In the electrical trade there is a lot of ditching and back-filling involved in many jobs.  It’s not just a matter of going into a warm, heated building and dinging around with small hand tools.  Among electricians, there is a difference of opinion as to who should dig the ditches and do the back-filling.

I was never particular about whether or not to dig ditches.  If it would speed up the job or save money for the home owner, I was not too proud to dig.  To do a proper job of back-filling you had to tamp the earth down.  There were tools for this.  One type of tamper you directed from behind and it vibrated heavily.  Another type of tamper was called (appropriately) a grass hopper.  A grass hopper had only one handle like a shovel with a motor on it.

The grass hopper would leap into the air and come down and tamp the soil.  It worked all right, but you had to be in rhythm with the grass hopper.  I haven’t seen one for many years.  I think I know why.

One fellow was using one and it leaped up into the air and caught him under his jaw.  They hauled him away to the hospital.  I don’t really know how badly he was hurt.

Another tool used in construction is a floor sander.  Normally electricians don’t use floor sanders, but they can be working on jobs where a floor sander is in use.  One shop I worked in was located in a building that stretched from street to alley.  This arrangement did not provide much parking.  Across the alley from the shop was a hard wood floor laying shop.

Everybody from both shops wound up parking in the same alley.  One of the guys from the flooring shop was very particular as to how and where everyone parked.  If someone was parked incorrectly, he would cuss the person out, never saying politely; “could you move your vehicle?”  No one liked him.

One day I was working on a house out in the country.  This fellow was sanding the floor while I was on the job.  The home owner made coffee for us and called us in to the kitchen to take a break, but Paul, the floor sander, just kept sanding away.  Finally he stopped and joined us for coffee.

He took some pills with his coffee and said that he had tried to go a bit longer but just couldn’t.  We asked him what the problem was, and his story completely changed my feeling about him.

He had had sinus trouble and had gone to see a doctor about it.  The doctor performed surgery on his sinuses and then gave him a prescription for pain.  The doctor informed him that he must take the prescription immediately or he would suffer a blinding headache that he wouldn’t be able to live with.

What the doctor didn’t tell him was this was a lifelong prescription and that the pills cost fifty cents apiece (in the 1950s).  He had to take them every 4 hours.

If it had been me, I would have been cranky too.