Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Riding a rock drill


Summer jobs for college students come in many flavors, and I will never forget the summer I spent riding a rock drill helping dig a trench for a utility line. I seem to remember that the tool weighed about 90 pounds while I weighed all of 125, but I think my memory has inflated the weight somewhat. Googling for air hammers and rock drills, I find that the heaviest is more like 60 pounds. The one I used I remember had a spade bit for biting into the shale of the flint hills near Manhattan, Kansas. It was a pneumatic tool of course and one grabbed the handle, compressed the trigger, and a nearby air compressor made it start hammering. The bit often got stuck in the shale, and I had to pull back and let it rip trying to pull loose. There were two of us kids, and I was only good for about a 10 minute stretch before I yielded the tool for my buddy to take his turn.

Wicked looking tools, aren’t they? I would sometimes get up the next morning and not be able to curl my fingers into a fist for the first hour or so. Somehow I managed to show up for work at the Kansas Power & Light truck garage in time to join the crew for another day of work in the hot Kansas sun. Isn’t it interesting how I want to make it sound grim and heroic? But it didn’t seem that to me, and I was always glad to claim my pay envelope on Friday which was stuffed with bills and a few coins. No paychecks then.

Now, over a half century later, I have to wonder how much time and distance have warped my memories of those summer jobs. I will never know, and not to put too fine a point on it, neither will you, dear reader.

Dave, an old man with his memories.


4 Responses to “Riding a rock drill”
  1. Linda says:

    Another facet of your life I did not know, keep the stories coming! Jackhammer boy. Wow!

  2. Dave says:

    Weel…which stories would you like to hear? True ones? (The other kind are more fun to write about.)

  3. Leslie says:

    Also a new tidbit of info in your history. That job sounds grueling. Dad, how about telling us about your impressions of the late forties and fifties? it’s an era that fascinates me, curious what stuck with you. Artie Shaw I’m sure is on the list…

  4. Dave says:

    Artie Shaw is definitely on my list. Next time you are here, feel free to steal some of my CDs from any era from mid 40s to mid 50s.

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