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Sunday, March 22, 2009

HOM: Wayne

There was a fire at the plant, probably caused by kids. Much of the north-east corner burned, which put the block machine and one of the two kilns out of business. We were out of work for a while till the wiring could be patched up for the rest of the building. Billy left. He & Merrilee moved to Libby & he went to work in a mill over there. Arnold hired Wayne Peterson, a transplant from the Seattle area, and another young guy whose name escapes me. Wayne & Jill had two kids, and the youngest was named Warren, after Wayne's twin brother who had died in Vietnam. The older boy wasn't his. Wayne took over the pipe machine, and once he got the hang of it we set some production records. My mixing and his piping made us a great team and we had fun working together. We ran around together and hunted together too. When Wayne first came to work, he commented on how cute the blonde office girl was. I told him not to get his hopes up because she was Gay. I think he decided to stop listening to me after Les introduced him to the blonde: "Wayne, this is my daughter, Gay." Wayne was with me twice when I had an oops with my poor Jeep. We were out northwest of town, exploring roads and hunting. We drove down a long trail that dead ended, and in the process of turning around in deep snow at the end of the road I shattered a locking hub on the front axle. It was an off-brand type and was not locked properly. It took three of us hours to get the rig back up to the main road. Later on, we were goofing around and I slid the rig sideways into a curb. It bent both rims on the passenger side and messed up a brake drum. Stupidity in action. We took my little boat down the river from the Old Steel Bridge to the slough in the late fall, duck hunting and exploring the river. Jill dropped us off at the bridge and we had the Jeep waiting for us at the slough. We didn't get anything, but we had fun. When we launched the boat, I slipped and almost went in the river. Jill saw that, and I think she worried about us the whole time we were gone. Wayne wasn't too happy at Glacier Concrete, though. He thought that since he was setting records in production he should get a little more pay. He asked Arnold for a raise and Arnold granted us both one -- eight cents an hour! It was toward the end of the season so Wayne and I made up our own carol: "Hark, the herald angels sing, eight cents an hour is no big thing!" Wayne put in an application at one of the mills in Columbia Falls and was offered a job that included a 50¢/hour pay raise. He went to Arnold to give his notice, but Arnold asked him to stay. Wayne agreed to stay if GC would give him a 25¢ pay raise. Arnold stalled for a day and then told him he would only give him a 20¢ raise, so Wayne left and Doug Fox took over the pipe machine -- and production dropped, badly. Wayne. A year or so after he left GC his babysitter's house caught fire and his son Warren and another boy were killed. He and Jill left, moving back to a Seattle suburb, and he opened a sand blasting business there. His marriage never recovered from the tragedy and a few years later he & Jill split up. He visited me once after that, with his new girl friend, and then I lost track of him. I hope he is doing well. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)