By Mike Tillotson
I don’t have access to a computer nor know how to use one. I barely get a radio signal, and my tin-can barb-wire phone is not always clear here in the hills either.
As for the elevators I was thirteen on my first summer with my brothers. I just graduated from Grade School. Our Father helped his Father build Wood Elevators, and often was told to put out that cigarette.
We headed for Flagler, Colorado; seventy five miles East of Denver. Charles was driving a 53 Ford 4-door our Father bought for him. Two-tone tan that Charles had nosed, and added fender skirts, and a continental kit. We were pulling a sixteen foot trailer that we lived in for the summer.
We were paid $1.00/Hr.–60 Hrs./Week with time and one half over 40 hours. I was the time keeper, and drove a tractor with a front-end loader. I filled up the three-bag concrete mixer with sand. Someone else put the cement and limestone in the hopper. We mixed our own concrete because we were in the middle of no-where.
I remember the Super catching me putting pennies on the rail track, and helping me with the time-sheet so I could go to Denver with my brothers for the week-end.
I remember Charles had a girl-friend, and when we came back to Omaha in September; she came in to visit him. When Charles went to meet her at the place she was staying; Sharon went with him. When Charles and Sharon met her she said she forgot something in her room, and went back to get it. After waiting about one half hour Charles sent the door man to the room. He returned and said the room was empty, and the window was open.
You have to remember this was 1953 when we were at the age of innocence, and life was pure and simple.
The following summer (1954) we went to Albert City, Iowa, 75 miles North of Council Bluffs. We rented rooms in a private home. We worked with a 20 something guy that ran the winch pulley bucket to the top of the elevator as it progressed, and brought building materials down. We also rode the bucket up and down to get on deck. The elevator bens were 125 feet to the top with a Head-House of 75 on top of that.
The winch guy went to work on another elevator the Company had going in a town about 30 miles away. This was an addition to an existing elevator–an add-on.
At noon one day he went to the top with new boots on. There were four or five planks at the top from old to new grain bens.
No hand rails or anything. They were not required at the time. I doubt OSHA even existed. He either fell or jumped going from old to new.
Some said he might have tripped with the new boots.
Charles and I bought a nice 40 Ford sedan for $75.00 off a used car lot. He didn’t want to use the 53 any more than necessary. Coming back to Omaha one week end we were zipping down a country road with corn as high-as-a-sky and started through an intersection with no stop signs.
We got broad-sided by some farmer who put us in a ditch; up side down. Later in the day when we crossed the Mormon Bridge in North Omaha; one of us reached through the front of the car to pay the Toll. The windshield was gone.
The next summer (1955) I worked in Lincoln, Nebr. by myself. My sister Mary’s future brother-in-law Merle worked on the job also.
The Elevators at that time required about 12-15 men per shift. Two shifts per day–twenty four hour continuous pour. Usually about 18-20 days to get to the top of the tanks. The jacks that raised the forms were all manually operated. Today with the advanced electrical operated jacks the number of men required is probably half.
That is the story of my teenage years in MAYBERRY.
- Go West, young men, to Flagler, Colorado, and build a grain elevator! (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
- 130-foot fall claims Larry Ryan’s life in Pocahontas, Iowa (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)