Climbing Bulbs and Changing Towers (or something like that)

One of my friends worked as an engineer at a local radio station.  The talk among the electricians I worked with, was that if you could get to the top of the radio tower and replace the bulb you would get paid $25.00.  This was in the early ‘60s and $25.00 was a lot of money!

I asked my friend about it.  He explained that a man came regularly to change all the bulbs whether or not they were burned out, except for the top one.  The top one was only replaced when it was burned out.  He didn’t know how much the station paid, but he thought it was pretty good.

One day he called me up and said some of the bulbs were out on the tower.  He wondered if I would like to try changing them out.  I jumped into my 1948 Ford Flatbed Pick-up and hurried out to the tower site.

When I got there and looked up at the tower I thought it was really high!  I didn’t think I wanted to try it.  My friend hadn’t arrived yet and I didn’t want to leave without talking to him.  I laid down on the bed of my pick-up and studied the thing.  The longer I studied it, watching the clouds drift past the tower, or the tower drift past the clouds (it was hard to tell which), the easier it looked.

When my friend showed up I said O.K. let’s do it.  (Sometimes it’s better to go with your original instinct.)  He informed me that he would call the station and inform them that the power would be cut for a little while.  I asked if that was necessary – couldn’t I jump quickly from the earth to the first rung?  That’s what the experienced fellows do.  He didn’t want to take a chance on me as this was my first time.

I strapped on my gear and proceeded to the first light – about ¼ of the way up.  I tied myself off and took the glass cover off.  It was about the size of a quart jar.  The glass cover was tied to the fixture with a small chain so it would hang there while you changed out the bulb.  What I had not realized was the chain was rusted in two and I almost dropped it.

That totally unnerved me.  I somehow got the bulb changed, the cover back on and I came down.  I informed my friend that I couldn’t do it – don’t pay me as I didn’t get the job done.  That eliminated any ambition to be the light bulb changer on radio towers.

The funniest part about the whole incident was a week later when I received a check in the mail from the station for $5.00; for changing one bulb.

It didn’t change my mind about climbing towers and changing bulbs.