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Demolition Days. Part 3.
Every summer, there was this massive migration of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in our great lake.
Since perch taste great, are a blast to catch, relatively easy to clean and have a bag limit of 50 per person per day; these drew fishermen to the big water like iron filings to a magnet.
As well as local kids learning to be fishermen.
So Ricky, Ike, Ronny and I would often gear up our bikes to head down to the lake.
Rip didn’t like riding a bike, as he tended to fall over a lot, and we didn’t like Rance; who, besides being a first-class asshole, for some reason or another, had been keeping his distance for the last year or so.
My Grandfather had customized all our bicycles in his tool and die shop. He had special holders built for our fishing rods, as well as brackets for our tackle boxes, special four-foot (quadruped, not length) fold-away kickstands, and carry hooks for our bait/catch buckets; all welded in specially selected strategic places.
Plus, he had all the welds polished and had sandblasted each one of our bicycles. He had his ‘head’ shop painter, a real marijuana aficionado, but damned good at what he did; give them incredibly funky 60’s-esque, 8-coats of hand-rubbed lacquer, paint jobs.
They were so fucking cool. They were the envy of the whole neighborhood.
Grandpa noted: “You guys would carry so much shit down to the lake, you wouldn’t be able to see where the fuck you were going. And I’m not about to have to go to the North Pier and fish your soggy asses out. Now you can all ride down to the lake safely with all your gear secured. Then use your goddamned bikes to hold your fuckin’ fishin’ rods. I’m tired of fixing broken tips.”
See, we had this slight problem when a wayward trout or salmon would occasionally grab our baits. Perch top out at about a pound, and prized jumbos at about a pound-and-a-half. King Salmon and Lake Trout can go beyond 50 pounds and swim at 40 knots. They’d hit so hard, they’d not set the hook, they’d just take your rod for a swim or if you could grab it before it went ballistic, snap off the tip when you go to set the hook.
Grandpa somehow knew affixing our rods in stable holders would automatically set the hook when these bruisers swam by and gulped our minnows. We could then play and retrieve our fish while keeping our fishing rods intact. Hence our custom-built bicycle-rod holders.
Grandpa called dibs on every Laker or King we caught; he even took the 14 pound Rainbow Trout Ike pulled in one time.
He took us all out on the lake one day in his Boston Whaler expressly to teach us how to correctly handle and process fish. He wanted to make certain what we brought back was clean, good and edible.
He’d then take those fish we caught and applewood smoked them.
Fucking piscine ambrosia.
After all he did for us, we at least owed him this.
Then one particular day; a normal balmy, lazy, sunny northern day, turned out to be anything but.
Since we were just kids, of course, we couldn’t afford a boat. Beach fishing sucked with all that wind and flying sand. We didn’t want to fish in the boat docks, as we’d always get our asses tossed for being on “Private Property”.
“Private Property” around a Great Lake? Who came up with this shit?
But there was always the North and South Piers.
These were parallel concrete constructions that formed the mouth of the city harbor. They jut out perpendicularly from the shore; the North Pier some 850 meters, the South some 1100 meters. There was the “Breakwater” out another 500 or 600 meters that ran perpendicular to the piers that was built to keep sand, mud, silt, and other lacustrine schmoo out of the mouth of the harbor.
The harbor went inland some 2 kilometers (~1 mile) to the Turning Basin, which then did a 90-degree turn around Serta Island (really a peninsula, if you get all geomorphological about it) where all the commercial and private boat slips existed.
We would ice fish in the harbor in the dead of winter; when the Turning Basin was often dotted like a well-used dairy cow pasture with fishing shanties and shacks galore.
In the early, early Spring, we would smelt-dip in the boat slips, before the asshole boaters brought their boats out of storage and up from (snarling derisively as possible) “Down South”.
But summer belonged to the piers.
When not fishing from them, we’d be swimming from them. Of course, all of our parents would have collectively freaked it they knew what we were up to out on the piers.
The piers stood some 15 feet (~3m) about the calm water lever. Depending on where you were on the pier, the water depth was from zero to around 45 feet (~8m) out by the lighthouse end. If you swam out to the breakwater, you’d be crossing a channel dredged for the big iron and cement boats what was over 75 feet (~25m) deep.
Like depth matters...”if water was over your head, you’ll drown no matter the depth”, was an old lake adage. “That lake is a killer.” was another.
But not for our crowd.
We were born, raised and lived around water. Lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks; didn’t matter, they were all swimmin’ holes to us. We all learned to swim early. We swam like fish, hell, we were all part fish.
Take for instance our favorite game: we’d all ride out to the very end of the North Pier.
We’d bring along an old junker bike Ike had in his garage and about 150 feet of rope. We’d tie one end of that rope to the support for the massive North Pier lighthouse and the other end to Ike’s old junker bike’s seat post.
We’d ride as fast as we could off the end of the North Pier and sail off into the deep.
We’d bail off the bike before the rope grew taut; so it’d just drop, tethered, to the bottom of the lake. We, on the other hand, would describe stunning soaring arcs, and points were awarded on flips, twists, and belly-flops before and during at the moment of impact.
Then we’d swim back to the pier, climb up, haul the old junker up on the pier so the next idiot had their turn.
Imagine something like that happening today.
Of the two piers, the North was by far our favorite. It had easy ride-on access, and this weird 15 foot (~5m) tall elevated steel walkway. It was expressly forbidden by the Coast Guard for anyone but them to venture topside, so we were up there all the time…you could see for miles and miles up and down the coast.
The pier itself was big enough for everyone who wanted to fish to have their own spot. Even during the height of the frenzied perch run, I remember thick crowds, but never as much as a crossed line or cross word about it being congested.
The elevated walkway provided some bit of shelter during the ever-popular “where the fuck did that come from” instant-on, lake-effect summer thunderstorm. It even made shade for that part of the day when the sun was at just the right angle.
The South Pier, although longer, was slightly newer, and not nearly as wide. To access it, one had to negotiate through our scary and dark downtown, across the ‘Bridge Over the River Nothing’ (an ancient railroad bridge), past the old lake-front stadium, down behind the local auto factory car lot and past the dick-headed local auto factory Rent-a-Cops.
If one survived that gauntlet, you then had to shinny up the side of the pier, as it was at least 20 feet (~6m) above the level of the lot. After dragging your bike and gear up the side of the pier, you had to ride, carefully, out to the end to get to the deeper water.
The pier was obviously a lowest-bidder job as the concrete was already cratering in places and if one wasn’t very careful, you could break a rim or end up in the drink.
So imagine our outrage that fine summer’s day when we cycled up and found that our pier had been closed.
“How the fuck can someone close a whole fucking pier?” howled Ricky.
Similar notes of outrage were echoed by each of us.
Parked on the beach, immediately proximate to the pier, were several commercial vehicles.
Surveyor’s trucks, contractor’s trucks, one from some local engineering firm, and another from a concrete company.
There were also some non-commercial vehicles: one from the Coast Guard, another from the state Department of Natural Resources, one from the local news-rag, and one from the United States Geological Survey.
Evidently, there was some real serious shit about to go down.
I needed to investigate. This was grave.
Ricky, Ronny, and Ike all decided that they’d had enough of this.
They all elected to bike to the other side of town and try fishing out under the McDermott spillway. It was just a large pond where the raceway from a local creek behind the cement works dumped; but it was a secluded, secret, and a bluegill and bass productive little fishing hole.
“You guys go on ahead. I want to find out what the hell’s going on around here.” I said.
“Rocko the scientist.” Ronnie snorted.
All the rest had a good snicker on my behalf, said “Later!” and took off due west.
I hung around the crowd of adults gathered on the beach, trying to figure out what was happening.
“It poses a danger to navigation”.
“It’s too old to renovate, needs to be removed.”
“The new pier will be a much better design, and will last 100 years.”
Holy fuck! They were talking about destroying our cherished North Pier.
I eased in closer to eavesdrop a little better.
I didn’t care for what I heard.
“Hey. You. Kid. Get the fuck out of here. This is a closed construction site.”
“Yeah, you. Go home. Piss off. You don’t belong here.”
What?!? I was outraged. I’ve lived in this town my whole life. I’ve spent more time on that pier than most of you assholes wanting to destroy it. I most certainly deserved to be here.
“I just want to know what is going to happen to the pier. That’s where my buddies and I go fishing.”
“Well, not for the next 6 or 8 months. Go on, get the hell out of here. Scram.”
With a heavy heart, I pedaled over to my Grandpa’s Tool and Die shop. I was always welcome there.
“Grandpa. I can’t believe it. They’ve closed the North Pier and they say they’re going to destroy it. They can’t do that, can they?”
Grandpa, the sage of the ages, sat me down and explained what was going on.
“I thought you heard. The North Pier was built way back before World War One. It’s old and falling apart. The walkway’s too dangerous and the Coast Guard wants to get rid of it.”
“They’re going to take down the walkway?!?” I indignantly yelled.
“Yep. It costs too much for the Coast Guard to safeguard and keep in service. Since that has to go, they did some surveys and found the old pier has some serious structural problems. The base is being undercut, there’s been some carving done by the longshore sand. Remember we talked about how there’s a river of sand that moves along the lake coast, feeding the beaches and keeping them renewed?”
“Yeah, I remember you telling me that. So, what does that have to do with them destroying the pier?”
“Well, that sand has been eating at the base of the pier, cutting that shitty old concrete like butter. Then it plugs up the baffles under the pier so no more sand flows along the beach. The beaches down the coast starve, erode away and beach cliffs collapse. That underwater pile of sand pushes on the bottom of the pier, shattering that shitty old concrete like peanut brittle; just making us wait for the day it all collapses into a pile of busticated rocks.”
“Really?” I was incredulous.
“Afraid so, Rocko. It’s unfortunate, but it’s necessary. But think, when this is all over, there’ll be a brand spanking new North Pier.”
“I don’t care”, I snarled, “I like the old North Pier.”
“Now just hold the fuck on here. That’s no way to look at this. You like science and all that shit. Think about it. If they leave it, sure, you’ll have your old pier; but for how much longer? It’ll be unsafe, could just collapse at any moment and it fucks up the beaches and cliffs down shore for miles. Now think, is that what you really want for our lake?”
[Pause to ponder] “No. You’re right. We have to look at this scientifically.”
“And” continued Grandpa, with a cat-that-got-the-canary grin”, “there’s something else you haven’t considered. How will they remove the old pier to make way for the new one?”
[Pause to ponder once more] “I’m not sure I know what you mean…”
“How do we remove rocks and boulders on the farm? Do we dig them out?”
[Pause for the HOLY SHIT lightbulb-popping moment] “No! They’re going to blast it out?”
“Got it in one. Now, if one were to go down there and hang around, keeping out from underfoot, just tell them you’re there to observe and learn; and ask some serious questions…”
“Thanks, Grandpa. You always have the right answers.”
I had a new life’s mission.
Every day until school started, I’d pedal down to the North Pier and just hang around. Out of the way, not be underfoot and just observe.
I also went to the local Nautical Museum to find out any historical information on the North Pier.
When it was built, how it was built, who built it, that sort of intel.
I slowly ingratiated myself to the workers doing the demo on the pier. I’d ask anyone questions about the pier: what their plans were, what they were doing, how they were going to go on about doing it.
Also, with my bicycle, I was mobile. So when a welder needed a pack of cigarettes or a couple of cigars, I’d instantly volunteer to ride to the shop and get some for him.
Remember, this was the 60s and times were a bit more relaxed.
If someone forgot their lunch, I’d hightail it over to McWilliams diner car and get take-out brats and burgers for the hungry workers.
Also, on Fridays, I was sent to my cousin Blinky’s bar uptown to pick up a half-dozen growlers (big personalized refillable beer bottles) and drag them back for the thirsty workers when their shifts ended.
It took a while, but eventually, I wore them down.
“Hey, kid. What the hell’s your name, anyways?” one welder asked when I brought him a couple of Claro cigars, the ones like my Grandpa enjoyed.
“It’s Rocko. Everyone calls me Rocko.”
“Rocko? What the hell kind of name is that?”
“Well, I always have liked dinosaurs and rocks. That’s what my Grandpa calls me and it just sort of stuck.”
“No shit? Fuck. Come over here, Rocko, let me show you the plans for the pier.”
Ha! I’m in!
They took me on as an unofficial mascot and go-fer.
Need some Red Lead? Tell Rocko to go-fer it.
Need a spalling hammer? Tell Rocko to go-fer it.
Need a pack of smokes or a growler? Tell Rocko to go-fer it.
This went on for quite some time, until one fateful day.
“Hey, Rocko, did you hear? “
“No, Jonesy (the welder), what?”
“They put off the demolition until after the new year. Gonna let everything freeze up so we can drill the pier and set charges more easily.”
“Yep. Looks like it’s going to happen when school’s’ out for winter break.”
“Cool. Can I come down and…?”
“Of course you can. But before that, you’re going to have to learn what we’re going to do and how to do it safely.”
I was introduced to Jerry Baker (“Big Jer”), the huge (2+ m, 200+ kg) local demolition contractor and blaster. This was the first time, since learning from my Grandfather that I’d be taught by an actual professional practitioner of the craft.
“Jerry? This here’s Rocko. He’s our apprentice. He’s here to help and he wants to learn. Can he tag along with you for a while?”
“Rocko, ‘eh? What kind of… Wait a fuckin’ minute, you’re not related to old man [my grandfather] are you? He does all my tool fabricating and maintenance for me.”
“He’s my Grandpa,” I replied proudly.
“Well, no shit? Sure, he can tag along, he looks like he’s not the least bit work-shy.”
The next day was a day I’ll never, ever forget.
Big Jer presented me with my own tin hat! It was the reddest red a red tin hat’s ever been redded.
With “ROCKO” stenciled right upfront in white.
“You gonna be on site, you gonna suit up. You need to get a pair of work boots (I had some at home already) and you’re gonna need coveralls so everyone knows you’re supposed to be here.”
He tosses me some bright red coveralls with the huge “Bakers’ Blasting” logo embroidered across the back and my name upfront.
I still have these artifacts.
I skipped school every chance I got to go down to the lake. School was a doddle for me at this point so I just made sure to show up on test days and still make the grade.
Even my Grandfather ran interference for me with my parents and school. When they got all twitchy about me missing school, he pointed out my test scores and told them that I’m earning practical experience.
“He’s learning more by doing than sitting in some fucking classroom.” noted my Grandfather.
No one argues with my Grandfather.
Big Jer was a mountain of a man, but clever as a man with two heads. Most people thought him to be slow and stupid thanks to his size, low voice, and easy-going manner. But, when they saw him pick up a roll of rebar with one hand and a K-12 gas-powered cutting saw with the other, they kept their opinions to themselves. No one gave us the tiniest amount of shit about my being on the worksite.
He showed me, hell, he trained me how to use a jackhammer. He schooled me on how to examine and measure up a concrete slab to determine where shot holes had to go so the slab would drop exactly where he wanted it dropped. He gave me my first real scientific training and insight into structural engineering, demolition, and the strength of materials.
Also, he provided me my first real training in the industrial application of blasting and demolition.
He was impressed that I already knew a fair amount about blasting; the tools of the trade, the differences in types of common explosives, and most importantly, job site safety.
“Well, fer fuck’s sake, you’re related to [my Grandfather]. It figures you’d already know a bunch about all this shit,” he complimented me one day.
“I ought to have you hold a course and teach these idiots”, as he passed a huge meat hook hand over the crowd, “about safety and shit you’re not supposed to do.”
Greater praise had never before been uttered.
Time progressed and eventually, during the discussion about the upcoming D-Day (“Demolition Day”), the crowd didn’t even as much as titter when Big Jer asked:
“Has Rocko been consulted on the shot placements and timing?”
The steel walkway was to go first. Welders and cutters had swarmed the structure, weakening it in selected strategic places. I was then invited to go in with Big Jer and start setting the charges.
“Well, Rocko. What so you think? All at once? “
“Nahh, Big Jer. This has to be a time-delay series or it’ll tear up the surface of the pier when it rips out the supports. We need the pier clear for the drilling machines, and that’d make for one fuck of a mess and one I wouldn’t want to have to clean up.”
Jerry smiled broadly at my choice of terminology and concurred.
“Yep. We’ll start down by the lighthouse and shoot the legs out from under it there first. We’ll make sure it keels over on the lake side and not the harbor side. That’d be a cast-iron motherfucker to retrieve.”
I grinned at Big Jer’s choice of terminology and concurred.
We spent most of the day with Jerry’s crew attaching the charges to the legs that supported the walkway, in just the right orientation. Come to find out, even though it looked rusted and spindly, the thing weighed in excess of several thousand tons. This was nut-cuttin’ time.
“Hey, Rocko. What’ll happen if we have a misfire?”
“We first check our circuits with the galvanometer. That way we make sure we won’t have any misfires.”
“Right. But what happens if we got some shitty charges from those assholes over at the munitions plant? That happens, y’know.”
“Really?” This was news to me. “What can we do?”
“We’re gonna cable together some of the sections so as that as one goes as planned, it’ll pull the livin’ fuck out of the next section. If that section misfires, gravity will help do our job and put enough stress on it so when the next shot down the line fires, the whole caboodle will just keel over.”
“Fuckin-A, ‘cool’. Go to the store-shed and get a shitload of brundies (mechanical cable ties), some wrenches and haul ass back here. I’ll start laying out the cable.”
I went and grabbed the necessary parts and tools and hightailed it back to the job site.
Big Jer and his crew were already cutting lengths of ¾” wire rope. He showed me how to wrap the legs of the structure and secure them with the brundies.
“Got to keep these fuckers tight. They’re going to take a load of stress and we don’t want any loose cables snaking around. It’ll cut you right half in two.”
That really got my attention.
An hour or so later, we were doing the pre-shot walk-through. Big Jer carried a short-standard, kind of like a steroidal baseball bat, and gave each coupling a solid whack.
“They all gotta sing the same song. That one sounds off-key. Hand me that cheater.”
A few quick clicks of the wrench and that joint sang soprano, like just all the others.
“OK, we’re good to go. As you said, let’s police the area as we get off this pier. Don’t want to catch a loose pair of pliers in the forehead.”
My smile grew even wider.
Back at base, Big Jer did a headcount, found it tallied, and told everyone to get behind something solid.
“We’re going live in 1 minute. Rocko, hit the horn three times.”
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” x3.
Big Jer just about knocked the bottom out of the ratchet-operated blasting machine.
“Wait for it.” Big Jer advised.
He had used some delay-caps to begin, so every charge had the exact same mixture.
Pwoomph! Pwoomph! Pwoomph! Pwoomph! Pwoomph! Pwoomph!
One after another, the legs were kicked out from under the walkway, and in a slow, stately sequence, the walkway keeled over; one section after another, right into the lake.
It was poetry in motion.
“Well, I like that!” Jer grinned.
He grabbed my hand in his huge mitt and shook it soundly.
“Congratulations. We made it! You just graduated.”
That was my first real demolition job under my belt. I thought I couldn’t be more proud.
The crews all loped out to the wreckage, some from shore, some in boats, and attached cables to the ruined walkway. This was so the big winch trucks on shore could start hauling the stuff in to be cut up and removed.
“There’s one job done, now comes the big one.”
It was going to take some weeks to clear the debris and drill the necessary shot-holes for the charges that would take out our pier. I decided that I should probably go back to school for a while until things got more interesting.
“Big Jer? Yeah, I should probably get back to school for a while. Can you handle it without me?”
Big Jer busts out laughing, “I think we can handle things here for a while. I’ll call your Grandfather and give him plenty of notice when we’re going to be blasting what’s left of the pier. Looks like it’ll be during Winter Break. How’s that?”
“Great. Thanks. See you then.”
The next few weeks passed by in a desultory manner. All I could think about was getting back on the job. However, some of my schoolmate’s seemed rather impressed with my goings-on over the last few months.
“Did you really work with Jerry Baker on the North Pier?”
“Fuckin-A, Buckwheat. I helped set and prime the charges for the walkway.”
“Really? Is that why you weren’t in school?”
“Yep. On the job training.”
“Cool. Think I could…”
This was my gig and no one was going to get a piece of this pie.
Christmas came and went and I still hadn’t heard from Big Jer.
“I wonder if everything’s OK.” I fretted like an old mother hen. Besides, Winter Break was going to be over in just two more weeks.
Finally, my Grandfather drops by and tells me to “Suit up. They need you down at the pier.”
It’s happening. It’s really happening.
My Grandfather drives me down to the pier in his huge Rocket 88. Cold weather never bothered me, but this gave him an excuse to show up and nose around.
There was a considerable change in scenery since I last left. The old lighthouse had been dismantled, piece by piece, and removed. The beach was scoured of all shite and schmoo and there were a good 3 feet of ice on the lake, sealing in the old pier.
Big Jer greeted us warmly. Coffee laced with Korbel brandy for everyone else, and hot chocolate for me.
We were led into the war room where a detailed blueprint schematic of the pier was laid out. There were push-pins of all different colors dotting the schematic. Each one denoted charge placement, type, and delays.
“Rocko, whaddya think?” Big Jer asked as he pointed to the table.
“Looks like a single event. Going to be a slow-motion explosion again, right?”
“Yep. A staged series of explosions, but there’s a new wrinkle I don’t think you’ve heard of yet.”
“What’s that? “ I asked.
“We’re using some detonating explosives as well as some deflagrating explosives.”
“Detonating explosives give us a sharp shock. They ‘blow up’ as most would say, throwing shit everywhere. Deflagrating explosives instead heave material and break it up, more or less in place.”
“Hmmm. OK, I think I understand.”
My Grandfather continues: “They’re going to use deflagrating explosives, ANFO (ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel) it appears, to blast the top part of the pier, the part that’s not underwater. Then, when that settles, they’ll use that as a blast cover. Then it’ll be C-4, Pyrodex III, and straight-run dynamite to blast the part that underwater. Can’t use ANFO underwater, that shit don’t work wet.”
Big Jer grins, “Just a chip off the old block, ‘eh Rocko?”
I had to laugh, no one I knew ever spoke about my Grandfather that way.
“That’s right” Big Jer continues, “The ice will hold everything like a form and the top cover will keep shit from flying all over the place and give people reasons to sue me for new windows.”
Practical as well as informative.
“We’re just about done with the galv (checking connections). We should be going live here within the hour.”
“Has anyone done a walkthrough yet?”
“That’s why I was waiting on you. Let’s go take a walk. We need to set a final few charges. That is, you are going to set them.”
“Can my Grandfather come along?”
“Of course, the more eyes and hands, the better.” Big Jer smiled.
We all ambled down the rocky, torn up surface of the pier. There was no walkway, no lighthouse, there were no familiar landmarks. Just holes, wires running everywhere, and piles of rock cuttings. It was like walking on the moon.
Grandpa kicks a sizeable chunk of rotten concrete into the lake.
“There’s one that won’t bother anyone but the fishes,” he noted.
Charges set, wires tied in, galvanometer checked again; we walk back, mostly in silence.
We’re going to be the last people on the planet to ever walk on this pier. It made me feel all squidgy inside and I couldn’t say why.
We get back to base and Big Jer looks at the tote board. Everyone has toted back in, all charges checked, double-checked, and checked again.
Big Jer grabs a megaphone.
“Listen up people. We’re go for show in 15 minutes. Clear your stations and police your areas again. I don’t want anything loose to become a missile. You have 10 minutes to sign back in and get comfy. Make me late for the show and Rocko and his Grandfather here will be most disappointed. That would anger me. And we don’t want that to happen.”
A rousing chorus of “Yes, Sir!” resounded. No one in their right mind wanted to delay or anger Big Jer; especially today.
Near a quarter-hour later, we’re all out on the beach, slowly freezing in the -25O F January weather. The wind was calm, thankfully. We were all about 300 meters or so away from the pier, behind makeshift blast shields: dump trucks, pick-ups, etc.
There was a fairly sizeable cable snaking up toward where we were all situated.
“That’s the blast line. So many charges, no blasting machine could supply enough juice to set them all off. That’s why we have this generator and blasting board.”
The trailer mounter generator was purring along, as Big Jer connects the blast board to the generator. He ran the galv one last time and tied the charges into the board, which was basically a series of variable time-delay switches actuated by a single, large, shiny red button.
“Sorry, Rocko. I wish I could let you handle the board, but I’d get in a world of shit with the state since you don’t have your license yet. (More foreshadowing?) But maybe your Grandfather would like to give’r a go…?”
Grandpa grins: “I’d like that very much.”
Big Jer hands me the air horn.
“Three times, Mr. Rocko, if you’d be so kind,”
“Mr. Rocko’s Grandfather. The call, if you would.”
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” x3.
Big Jer smiles: “3…2…1 HIT IT!”
[Sound of the big shiny red button being depressed]
whoomph whoomph whoomph whoomph whoomph whoomph
The top of the venerable old pier looks like a carpet being shaken out, it jumps up, and then it settles right back in place.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Small geysers of water erupt from the sides of the old pier. The ice on the lake side, a meter thick in places, does a buck-and-wing and flexes like a big, icy flexing thing.
There are few waves generated on the ice-free harbor side, but all the blasted concrete stays within the corrugated iron caissons which formed its sides.
Everyone just stands there, taking it all in.
Big Jer is all teeth…a grin a meter wide, it seems.
“Is that it?” I asked, “Is that all?”
Big Jer and my Grandfather, in unison: “Wait for it.”
Hours, actually minutes, later, there’s a WHOOSH like a cosmic fart; the pier heaves, sighs, and slips vertically beneath the icy waves.
“Ah, ha! That’s it!” Big Jer yells. “Couldn’t be better. Time for a toast!”
The job was done. All that remained is for the Army Corps of Engineers to ship a barge-mounted crane out here and dig out all the shattered concrete debris that was once my favorite fishing spot.
Then the job of building North Pier Mark 2 could begin.
Killing the generator and leaving his crews to police up all the assorted job-related paraphernalia, Big Jer summons both me and my Grandfather into his exclusive trailer.
This was a paramount honor. No one, short of someone getting their ass brutally kicked off location, was ever allowed into Big Jer’s trailer.
It was a combination office-home Airstream trailer. Big Jer told me he sometimes lived in this trailer on site, for weeks during some really hairy jobs. He said this was, in his words, “a piece of piss”, but interesting since he had an apprentice for the very first time.
He also said he rather enjoyed it. He was going to talk to the local schools to see about setting up a work-apprentice program for other like-minded local kids.
“If that’s OK with you Rocko?”
“Oh, yes sir. That’d be great.”
Big Jer smiled warmly, produced a key and opened a panel in the trailer’s wall.
“That’s a mighty fine bar you’ve got there, Jer. Well stocked.” noted my Grandfather.
“Thanks. I think it’ll serve for this special occasion.”
Both my grandfather and I looked curiously at Big Jer.
“Your pleasure, Mr. Rocko’s Grandfather?”
“Rye whiskey, neat.”
Big Jer pours my Granddad a generous snort and opens the humidor on his desk.
Big Jer hands my Grandfather a drink and one of his favorite smokes.
Big Jer pours himself a large double bourbon, grabs a cigar and sinks into his massive leather chair.
I am left standing there, feeling like an idiot.
“Rocko, help yourself to anything you want. There's soft drinks in the fridge in the kitchen.”
“Unless you want a rye whiskey…” chuckles Big Jer.
“Sure, why the hell not?” I immediately reply.
Big Jer smiles, and looks over to Grandpa, already enjoying his drink and smoke.
“Well, you are kin? What say?”
With a strong and steady voice, my Grandfather says, loudly and clearly:
“I say if some sumbitch can handle fucking dynamite then I say that sumbitch can have whatever the fuck he wants to drink.”
He continues, much more quietly: “As long as that sumbitch says nothing about it to his parents.”
“Zip-a-lock”, as I pantomime zipping my lip and throwing away the key.
We all laugh as Big Jer grabs a glass and liberally pours in about 25 milliliters of rye whiskey.
“Here you go, you old sumbitch.” He snickers.
Truth be told, I powered through that drink and didn’t even cough once or turn luridly green. Everyone, including myself, was impressed.
They drew the lines at cigars, though. That was going to be saved for later.
We sat around and I listened, with rapt attention, to old war stories, old blasting stories and old “no fucking way” stories.
We needed to head back home, but Big Jer holds up a massive paw and states:
“Nope. Wait a minute. Got something for you here.”
He hands me a thick manila envelope.
Inside was a framed certificate of Blasting Apprenticeship he had printed up and signed, just for me.
There was also a copy of the latest Blaster’s Tool and Supply Catalog.
There was also an old brass USGS benchmark from the North Pier. There was only one of these in existence and he was giving it to me.
I still have it. It’s been around the world with me.
Finally, there were 5 crisp, new $100 bills along with a personal letter from Big Jer stating if I ever wanted a job, I was to come and see him.
I don’t know if it was the whiskey, but I felt like crying.
But I didn’t. Real Blasters don’t cry.
About 6 months later, my Grandfather comes over to the house and tells me:
“Suit up, Big Jer called. He needs you down at the new North Pier.”
3 minutes later, I’m waiting on my Grandfather at his monstrous car.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” I ask impatiently.
We wheel on site and there’s Big Jer standing amidst a fleet of Ken-Crete trucks. They were making the last pour on the new pier and he wanted me here.
“Hi! Big Jer. I’m here. What’s up?”
“Get your ass over here, Rocko.”
Big Jer grins:
“Listen up, you assholes. That’s the way you respond to your boss.” He chuckles.
They’re just putting the last steel to the concrete footing of the new pier. It looks great. Smooth, slick, a brand-new lighthouse. Lifesaver-ring stations. The works.
Big Jer hands me a hunk of stiff wire.
“Get over there and put your name alongside all the rest. You helped build this pier, you deserve to sign your work.”
Grandpa gives me a slight shove. “Go on, you earned it.”
To this day, on the lower north side of the new North Pier, amongst the names of all the welders, masons, blasters, truckers, heavy equipment operators, Army Corps of Engineers engineers, and hired hands, there’s one that simply reads: “ROCKO”.
[H] 360 Games From Bundles [W] Paypal, Offers
I'm REALLY not into Zombie games, or any kind of horror games, so please don't offer those. If you've got something I can play around my kiddos, that would be great as well.
The only game I can think of that I really want is Super Mega Baseball 2. Bonus if you have PS4 keys
MOST OF THESE ARE AVAILABLE AS HUMBLE GIFTS, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM. PLEASE CHECK WITH ME FIRST IF YOU REQUIRE THAT.
|100% Orange Juice||Steam|
|7 Days to Die||Steam|
|Acceleration of SUGURI 2||Steam|
|Ace Combat Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition||Steam|
|American Truck Simulator||Steam|
|Among the Sleep - Enhanced Edition||Steam|
|Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition||Steam|
|Armoured Warfare E3 Pack|
|Assassin's Creed® Chronicles China||Uplay|
|Assassin's Creed® Chronicles India||Uplay|
|Assassin's Creed® Chronicles Russia||Uplay|
|Avadon: The Black Fortress Steam Key||Steam|
|Balloon Chair Death Match||Steam|
|BASEBALL STARS 2||Steam|
|Battle Chef Brigade||Steam|
|Bear With Me - Collector's Edition||Steam|
|Black Sails - The Ghost Ship||Steam|
|Black the Fall||Steam|
|Blade & Soul E3 Pack||Blade + Soul|
|Blades of Time - Limited Edition||Steam|
|Broken Sword 5: The Serpents Curse||Steam|
|Broken Sword Trilogy||Steam|
|Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box Origin Key||Origin|
|Castle Wars VR||Steam|
|Cogs Steam Key||Steam|
|Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Uprising Origin Key||Origin|
|Company of Heroes™ 2: German Commander - Storm Doctrine||Steam|
|Company of Heroes™ 2: German Skin - Four Color Disruptive Pattern||Steam|
|Company of Heroes™ 2: Soviet Commander - Conscripts Support Tactics||Steam|
|Company of Heroes™ 2: Soviet Skin - Four Color Belorussian||Steam|
|Crazy Machines 3||Steam|
|Cursed Castilla (Maldita Castilla EX)||Steam|
|Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition||Steam|
|Dead Island Definitive Edition||Steam|
|Dead Space Origin Key||Origin|
|Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut||Steam|
|Death Road to Canada||Steam|
|Directory Opus 12 Light||GPS Software|
|Distant Nightmare - Virtual reality||Steam|
|Duelyst - 20 Spirit Orbs||Duelyst|
|Duelyst - Cosmetics Bundle||Duelyst|
|Dungeons of Dredmor Complete||Steam|
|Endless Space Emperor Edition||Steam|
|Eufloria Steam Key||Steam|
|EVE Online: Rifter Ship Skin|
|E3 Digital Ticket|
|EVE Online: Trial Key|
|E3 Digital Ticket|
|EVEOnline 30-day Trial Access Code||EVE Online|
|EVEOnline 4 Ship Skins||EVE Online|
|Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered||Steam|
|Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes||Steam|
|Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location||Steam|
|Flat Kingdom Paper's Cut Edition||Steam|
|Freddi Fish Missing Kelp Seeds||Steam|
|Front Mission Evolved||Steam|
|Full Mojo Rampage||Steam|
|Funk of Titans||Steam|
|Galactic Civilizations Ultimate Edition||Steam|
|Galactic Civilizations Ultimate Edition||Steam|
|Game Corp DX||Steam|
|Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online: Exclusive E3 Digital Ticket Bundle||Steam|
|GOD EATER 2 Rage Burst||Steam|
|God Of Arrows VR||Steam|
|Gratuitous Space Battles Multiplayer Key||Multiplayer|
|Gratuitous Space Battles Multiplayer Key||Multiplayer|
|Gratuitous Tank Battles Multiplayer Key||Multiplayer|
|Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition||Steam|
|Guild of Dungeoneering||Steam|
|GUNS UP! Starter Pack + TV Head||GUNS UP!|
|Hard Reset Redux||Steam|
|Haegemonia: Legions of Iron||Steam|
|Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION)||Steam|
|Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy||Steam|
|Hand of Fate||Steam|
|Henry The Hamster Handler||Steam|
|Hero Academy Gold Pack Content Code|
|Hero Academy Gold Pack Content Code|
|HIVESWAP: Act 1||Steam|
|Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!||Steam|
|I am bread||Steam|
|Interplanetary: Enhanced Edition||Steam|
|KickBeat Steam Edition||Steam|
|Killing Floor - Chickenator DLC||Steam|
|Killing Floor - Community Weapon Pack 1 DLC||Steam|
|Killing Floor - Community Weapon Pack 2 DLC||Steam|
|Killing Floor - Community Weapon Pack 3 DLC||Steam|
|Kingdom: New Lands||Steam|
|Landmark 1-Week Closed Beta Key|
|Landmark 1-Week Beta|
|Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light||Steam|
|Lara Croft GO||Steam|
|Last Day of June||Steam|
|Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered||Steam|
|Life is Strange Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)||Steam|
|Machinarium Steam Key||Steam|
|Medal of Honor Origin Key||Origin|
|METAL SLUG 2||Steam|
|Mirror's Edge Origin Key||Origin|
|Monster Hunter Generations Demo||Nintendo 3DS|
|Monstercat Twitch License||Monstercat|
|Monument Builders - Alcatraz||Steam|
|Moto Racer Collection||Steam|
|Murdered: Soul Suspect||Steam|
|Mutant Mudds Deluxe||Steam|
|Neverwinter Adventurer's Helper Pack + Exclusive Lord of the Labyrinth Title||Neverwinter|
|Old Man's Journey||Steam|
|One Finger Death Punch||Steam|
|Organ Trail - Final Cut Expansion||Steam|
|Organ Trail: Director's Cut||Steam|
|Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You||Steam|
|Out of the Park Baseball 18||Steam|
|Painkiller: Black Edition||Steam|
|Paper Monsters Recut||Steam|
|Pathfinder Adventures - 40 Chests||Pathfinder|
|Pathologic Classic HD||Steam|
|PAYDAY 2 Orc and Crossbreed Masks||Steam|
|Peggle Deluxe, Bejeweled 3, Bookworm Deluxe, Escape Rosecliff Island, and Feeding Frenzy 2 Deluxe||Origin|
|PixelJunk™ Monsters Ultimate + Shooter Bundle||Steam|
|Planetary Annihilation - Digital Deluxe Commander Bundle||Steam|
|Putt-Putt® Joins the Parade||Steam|
|Resident Evil Revelations||Steam|
|Rise of the Triad||Steam|
|Rise of the Triad (2013)||Steam|
|RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry||Steam|
|Run Of Mydan||Steam|
|Rusty Lake: Roots||Steam|
|Saga of the Void: Admirals||Steam|
|Sakura Beach 2||Steam|
|Sakura Magical Girls||Steam|
|Sakura Shrine Girls||Steam|
|Sakura Swim Club||Steam|
|Savage Lands (Early Access)||Steam|
|Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut||Steam|
|Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition||Steam|
|Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition||Steam|
|Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom||Steam|
|Sid Meier's Civilization® III: Complete||Steam|
|Silence of the Sleep||Steam|
|SMITE - Almighty Zeus|
|E3 Digital Ticket|
|SMITE — Bellona and Furiona Bellona Exclusive Skin, Kukulkan and Typhoon Kukulkan skin||SMITE|
|Sniper Elite V2||Steam|
|Son of Nor||Steam|
|Space Hulk Ascension||Steam|
|Splice Steam Key||Steam|
|Star Wars™ Jedi Knight™: Jedi Academy™||Steam|
|Star Wars™: Dark Forces||Steam|
|Stencyl: Indie Edition 1-Year License||Stencyl|
|Stronghold Crusader 2||Steam|
|Sudden Strike 4||Steam|
|Super Senso Beta Access + Starter Pack (w/ exclusive Glen the Gargoyle Senso)||Super Senso|
|Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Steam Key||Steam|
|SUPERFIGHT - The Joiner Micro Deck||Steam|
|SUPERFIGHT Closed Beta Access||Steam|
|Supreme Ruler 1936||Steam|
|Swords & Soldiers HD Steam Key||Steam|
|Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure||Steam|
|The Darkness II||Steam|
|The Deadly Tower of Monsters||Steam|
|The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II||Steam|
|The Legend of Dark Witch||Steam|
|The Legend of Dark Witch||Steam|
|The Norwood Suite||Steam|
|The Purring Quest||Steam|
|The Troma Project||Steam|
|The Warlock of Firetop Mountain||Steam|
|They Bleed Pixels||Steam|
|To the Moon||Steam|
|Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six®||Uplay|
|Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® 3 Gold (Raven Shield / Athena Sword)||Uplay|
|Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege - Multiplayer Beta||Uplay|
|Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Vegas||Uplay|
|Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory®||Uplay|
|Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell®||Uplay|
|Tomb Raider I||Steam|
|Tomb Raider II||Steam|
|Tomb Raider III||Steam|
|Tomb Raider: Anniversary||Steam|
|Tomb Raider: Legend||Steam|
|Tomb Raider: Underworld||Steam|
|Total War Battles: KINGDOM – Exclusive Humble Banner Heraldry & In-Game Resources (1000 Silver & 1000 Stone)||Sega|
|Total War: ARENA – 30 Days Premium Account and Exclusive Humble Warrior Greek Shield (available in Closed Beta)||Sega|
|Total War: ARENA Premium Spartan Hoplite Unit||Sega|
|Tropico 5 - Espionage||Steam|
|Tropico 5 - Waterborne||Steam|
|Unbox: Newbie's Adventure||Steam|
|Vanguard Princess - Artwork and Soundtrack DLC||Steam|
|Vanguard Princess Director's Cut DLC||Steam|
|Vanguard Princess Hilda Rize DLC||Steam|
|Vanguard Princess Kurumi DLC||Steam|
|Vanguard Princess Lilith DLC||Steam|
|Wacky Wings VR||Steam|
|Waking Mars Steam Key||Steam|
|War Thunder M5 Stuart Tank + P36 Aircraft + Exclusive Twitch + Humble Bundle Decals||War Thunder|
|Warframe Booster Pack|
|E3 Digital Ticket|
|Warframe PC Booster Pack||Warframe|
|We Were Here Too||Steam|
|WildStar E3 Pack||Wildstar|
|Wizorb, BIT.TRIP.RUNNER, Gratuitous Space Battles, and Jamestown Steam Key||Steam|
|World of Goo||Steam|
|Worms Clan Wars||Steam|
|X-COM: Terror from the Deep||Steam|
|X-COM: UFO Defense||Steam|
|XSplit Premium 3-Month License||XSplit|
|Zen Bound 2 Steam Key||Steam|
|Zombie Driver HD Complete Edition||Steam|
|Zombie Kill of the Week - Reborn||Steam|
|Zombie Night Terror||Steam|
|Zombie Office Politics||Steam|