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Friday, June 26, 2009

HOM: Page 2

Flashback: a few years after Bec was born, I got a phone call from Don to tell me of the birth of their second child, a boy. Don told me they'd named him James, after me, and when I got my breath back I asked him why. "Because he's short, fat, and smiles a lot" was Don's response. The hiss he heard was my ego deflating. Jimmy Hoodenpyle didn't stay short & fat, though, he grew up to be tall and slim and much smarter than I am. He still smiles a lot, though. ----- At the time of this visit, Don & Sandy didn't actually live in Page, but across the Utah border in Glen Canyon City, since renamed to Big Water. Since all GCC consisted of was a combo store/post office/gas station and a couple of scattered houses, most things took place in Page, some fifteen miles away. Don worked for the Salt River coal fired generating plant in Page at the time, and gave me a quick tour of the plant. Part of the tour gave me goosebumps. For one thing, the towers of the smoke stacks there are around 775 feet high. Don grinned when he told me of the iron worker who was inspecting one of the towers from a helicopter and jumped from the chopper to a small platform the top of the tower. I cowered. I do NOT love heights. He pointed out a little metal room room hanging of the side of the main structure a hundred feet or more up (the boilers are 200 feet tall) and told me how someone was in the room when a weld broke and let one end sag. He pointed out where a worker was sliding down the rail along a stair, missed a corner, and fell fifty feet or so onto the concrete. He pointed out the hole high up in a wall, punched through when a bolt had worked loose and been blown out of a steam line. He pointed out the innocent piles of fly ash, some of which had an interior temperature that would melt a shovel, and told the tales of folks who had been careless around them. He told me of the incident when the blocks holding up a locomotive being worked on collapsed. One person was under it at the time. Flatlined. Literally. I felt right at home . . . TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)