Driving home from the Post office the other day I observed a Edison Eletric Company crew at work. One lane of the street was closed to accommodate the fleet of trucks being used to complete the task at hand. I counted four large trucks with high lift buckets, and a assortment of support vehicles. All four buckets were in the air at two different poles. Now let me say I have a lot of respect for the guys that go aloft in these contraptions. In the days before I had to quit work I learned how to opperare these things and went as high as forty feet off the ground in the sixty footer we had at work. It can be un-nerving to be that high offf the ground in a small steel cage. And no matter how stable the base with the outriggers the basket still bounces with every movement you make. Any way the direction this is going is back fifty_nine years to my child-hood.
While living with my Uncle Luther for a while in my ninth year I watched a Electric Company employee preform much the same task as the more modern fellows were doing under much different circumstances. My Uncles house had a alley running beside it and a power pole was positioned right next to the cornor of the back porch. One day a couple of guys showed up, parked their truck and began unloading a few items of tools and materials. Then the first workman placed some metal straps that passed under his insteps of his boots forming a sturp with a longer arm that reached almost to his knee up his inner leg. this was held in place by leather straps that wrapped around his legs and buckled tightly into place. At the lower position of the inner brace at the instep was a sharp spike angled out and down. Once this was in place he secured a heavy leather belt around his waist with a large steel ring secured to each side of the belt. Then taking a second heavy leather strap with large clanps on each end the threw one end around the power pole and secured each end to his belt. To my amazed nine year old eyes he flipped the belt strap up the pole as high as he could and leaned back and drove the spike on one side into the pole then steping higher up the pole drove the othe spike highr. by alternatly leaning to the pole to flip the strap higher then leaning back he proceeded to climp the pole to near the top.
Once he was in position he settled both spikes deeply into place then using a rope he had secured to his belt he pulled up a canvas bucket of tools his co-worker tied to the other end. I sat facinated as he used a Brace and long bit to drill a large hole completly through the pole. When he finished drilling the hole his fellow worked had put on the same type of climbing equiptment and proceeded to join him at the top to the pole. Again using a rope the second worker had brought up with him they both pulled up a cross brace and positioned it over the hole, inserted a long bolt and secured it in to place. The cross brace already had the short post mounted on it so then from the bucket they proceeded to screw the glass insulators in place. Having finished they descended and moved on down the ally to the next pole to continue their days work. A few weeks later another crew came along and using the same climbing tatics pulled wires into place and wired them to the insulators to string new power lines to service the groing town. It simply struck me how much time has changed to do the same job.
Now as a fascinated kid I always wanted to try the climbing equipment. My Step Grandfather Christman did not get electricity available to his farm until nine-teen -fifty-two.. The power people put a pole near the edge of the road where the long drive came up the hill to the house and installed a light with a metal shade over it. Once while I was there the light bulb burned out. I wondered if Grandad would have to have the power people come and change it for him. when Grandad got ready he simply went to the junk-tool shed and dug out a pair of these contraptions (I know the name of them but cannot dredge it out of my memory), along with one of the belts. He quickly scaled the pole and changed the bulb. I so badly wanted to try the equipment out but of course my twellve year old wishes were not granted. The variety of equipment that old man had was amazing. I could probably write a article of what I stood in the door of that shed and wondered at.
Anyway thanks for dropping in, ramblingbob