It was the summer of 1976, and I got a job as a temporary worker with Huntsville Utilities, a municipal company in Alabama.
They hired college students for the summer. I was a groundman on a three-man tree crew. We had a bucket truck with a closed dump bed for chips and pulled a chipper. My job was to drag brush and feed the chipper. We were given salt pills because of the heat and humidity. Our safety equipment consisted of a hard hat. I honestly can’t remember if we had ear protection but it probably was in the form of ear plugs. Gloves were optional. I got the worst case of poison ivy I’ve ever had that summer.
The foreman ran the bucket and the other crew member drove the truck. They let me park the truck when we came in at the end of the day. Since you couldn’t see the chipper when it was directly behind the truck, I had a hard time parking because we had to back into a spot. Several times someone would have to come out and park because it was time to go home.
One day the foreman asked if I wanted to go up in the bucket. Sure, I said. He showed me the three levers that controlled the boom. There was no fall protection.
I went up and was moving around when suddenly, the boom started moving on its own. The foreman was using the lower controls and stood the boom straight up. Then he grabbed the lower boom lever and began going back and forth with rapid movements. The bucket was jumping about 6 feet or so back and forth. I had to hang on with both hands, so I didn’t get beat up.
The foreman told me he wanted to see how I’d do in the air.
That’s one trick which I never pulled on anyone.
Dick Weaver – Retired Lineman