IRON MAN

SOME STORIES OF THE OLD DAYS AS TOLD TO ME BY A TRUE


| November/December 1976



15700 Santini Road, Burtonsville, Maryland20730.

Not long ago I wrote a story for the Iron Men Album about my grandfather, Mr. B. C. Beall, a true old time Iron Man. At the time I remarked that some of the stories he told of his adventures would make a story in themselves. Well, here are some of them. He was born in September, 1884, an only son. There were several boys born to the family, but he was the only one to live, along with 4 sisters. His father was a poor man and as an only son, the chores at home fell to him at a young age. After the third grade he was kept at home to help his mother and sisters.

One of his chores was to hoe the very large garden which was needed to supply the family with fresh vegetables and such for canning for the winter. This worked okay with one small hitch...every time a steam whistle was heard in the distance, a hoe was found in the garden, but no little boy. This was taken care of when his father got home that evening by a trip to the woodshed for the usual corporal punishment. The next morning he would be back in the garden. That is, until somebody blew a steam whistle. Results, one hoe, no boy, and another trip to the woodshed.

It wasn't long until he could not be kept in the garden at all. His first job was as a helper in the boiler room of a nearby cotton shirt factory. As he was hired as a helper, his main job was cleaning and helping the engineer with repairs. As a rule, the engineer took a short coffee break in the morning. He would send my grandfather to the back door of a nearby establishment with a small water pail. The cold-foaming beverage which filled the bucket seemed to be an excellent appetizer for lunch. After a couple of days two buckets were used, but the engineer got only one. I wonder what happened to the other one?

Due to his love of steam, my grandfather was a rapid learner and was soon able to hold down the fort by himself if need be. This was fortunate, as the engineer liked to visit a nearby establishment with swinging doors. His lunch break usually ended about 5:00, as he staggered back to the boiler room to check out for the night. As a rule, my grandfather, wound up filling the boilers and banking the fires for the night. It was while on this job that he met a young seamstress who worked at the mill. About three or four years later they were united for life.

This job lasted only a short while, and then my grandfather hired out to a man who had several traction engines, threshers and sawmills. He was known to everybody as 'Uncle Lewis' Wotten. My grandfather helped Uncle Lewis run threshers and sawmills and was soon running an outfit for him alone. About 1910, they unloaded a brand new Geiser Mill and stored it as threshing season was about to begin. Three or four years later he was to buy it from Uncle Lewis, along with a thresher and engine and go in business for himself. While working with Uncle Lewis he had a colored helper nicknamed Uncle Dennis. On one occasion as they ascended 9th Street hill nearby Laurel, my grandfather looked back and saw Uncle Lewis approaching in his horse and buggy. He and Uncle Dennis did not want the contents of one of the tool boxes to be found, as Uncle Lewis was a very religious teetotaler. When Uncle Dennis said