Dam Work

Over in Eastern Montana they built the largest (at the time – and maybe still) earth constructed dam.  The Fort Peck Dam is, coincidently enough, located near Fort Peck, Montana.  Fort Peck is located near Wheeler, Montana which is named after one of my wife’s relatives.  However that’s not the point of the story.

Outside Wheeler, Montana was a sign that read; “The best Dam town by a Dam site.”

Many years later, I bid, and was awarded, the work on a job at the Grand Coulee Dam.  It was one of the most interesting jobs I had ever had, “by a Dam site.”

I got to see the generators in action.  It is dumb-founding to see the size of them.  If you have ever had to use a stand-by generator for your residence, you may have noticed the lights flickering a bit.  Yet the electricity from the huge generators on the dam does not flicker at all.  The electricity is steady as can be.

If you have seen the control module on a Boeing 727 you probably feel, as do I, that the controls are mind-boggling; with dials, knobs, levers, lights, etc.  Multiply that control board by 10 or 20 (it’s not an exact mathematical equation), and you will see how many controls there are for one of these large generators.

At the time I was doing the job on the Grand Coulee Dam the controls were monitored, adjusted, and checked on night and day.  I suppose by now they are controlled by computers.

When I worked on the university campus in Pullman, Washington, I would drive the 2 hour trip back and forth each day.  However the job at Grand Coulee was more distance than I wanted to travel on a daily basis.  I rented a small “bachelor pad” in someone’s basement and would come home on weekends.

Every so often Becky would come up and stay with me to make sure I was well fed and that the cleaning got done.  It was the first time in forty years that I had batched.  She wasn’t able to do it often because of family obligations.  One of the bonuses was that we got to see the light show that the Dam would put on every year.

One weekend when I got home from Grand Coulee, I didn’t have my wallet with my driver’s license, electrical licenses, credit cards and insurance cards.  I looked everywhere and worried.  I had to get a copy of my driver’s license, cancel the credit cards, call the insurance company, etc.

The next week when I went back on the job I searched everywhere.  I couldn’t find the wallet anywhere.

Before I came home the next weekend I was sitting on the bed changing my clothes.  I slipped my hand down between the mattress and the foot of the bed and there it was.  Now I had two licenses!  I thought; “this could be handy in case I lost it again.”  I found out that wasn’t legal.

I guess my short term memory was slipping even then.  By a Dam site.