MORE EXPERIENCES OF AN OLD TIME IRON MAN


| January/February 1978



Bunny

My grandfather, Bernie ''Bunny'' Beall, left and Benny Hobbs, on a sawmill job near Burtonsville, Maryland, middle 1920s. Mill is a friction feed, rack and pinion carriage used 1914 to 1956.

213 Supont Avenue, Seaside Heights, New Jersey 08751

Recently I wrote of some of the experiences of my grandfather, a true Iron Man. I said I would write again and tell some more if I didn't get too many complaints, so here goes.

On one threshing job, he was being assisted by another thresher man, who was known as a character. One Saturday night it was necessary to stay over the weekend on a farm where the only accommodations were the loft of the barn. After the evening meal, my grandfather and his friend, Jim, were discussing what to do. Jim suggested that they clean up and go calling on a neighboring farmer who had two young daughters. After my grandfather's objection that they did not have clean clothes was overruled by Jim, it was agreed to go. Jim suggested that they purchase two new overall jackets at the nearby general store, and this would be sufficient. Jim who was quite large about the waist to say the least, bought the largest jacket in the store, and after a couple of grunts it was fastened. The visit was made and they were escorted into the company of the young ladies. Since everyone went to bed early, even on Saturday nights, the farmer entered the room where they were sitting about 9:30. With raised eyebrows he said, 'Young men, it is about bed time.' To this Jim replied, 'Yes, sir, we know, we were just waiting for someone to show us where to go.' The farmer, with equal calm replied, 'Very well, young men, follow me.' After a good night's sleep between white sheets and in a feather bed followed by a good breakfast, they returned to the crew, and many looks of jealousy.

Jim was always known as quite a comedian, as was his brother, John. One day in later years someone asked him if his youngest son was learning anything in school, Jim promptly replied, 'Yes, sir, badness.' One time the boy came into the local general store chewing away on something. The boy was about eight at the time, and was asked by the storekeeper, 'What are you chewing, Little Jim?' Little Jim spit in the spittoon and said, 'What in the (bleep) do you think I'm chewing?'

On another occasion, my grandfather was threshing for a man who was notorious for being difficult to collect bills from. When the job was done, and while the men were getting the thresher ready to move to the next farm, my grandfather and the farmer argued over the payment of the bill. Terms were finally agreed on for payment in the future, and my grandfather hooked up to the thresher and moved on to the next farm. During the time the two men had been arguing, and despite the presence of a couple of the farmer's hired hands, my grandfather's crew had been busy. When they arrived at the next farm and began to uncover the thresher, the men began to hand down an assortment of picks and shovels, axes, lanterns, etc. They made the remark that this was one year the farmer had payed his bill. despite my grandfather's worst fears, nothing was heard from the farmer, but in future years he always paid his bill on the spot.

During slack seasons, my grandfather worked for numerous contractors, state and county road departments, etc., mostly as a road roller operator. Some of his experiences along these lines were also good ones. On one job he was rolling newly laid blacktop, when he suddenly stopped the roller. The foreman, who was quick tempered and not too experienced, immediately wanted to know why. My grandfather tried to explain to him that a dark spot in the road ahead might indicate a leaking water main close to the surface. He advised the foreman to wait until a lighter roller caught up and have the lighter roller roll it. The foreman flew into a rage and ordered my grandfather to roll it. On the first pass the roller broke through and broke a water main. He then banked the fire in disgust and told the foreman there it was and he could do as he pleased with it. He then got in his car and went back to the contractor's office and told the company owner what had happened. He then said, 'I guess I might as well draw my pay as I guess I'm fired.' The contractor replied, 'I do the firing and hiring, not the foreman.' He then turned to his secretary and said, 'Give Mr. Beall a pair of shears and let him trim the hedge around the office while we see what happens.' Soon the foreman arrived and entered the office spitting fire without seeing my grandfather. He soon departed quite a bit quieter. My grandfather was then called inside and told to return to the job and get the roller out and go on back to work. This he did, but the foreman was never seen again.