This is a story of one of my first foremen, Keith Tinsley, known as “Peavey.”
It was 1978 and I was hired as a groundman at a distribution contractor. Peavey’s crew consisted of Charlie (1st class lineman), Little David (2nd class lineman), Buck (digger truck operator), and me (groundman). I rode in the digger derrick (which was/is referred to as a “line truck” around here) with Buck. Peavey, Charlie, and Little David rode in the single cab F250. There was no bucket truck. There were about eight or nine overhead crews but only two had a bucket. Our pickup trucks were four-wheel drive with a strong PTO driven winch on the front.
Peavey was known for his good humor and not taking anything too seriously. He could sit up against a tree and entertain us all day long, while we hand dug holes. One winter, we had set a pole by hand beside a barn. There were several inches of wet snow on the ground. The ground under the snow was uneven, cow trampled, soft earth. We hand carried a transformer to the barb wire fence by suspending it from the digging bar with two people on each end. At the fence we laid it down on the snow and slid it under the barbed wire. Somehow, I got my feet stuck in the mud and I ended up on my butt. My clothing, all cotton, got soaked. After getting wet, I became very cold. Peavey came up to me and asked, “Are you cold? “ I told him I was freezing. He replied, “I thought so, if you’d have told me different, I was gonna shove you down in the snow some more!” He appreciated honesty and good work.
On one job, we could only get the pickup and a bulldozer to the work site. That was about a weeklong job, Peavey and Little David took their personal trucks to the job site also. It was up a wet logging road, and they raced each other up there. There was a small mountain stream there, so one morning we all caught lizards for the superintendent to use as bass bait.
Charlie, the top lineman, was fairly short. Peavey used to say, “Charlie can stand on one phase and work on the other one.” The vertical primary spacing then was thirty inches.
Peavy didn’t climb much but once I saw him and three other linemen on the same pole trying to move a piece of 477 by hand. Afterwards Peavey said something like, “I was really just hanging on.”
Even though I haven’t worked for him in over 40 years, I did see him from time to time and a lot of us kept up with him. Once he let some of the guys on my crew use his swimming pool to practice rolling in kayaks. He said it was one of the funniest things he ever saw!
There's a whole lot of linemen in western North Carolina who will miss Peavey!
Dick Weaver – Retired Lineman