cleansing cream to face and remove with tissue.
  4. Wash face with soap and water.
  5. Apply skin astringent.
  6. Apply rouge moderately but carefully.
  7. Apply lipstick with moderate taste.
  8. Apply eye makeup if considered desirable.
  9. Apply powder.
  10. Check all cuts, abrasions or minor injuries.

If you suffer any skin abrasion or injury, or if you discern any aches or pains that do not appear to be normal, report them at once to your coach or chaperone or the person responsible for the treatment and first aid. Don’t laugh off slight ailments as trivialities because they can often develop into a serious infection or troublesome conditions that can handicap your play and cause personal inconvenience. See that your injuries, however slight, receive immediate attention. Guard your health and welfare.

Additional Beauty Routine

“Morning and Night”

In the morning, when you have more time to attend to your beauty needs, you will undoubtedly be enabled to perform a more thorough job. Use your cleansing cream around your neck as well as over the face. Remove it completely and apply a second time to be sure that you remove all dust, grease and grime. Wipe off thoroughly with cleansing tissue. Apply a lotion to keep your hands as lovely as possible. Use your manicure set to preserve your nails in a presentable condition and in keeping with the practical needs of your hands in playing ball.

Teeth

Not a great deal need be said about the teeth, because every All American girl instinctively recognizes their importance to her health, her appearance and her personality. There are many good tooth cleansing preparations on the market and they should be used regularly to keep the teeth and gums clean and healthy. A regular visit to a reliable dentist is recommended and certainly, no tooth ailment should be neglected for a moment.

Body

Unwanted or superficial hair is often quite common and it is no problem to cope with in these days when so many beauty preparations are available. If your have such hair on arms or legs, there are a number of methods by which it can be easily removed. There is an odorless liquid cream which can be applied in a few moments, permitted to dry and then showered off.

Deodorant

There are a number of very fine deodorants on the market which can be used freely all over the body. The most important feature of some of these products is the fact that the fragrance stays perspiration proof all day long. These deodorants can be used especially where excess perspiration occurs and can be used safely and effectively without retarding natural perspiration. The All-American girl is naturally susceptible because of her vigorous activities and it certainly pays dividends to be on the safe side. Deodorant keeps you fresh and gives you assurance and confidence in your social contacts.

Eyes

“The Eyes are the Windows of the Soul”

The eyes indicate your physical fitness and therefore need your thoughtful attention and care. They bespeak your innermost thoughts. They reflect your own joy of living, or they can sometimes falsely bespeak the listlessness of mind and body. Perhaps no other feature of your face has more to do with the impression of beauty, sparkle, and personality which you portray.

A simple little exercise for the eyes and one which does not take much time can do much to strengthen your eyes and add to their sparkle and allure. Turn your eyes to the corner of the room for a short space of time, then change to the other corner, then gaze at the ceiling and at the floor alternately. Rotating or rolling your eyes constitutes an exercise and your eyes will repay you for the attention that you give to them. There are also vitamins prescribed for the care of the eyes. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of vegetables. We all know well that the armed forces found carrots a definite dietary aid to eyesight. Use a good eyewash frequently and for complete relaxation at opportune moments, lie down and apply an eye pad to your eyes for several minutes.

Hair

“Woman’s Crowning Glory”

One of the most noticeable attributes of a girl is her hair, a woman’s crowning glory. No matter the features, the clothes, the inner charm or personality, they can all suffer beneath a sloppy or stringy coiffure. Neither is it necessary to feature a fancy or extravagant hairdo because a daily program for the hair will help to keep it in healthful and attractive condition.

Neatness is the first and greatest requirement. Arrange your hair neatly in a manner that will best retain its natural style despite vigorous play. Off the diamond, you can readily arrange it in a softer and more feminine style, if you wish. But above all. keep your hair as neat as possible, on or off the field.

Brushing the hair will help a great deal more than is realized. It helps to stimulate the scalp which is the source of healthful hair growth. It develops the natural beauty and luster of the hair. And it will not spoil the hairdo. When brushing, bend over and let your head hang down. Then brush your hair downward until the scalp tingles. Just a few minutes of this treatment each day will tend to keep your scalp in fine condition and enhance the beauty of your “crowning glory”.

Mouth

Every woman wants to have an attractive and pleasing mouth. As you speak, people watch your mouth and you can do much, with a few of the very simplest tools, to make your mouth invitingly bespeak your personality. Your beauty aids should, of course, include an appropriate type of lipstick and a brush. They should be selected with consideration and care.

With your lipstick, apply two curves to your upper lip. Press your lips together. Then, run your brush over the lipstick and apply it to your lips, outlining them smoothly. This is the artistic part of the treatment in creating a lovely mouth.

Patient practice and care make perfect. Open your mouth and outline your own natural curves. If your lips are too thin to please you, shape them into fuller curves. Now, use a tissue between your lips and press lightly to take off excess lipstick. If you wish to have a “firmer foundation,” use the lipstick a second time and use the tissue “press” again.

Caution: Now that you have completed the job, be sure that the lipstick has not smeared your teeth. Your mirror will tell the tale, and it is those little final touches that really count.

Hands

The hands are certainly among the most expressive accouterments of the body. They are always prominent and noticeable and while feminine hands can be lovely and lily white, as described in the ads, the All­American girl has to exercise practical good sense in preserving the hands that serve her so faithfully and well in her activities. Cleanliness and neatness again come to the fore. Your hands should be thoroughly cleaned and washed as frequently as seems desirable or necessary, and especially after games, they should be cleaned to remove all dust and grime. Soap and water and pumice will do this job to perfection. Then a protective cream should be applied to keep hands soft and pliable and to avoid cracking and over-dryness. Your nails should be gone over lightly each day, filing to prevent cracks and splits, oiling for the cuticle.

The length of your nails, of course, depends largely upon the requirements of your play. Keep them neat and clean and your hands will always be attractive.

Face

“All Beauty Comes From Within”

To the theAll-American girl, who is exposed to the elements, to the sun, to the wind and to the dust, it is most essential that every precaution be taken for the care of the skin. It should be covered with a protective substance of cream or liquid, depending entirely upon whether your skin is dry or oily. If it is dry, the cream type is recommended and if it is oily, you should use the liquid type. A good cleansing cream can serve as a cleanser, a powder base, a night cream and also a hand lotion. It is a good idea to have such an all-around utility cream on hand at all times and to use it regularly for these purposes.

FOR YOUR COLORING – again it depends on your particular complexion and whether you have an abundance of natural color tones or need very little coloring. You can determine this in keeping with good taste to acquire the necessary results. People who are naturally pale, of course, need the coloring to help their complexion.

 

NEXT: Rules of Conduct

“You Want to Ride the Ball…..”

“You Want to Ride the Ball…..”

(originally written in March 2017)

 

 

I heard some version of that sentence at least three times. It still haunts me a bit from time to time. Allow me to work up to giving you more information at the end of the blog.

During the summer of 1978, I began working as a Union Laborer. School was out and I wanted to earn some extra money. One of my brothers knew the Union Steward and he had no problem getting me a union card. That is, he had no problem after I paid $500 for “dues” which was interesting since the union only charged $350. It is called “greasing the wheel” and I was set. I had no issue with paying the money because a union worker made a good wage. I was set to work from June 1- August 10.

Grab a Broom

I was assigned to work at the new power station they were building just outside of Havana. The first day they took all my information and assigned a foreman to me. I was to grab a broom and clean all day. They had part of the plant up and union men of all trades were working on it. I was to clean an area that was the outside perimeter of the plant. I was told NOT to clean the inner circle. It was open to the sky in that area and workers were working high and they wanted to keep people out of the area on the ground level. They told me that was to prevent injury and things could be accidentally dropped from high. They assured me nothing had every fallen but it could. By 9AM I am cleaning and sweeping and leaning on my broom like any good union laborer when about 10:30AM I heard a whizzing sound and then workers yelling. One of the groups above had allowed a roll of cable to slip out of their grasp and it can down to the ground with a whizz. Whiping around and it would have decapitated any one in its path. So much for nothing every dropping.

Geniuses at Work

A couple of interesting things happened that I want to share that didn’t directly affect me but is related to the power plant construction. The first one deals with a railroad. There was a crew that was to build a railroad track from one end of the site to the other. Rails were mounted on five foot planks and then they were placed together (linked) to form the tracks. Problem was… they started with a crew on one end and another crew on the other end and they miss meeting each other by a good 50 feet. They had to go back and remove some of them and re-do the linking so they could complete the project. This took about 3 days to get it back on track.

Another day here was a horrible thing happen. Every day new pieces of steel were lifted up and beams were placed in the building of the plant. One particular day I happened to notice them swinging in the beam and a guy standing on the adjacent beam slowly signalling the beam into the correct place. He got to the last part and told the operator to set it down. Just as he did it moved about 3-4 inches and it was set down on the feet of the guy doing the signalling. Long story short he was taken to hospital and had three toes on each foot gone. The beam had crushed them. Ugh.

Sitting Idly

Another thing was I was working in the back lot of the site and I came across a guy sitting in a crane. He was just sitting there. He sat there for about 4 hours and then when I came back past him I struck up a conversation. I asked him why his crane was not running and why he just sat there. He said several days before he was sent out there to work and when he was done they instructed him to leave his crane and they would have him bring it up the next day. Problem was… in between that time they had unloaded a very large load of lumber in the path of his return. They couldn’t get him back. He was told to go to his machine and just sit there until the path was clear for him to return. It was 6 days later that they finally got him back. He was paid the entire time to just sit there.

What to Do With Lazy Workers

One oddity happened. I had worked there for about 3 weeks with a guy named “Butch”. He didn’t work hard and he showed up about three days per week. The supervisors called a short meeting one morning and informed all of the workers that Butch had been promoted and was to become a supervisor immediately. Wait, this is the guy that doesn’t work hard and only 3 days per week? Yep. About 3-4 weeks later we got the scoop. They put him in that job to make him show up. It worked. Butch was there everyday and didn’t have to work, only supervise. I guess somebody was a genius to think of that.

Jackhammer

I had a horrible couple of weeks when I was assigned, daily, to run a jackhammer. They needed concrete taken out of a 80’x60′ area that was 14 inches deep. It was a mistake and they neeed to rectify it. So for about 10 working days I ran that hammer. It was hard work, slow work and when I got home I was shaking a bit like a jackhammer. Then they rewarded me for four days ( I never complained to them about the jackhammer) and was given a job “spotting.”

Making Sure Nobody Gets Covered Up

This job is on the ground as the backhoes are working. The holes are about 40 feet deep they have a laborer in the hole doing some digging to make it a clean dig. So I stood on top of the hole and watched the laborer work as the backhoe also worked in the same hole….. if the laborer should get covered by the backhoe I was to signal the operator to stop and then I was to alert others that he had been covered up. Then three of us were to go into the hole and dig him out. It never happened.

The Ball

One day my foreman’s boss approach me and ask me if I wanted to work high. I asked him what he meant and he pointed to the top of the building. I stood there for a long while and then I began to talk.

Me: “You want me to work up there?”

Boss: “Yes, it’s an easy job. All you do all day is make sure everyone has water. You check the water jugs.”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Boss: ” It’s easy. They have flooring and railings up there and besides you make a $1 more per hour.”

Me: ” Ok, I guess I can.”

Boss: ” Good. You want to ride the ball up?”

Me: “huh?”

Boss: “The ball. The ball on the crane. just grab ahold and ride it to the top.”

Me: “Nah, I don’t think so.”

Boss: “Ok, there are steps that go up there. ”

So off I went. I found the stairs and headed up. Oh but wait! The stairs ended at the fifth floor and there are eight stories to the building. What am I looking at? Oh my. There was a straight up ladder that extended to the sixth, seventh and eighth story. Straight up. I stood there for a few seconds when some random guy came by and asked me if there was a problem. I told him I was unsure about climbing the ladder to the top. He responded with, ” do you want to ride the ball up?” I declined and grab the rungs of the ladder. White knuckling my way one at a time. I reached the top level. What am I going to do now? I had to swing my legs over to get on the flooring of the work area. I froze for a bit. Some guy asked me if I was ok and I shook my head affirmatively and slowly swung my leg over and crawl over to reach the top.

I was at the top and not feeling very well.  My new supervisor approached me and asked me if I was ok.

New Boss: ” hey buddy, you ok, you don’t look so good.”

Me: ” I guess I am ok.”

New Boss: “Great, let me get you started and you now that you make a $1 more per hour working high, don’t you? (I nodded) You have five areas up here to make sure they have adequate water supply. If a water jug gets almost empty you need to signal the guy down there running the ball. Tell him and he will send a new one up.”

So he pointed to my first area and I started over there…but one thing didn’t look good. They told me there was flooring a railings up here. Technically, they were correct. BUT it was boards running from beam to beam with a rope railing around the edge. GULP. So I started over. Slowly I inched my way over, holding on to the railing. The boards were bowing in the middle and I felt really uncomfortable. I reached the water and it was fine. I told myself I couldn’t do this job. I inched my way back and got to some solid footing when another random guy stopped me.

Random Guy: “Hey buddy, you ok?”

Me: “No I don’t think so. I don’t feel real good working high.”

Random Guy: “But you get a $1 more per hour working up here.”

(I thought that $1 more isn’t going to help me when I die up here)

Me: ” I think I need to go back down.”

Random Guy: “Ok, you want to ride the ball down?”

Me: “No thanks.”

So I decided to forego the dollar more and head back down. I walked over and then it struck me that I need to go back down a straight ladder and I froze. I had to swing my leg over and grab the rungs of the ladder at the same time. I stood there. Another guy asked me if I was ok and repeated the same offer to have me grab the big ball on the crane and ride it down. I mustered the courage to climb down. I finally, reached the ground, and my legs were shaking and I felt ill.

Once on ground,  the first supervisor came to me and I told him I couldn’t work high. He said it should be worth it for a $1 more. I made some comment about being at the top and seeing Canton from there and how I wanted to live to have a family and the dollar meant nothing to me. I told him I was sick and was going home.

That night, laying in bed, I could visualize everything I saw from the time starting up to getting back on the ground. I passed up the extra money but that didn’t bother me. The next day back to work, the supervior told me that less than 20% were cut out to work high.

I wonder if things would have been different if I would have ridden the ball.

 

 

Previous Blog Posts:

Sunday Fight Behind the Root Beer Stand

Remembering My Time Around Easton

“Oh Well, I Will Strike Her Out Anyway”

What Were Our Parents Thinking?

Call the Sheriff

Kilbourne Condom

I’m Still Paying For It

My First School Basketball Team

The History of Me- My Birthday

 

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