Funerals

an  excerpt from The 28 Inch Mill by Robert D. Frantz

Sometimes we’d hafta cover for some of the old guys, you know, who didn’t want to go to the wash house.

In them days when you became too old and didn’t have the time in or the inclination to take your pension they’d give you a job as janitor in the wash house, but some guys were just too proud. So that made the job even tougher, but you knew some day you were gonna get old too and need help.

I seen a lotta guys start out as young tigers and end up hardly able to get through the turn. You could tell when a guy was hurtin’ and pushin’ himself and pretty soon he wouldn’t be around. Then you’d hear he was in St. Luke’s. Next thing you know he’d be gone. Continue reading

The Roller

an excerpt from The 28 Inch Mill by Robert D. Frantz

After the roller’d finished settin’ up the mill, he’d signal the rougher operator to blow up and he’d blow two and call the pusher on the P. A.

“O. K. Wayne, try one.”

And we’d run a bar through the mill and then the assistant roller, it was always the assistant roller, would walk down to the hot saw to get a test piece.

Didja ever think about that Janos? Anybody could go down and pick up a test piece, but it was always the assistant roller. Continue reading

United Nations

an excerpt from The 28 Inch Mill by Robert D. Frantz

Janos, Janos, it’s Karl, yeah, Karl Yoder. Hey, how’re you doin’? Sit down and have a drink. Jeez, its good to see ya. I been thinkin’ about the mill. It’s been over thirty years since they shut down the 28. I been wonderin’ how all the guys are doin’.

We really had our own United Nations down there. Hungarians, Slovaks, Polacks, Italians, Germans, Irish, Mexicans, Romanians, Austrians, Russians, Greeks, Jews, Arabs. You name it we had it. All got along real good too.

It wasn’t always that way though. Back in the 1800’s Bethlehem Steel was started by the Germans and for the first twenty or thirty years they held all the jobs. Then they started to hire the Irish and gave them all the lousy jobs, like the coke works and shovelin’ scale, stuff like that. Continue reading

9/11

Tuesday, September 11, early in the morning, unknowing of what was to come, I finally made the choice to go surfing at the Jersey shore for the first time since moving east 3 years ago. I checked my email, handled the few chores requested by clients and packed the truck with my board and gear and headed out.

It was a pristine and crystal clear day, the early signs of fall in the air. I rejoiced as I drove across the garden state with my beloved lab, Lulu, at my side and surfboard in the back, that at last my life had reached my idea of perfection. I had finally, after years of struggle and hard work, found the life I had always dreamed of, a beautiful home in the country, animals to love and care for and an occupation I enjoyed which allowed me to work at home and go surfing whenever the ocean provided the waves. This day would be the day that signified the completion and fruition of my lifelong quest to get it all together.

Then the world changed. Continue reading

Lulu’s Autobiography

I love to go for rides in the car and swim and fetch sticks & balls. I also like to play tuggie with socks, and ‘you can’t catch me’ around the bed with my Daddy, Stanley. (he’s a human) My favorite place to go is the beach, especially the one with the big pond at the end of a creek. It’s great for swimming. I’m still a little afraid of the waves in the ocean, but sometimes there’s dead seals or other carcasses I like to roll in and get real stinky, if my Daddy doesn’t catch me first. Continue reading