Still Building

Mary Field in front of her sister’s house on Gramercy.

I could not re-enter the University until February, and the wedding was set for January, so I had to occupy myself for several months. I was staying at my Aunt Cot’s house during this time. My Grandfather was living with her along with my old dog Scrappy that had become his dog. Gin never went anywhere without that dog riding with him in his little blue 39 Ford coupe.

Dad Sawtelle had always wanted a shop, so I decided to build him one out behind the house. He gave me his desires regarding size, and I took it from there. I built him a 10 X 20 shop that took me about two months to do. The ground sloped to the west back there and, I had to build some rather high forms before pouring the concrete. To fill the space inside the form, I put sand and a lot of rocks. I had gone up to Mineola, Texas, and picked up a two-wheel trailer, which had belonged to Charlotte’s brother Dan. This is what I used to haul the rocks that I had gone out San Pedro Ave, north of town, to collect along the road.

One day, I was pulling the empty trailer along Hildebrand Ave on my way out for another load of rocks, when I looked to my left out of the drivers window, and there was a trailer trucking along beside me. It was not attached to any car and, all of a sudden it hit me. Hey, that’s my trailer!! It drifted over into the oncoming lane, but fortunately, all the oncoming cars dodged it. It finally jumped the curb and stopped against a big cedar tree. I always had to learn by doing. I had a 1 7/8” ball on the car and a 2” hitch on the trailer and no safety chain. I went over and bought a 2” ball as soon as I could, as well as a safety chain. I hauled all kinds of trailers all over Texas, and up to Kansas in the next 50 years but always with the proper ball, and hitch, as well as a good safety chain.

Another little mishap came regarding the concrete form. On the downhill side of the slab, the form was about three feet high. The concrete truck started delivering the concrete, and I was wading around in the concrete in rubber boots. All of a sudden there was a “crack!” and the form on that high side bowed out and was about to split open. I rushed into Dad’s garage and got a jack. Then I drove a 2×4 post into the ground with his sledgehammer and used a jack to hold that side of the wall. I was by myself, so I had to finish out the slab before it set up and hardened. I had started at about seven that morning, and finished working the surface of the slab at ten o’clock that night. I had been out there going as hard as I could the whole time, except when Charlotte brought me something to eat and drink. I literally crawled into the house that night. I think Charlotte had to drive me over to Cot’s where I was staying. I finished the shop without any other mishaps.

I was gratified that for the rest of Dad Sawtelle’s time there living on Kings Highway, he would head for that shop almost every afternoon, when he came home from work. He would come in for supper, and then after supper back to his shop. He spent thousands of hours puttering around in his shop building things, especially for the grandchildren.