Towards 1978, I left The World's Greatest Toy Store to
work as an insulation installer in new commercial buildings. If
you have ever walked into a large warehouse, factory, or an
'outlet' type of building, and seen the shiny silver strips of
insulation on the ceiling, that is what I was installing.
The insulation came in big rolls, it was a metal foil backing on
heavy cardboard-like paper. It unrolled into strips about 10
feet long and 2 feet wide, and we had to place the insulation
on the ceiling and slap it into place with a staple hammer.
Most of these buildings have a pretty standard pattern of 2 by
4's on the ceiling that are about 2 feet apart, and the
insulation was stapled onto the boards that way. You might be
wondering how we got UP there to do this...since the ceilings
might be anywhere from 15-60 feet up...
We had to build scaffolding...which was actually pretty easy.
Kind of like working with a big erector set, built from the
floor up. Section by section, with wooden planks to walk on.
We were paid pretty well, I believe it was like $8.00 per
bay...a 'bay' was ten strips. So we could hang around 10 bays
per day on a slow day, and make 80 bucks. Of course, we were
not paid at all if we were not hanging insulation...which meant
that if we got to a new job site and had to build the scaffolding,
we weren't making any money until we climbed up there and
The scaffolds were on four wheels...and to move it all from
place to place, which you had to do to keep getting into the new
areas to work, you had to grab onto something on the ceiling,
and use your legs to push the scaffold farther on down the line.
If am explaining this correctly, and you are able to picture this,
you can see that if not done carefully, this could be pretty
If you pushed the scaffold too hard, you ran the risk of it
getting away from you and scooting out from under you, and you
would be left with nothing to stand on.
This never happened to me, but I was on the ground once, and
my co-worker was about 50 feet up pushing his scaffold, when
the wheels got hung up on a piece of wood, and the whole thing
tipped over! Very luckily, there were almost always large metal
pipes in the ceiling you could hang on to, and he was able to grab
one while the scaffold fell, and he was then left dangling 50 feet
in the air, hanging onto the pipe.
Had I not been there to wheel MY scaffold underneath him...or
had he not been near the pipe, this could have ended very badly.
You can imagine how critical it was to have a perfectly clean
floor before starting so the wheels were able to roll freely.
But, all in a day's work, I guess.
I am having a hard time remembering exactly why I left that job.
I know I worked there the entire year of 1977 (a recent record
of only ONE job that year), and even part of 1978! I know the
boss\owner used to do a lot of drinking, and on Friday nights we
had to hang around the office and wait for him to calculate and
issue paychecks...while we put back a few six-packs.
For whatever reason, though, I recall that next I found myself
working in the Rainbird sprinkler factory. I worked the
graveyard shift...overnight, which, was 11:00 PM till 7:00 the
next morning. I drilled holes in the various sprinklers, it was
boring mechanical work.
I didn't mind the shift, I have worked all the shifts in my
life, but I prefer the overnight over the 'swing' shift, which
was late afternoon until around midnight.
I think I worked at Rainbird from sometime in 1978 to 1979.
And after THAT....well, that is for Part Eleven...
Peace be with you.