Great Jobs 21-Stupid Moves
I suppose everybody does stupid things in a lifetime, things where not much thought is given to outcomes. That happens when we think too many things are going on in our lives that we can’t cope with.
After Mary Ann was born on my birthday, May 18th 1957, and Audrey and I returned to Missouri, I thought I could make just as good a living as we both had done in Michigan. I had taken one of the trucks back with me to work with, but there was not enough work in Missouri since there was no terminal here for the company we had been working for in Michigan. And I knew I could not get another job with any of the interstate carriers, they were bearing down on physicals and new insurance requirements.
I decided to start my own trucking service, so I set about getting signers for my own Missouri Intrastate Rights. I got a few signers and then set about to apply to the proper agency. The signers were supposed to show up to confirm their need for such service, but only one did. On the other hand the truck lines already having authority brought in many of their own customers to show that the service was already adequate. The result was I got some operating authority but it was limited in the scope of operations. I could haul tool and office trailers to construction sites and move heavy machinery to and from construction sites and for a while I did a lot of work for Patashnik Construction Company who was working on the highways in southern and eastern Missouri.
One of my last claims to fame was tying up the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi River. And making the papers with pictures, and even getting on the evening news. That bridge was an older one with a bend in the middle. That was figured in for added support for a very long bridge. At the time I was bringing a wide mobile home to George Wilson. I usually called ahead and he would send out his driver to cut the traffic coming on to the bridge from the Missouri Side. But, on this occasion somehow we got crossed. He got me on the CB and said it was clear to come on, but as he called the toll taker let an 18 wheeler through. And you guessed it; we met at the bend in the bridge. And now we were tied up. I was too wide to make the bend and clear him, and he could not get around me. Soon the Mounties were on the scene. And it took hours to back up all the cars from the Missouri side, and finally clear a path for the 18 wheeler to back up to let me get by. Any one that had followed me just had to wait. The traffic jam was horrific and made the papers. No one got a ticket the Mounties were too busy getting all the traffic sorted out. Any time after that George said, ‘Hey, we are coming to lead you across’.
Actually that was the only bridge in North Saint Louis County. The new interstate was only a dream back then; any other bridge would have been in the downtown area at that time.
I also was doing a lot of work for Harris Truck and Trailer Company in Cape Girardeau. Not only were they the largest truck dealer in the area, they also were selling mobile homes. Sometimes they would send me to pick up new trucks, but most of the time they were sending me to Mobile Home Factories in Michigan and Indiana for the new ten foot and twelve foot wide creations. In some instances they were already sold, so it was up to me to go after them and spot them right on location.
Getting them and bringing them back was one thing, but spotting them on the new owners land was something else. Bringing them to a Mobile Home Park was easy enough, but spotting them on some piece of property back in the Missouri Hills off the main drag was mind boggling. The new owners expected that no matter where they lived as long as there was a road to their property then anybody should be able to get there. Usually you could with a farm tractor. Well, I became acquainted with some roads that even a Missouri Mule wouldn’t attempt to navigate. And rather than a simple spotting job the task became an all day job and in some cases several days. Holiday Trailer and Mobile Home Transporting Tariffs do not have provisions for such extra work and thus making charges for all the extra work involved sometimes agreed to and sometimes not.
“Hey, Harris said they would deliver it”, was the usual retort.
“Yea, but Harris never came to look at where you lived, did they”?
“Well no, but…”.
And, it was pretty much the same with construction work on the new Highways. Patashnik was building new roads in Southern Missouri and of course ruts and mud holes were the norm. I had bought a new GMC which I thought was big enough for the work at hand, but I had not taken into account what moving office trailers and tool trailers to construction sites incurred.
Thus ended my career of fun and not so fun trucker jobs.
Watch for Helmer's next chapter on Great Jobs in the September issue.
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