I Remember When...

I Remember When…

(From Issue 2, 2021 of the Retiree Guardian)

“I Remember When…A Complete Day Wasted”
By Chet Lund Williston ND

It was summertime and the year was 1958. I was on an unlocated Northwestern Bell line crew, living in Minot ND. The job we were going to was east of Minot close to Granville ND. The job that day was to replace some poles which ran parallel to the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, which was a very common occurrence at that time.

Our crew consisted of Duane Johnson, Marschel Midthun, Cleon Boyer and me. We were all linemen and I also drove the line truck. Our foreman was Dick Piasecki.

At times it can be a challenge to get a line truck into the work area. In this instance, I intended to drive somewhat close to the to the railroad tracks, which appeared to me to be the best chance to get to the poles needing replacement. Our foreman said no – I think we should drive over here which was about 100 feet away. So, of course, I did as he said since he was the boss.

Well, guess what? We stuck that cabover line truck up to the bed of the truck. There we were, stuck like never before. We did have a winch line but there was nothing to attach the winch to in order to get us out. Of course, in those days there were no cell phones or two-way radios. One of us climbed a pole, hooked onto a circuit, and called the Minot toll test board. Our help came from J.B. Reed, a heavy equipment operator, but they could not get close enough to get us lifted up or pulled out. All they could do was use big jacks and timbers. They dug down, got timbers under the truck, jacked it up, and pulled us a few feet. This went on and on until we finally got out late that evening. Lucky for us dinner was brought out to us late in the afternoon. We had not eaten all day and we were starved.

Of course, the pole replacement job was not finished that day. The next day we came back and this time I drove to the spot I wanted to in the first place. We got in, completed the work, and got out in good shape. It would have been good if our foreman had not been with us on that first day.

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